Hey PMs if resource management is so important, why don’t we do it better?

Albert Einstein reportedly defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. That seems to be the status quo for IT resource management in many companies. Cognitive Technologies  conducted a survey of resource management practices during the summer of 2010. We found, as we did in our 2009 survey, that resource management issues continue to plague managers who ranked it as a leading or number one challenge to success.

Today and over the next couple of weeks, I want to tell you about our survey of resource management tools, processes and challenges.

Who was surveyed?
To get a representative population of respondents from non-profit, for-profit, large and small organizations as well as project managers and senior staff, we sent 4,800 targeted email invitations, requests for participation to 120 PMI chapters and newsletter-based general invitations. We also posted an invitation to participate on LinkedIn, Twitter and selected project management blogs.

In total, we received 250 responses — sufficient to provide a meaningful sample for in-depth analysis. Over three-fourths of the responding organizations were commercial businesses of which 44 percent were publically traded companies and 39 percent were private. The remaining 17 percent of respondents represented government and non-profit organizations.

The industries represented by responding individuals showed broad-based coverage from Financial Services, IT/Technology, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals and Consulting. Slightly less than half of the companies were large with revenues of more than $1B. Medium-sized companies with revenues between $100M and $1B accounted for 26 percent of respondents with the remainder being small companies.

Finally, respondents to the 2010 survey represented both upper management and project management within their organizations in almost equal proportions. Respondents who self-identified as upper-level executives totaled 49% of the respondents, while 46% identified themselves as project management practitioners.

What did we ask?
Project resource management involves planning, allocating and scheduling personnel, services and equipment. Because IT projects succeed or fail primarily because of personnel availability and performance, we concentrated our questions in that area. The 2010 survey asked 25 questions dealing with the utilization of resource management tools and processes and the perception of resource management challenges. We asked respondents to identify the resource management tools used in their organization, how the tools were applied and their perceived effectiveness. Process related resource management questions focused on formal processes and data used for resource management planning and analysis. The last section of the survey asked project and senior managers to describe their resource management challenges.

What did we find?
Although next week’s post will go over the results in detail, here are a couple of key findings from our analysis of the survey responses:

  1. Almost all organizations, regardless of size or industry, use tools to help manage personnel resources.
  2. Approximately half of the surveyed individuals report that their resource management tools did NOT provide timely information to support decision-making.
  3. Companies with higher project success rates used tools to track and status projects at the task level.



4 Responses to “Hey PMs if resource management is so important, why don’t we do it better?”

  1. Bruce Lofland Says:

    One answer is that the resources do not like to be tracked that closely even by themselves. Everytime I have tried to implement resource management, I get a lot of pushback from the resources because it forces more discipline on them and the burden of granular time tracking without perceived reward. The resources feel like they are being scrutinized more. It’s like we are looking over their shoulders too much.

    What they don’t realize is that we are trying to relieve them of the burden of managing conflicting demands for their time. No one wants to say “I didn’t my tasks done because this other thing was more important.” They feel bad for not getting it done on time and become defensive, even though the other thing probably was more important. It is this defensiveness that causes them to resist.

    I wrote more about this on my blog here: http://blog.pmtechnix.com/hidden-reasons-why-things-dont-get-done/

  2. Andrew Levy Says:

    In addition to tools, I’m glad you’re asking about processes. I’ve seen organizations that really have no processes, so it’s no surprise really to see that those same organizations nearly always fail at resource management (an image of herding cats comes to mind). Tools are fine to assist with processes, but, again, some organizations attempt to use tools by themselves (without adequate processes in place), typically with little success.

  3. Anass Khochtaf Says:

    Thank you for this Article.

  4. Top Ten Questions You Should Ask about Every Project You’re Managing | Fear No Project Blog - Focusing on the Management Side of Projects Says:

    […] I want to assure you that this is not so – every person id unique and has specific skills.  You may find that team members were assigned simply because they were available and not because they were right for the […]

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