Meeting Modern Resource Capacity Planning Challenges Head-On

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Getting control over the resourcing pipeline has long been a key PPM challenge. But, as the world of work evolves, the business of managing resources is becoming more – not less – complex. So, how do we solve resourcing pain points once and for all?

Our Associate Editor, Amy Hatton, spoke to Angie Parsons, Planview’s Senior Manager of Product Marketing & PPM GTM Team Lead. As a PPM solutions provider and transformation partner for more than 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide, Planview has comprehensive insight into the PPM challenges organisations face. The company has specifically tackled resource management in its recent eBook, Top 5 Challenges of Modernizing Resource Capacity Planning, which addresses the most common questions customers ask Planview about the resourcing landscape. Angie took time out to reflect on the issues with Amy, offering her specialist perspective on what is arguably one of the trickiest elements of portfolio management.

This is not the first time that I have interviewed Angie – my most recent chat with her being in June 2022, when we discussed the role of Adaptive Portfolio Planning in driving business value. Since then, though, the climate has continued to shift, as Angie points out. “I firmly believe that emerging Future of Work trends will continue to make waves well into 2023,” she says.

“It’s generally accepted that, emerging from the pandemic, businesses need to accelerate delivery. They’re constantly adapting to get ahead of the digital technology revolution, hybrid working models, and evolving customer demands. Now, we’re also moving into a potential recession, a landscape of significant global uncertainty, and the aftermath of the “Great Resignation” following the pandemic. All of these are impacting on Resource Capacity Planning. Businesses must ensure the right level of resources to push velocity of work and retain the competitive edge.

“At the same time, it’s crucial not to overload capacity. Plus, PMO leaders need to establish the right skills sets across the right teams and sensible levels of local autonomy to enable teams to move at speed, whilst maintaining appropriate governance. All of this ensures that, when the unexpected comes along, we are braced to pivot rapidly. But, in today’s VUCA environment and the context of the factors I’ve just mentioned, it is difficult to maintain control over that resourcing pipeline.”

Whilst I completely agree with Angie, I find myself reflecting on the fact that I have been having conversations about resource management for more than a decade now! So, what exactly makes this particular area of PPM so persistently difficult to crack?

“There are two headlines,” Angie explains. “The first is establishing a baseline of data visibility and consistency. Across projects, programmes, and the portfolio, it is crucial to understand the requirements, scope, financials, and risks involved, in order to accurately map the resources and skills needed to deliver. Any PMO or project team that doesn’t have at least basic visibility across all of this will struggle. Mix in the complex, dynamic nature of people – and, of course, for almost any business, people are the primary resource – and you have a web of complexity that isn’t easy to unravel.”

This is an area that fascinates me, especially in the context of how human expectations of the workplace are evolving post-pandemic, as well as new generations entering the workplace. As Deloitte points out in their Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey: ‘To attract and retain talent, business leaders should act urgently to shape work models that meet the expectations of their people.’ Surely, then, organisations must be mindful that the way in which they employ, deploy, and support their people will be crucial to future success? “This is about aligning people, tools and processes – something we support customers with all the time,” says Angie.

“For example, our Resource Capacity Planning eBook explains the value of streamlining smaller, dedicated product teams and optimising skills sets within those teams. That equips an organisation to respond more flexibly to changing circumstances. It’s ‘agile’ with a small ‘a’ if you like! But it’s also important to ensure that, within those teams – wherever and however they are working – they understand the value of their contributions in delivering the overall strategy. So, it’s not just about getting a handle on the resources from an operational standpoint. It’s about having a holistic view of how work and strategy come together and communicating that view out across the enterprise. It’s really important for the PMO to be equipped to offer that value to the business and its people.”

This leads us into the area of capacity and velocity planning – techniques that are facilitated by exactly the kind of insights and intelligence Planview’s PPM solutions provide. It’s an area Angie is clearly passionate about! “We talk to hundreds of PMO leaders every day and they all have one thing in common: an appreciation of the importance of meaningful data and metrics,” she says.

“Having those insights is invaluable for setting realistic expectations that will inform future decisions. We’re increasingly seeing organisations move beyond lagging indicators such as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and into leading indicators like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). These forward-looking indicators equip PMOs and organisations to set measures, objectively assess their ability to achieve those measures, and make pro-active changes along the way when circumstances shift. In the area of Resource Capacity Planning, Planview’s PPM solutions offer a suite of robust capabilities such as data capture and optimisation, ‘what-if?’ planning tools, scenario planning and so on. That visibility also helps to hit the governance sweet spot. It enables PMOs to establish guardrails and parameters, equipping teams to make localised decisions at speed, with the confidence that those are the right decisions for the business. And we should embrace that mindset – the notion of supporting and empowering teams to give their very best, celebrate their own successes, find their own failures, learn from each, and continuously add value.”

This all makes perfect sense to me – but, from the perspective of a busy PMO leader, there is always one particularly tricky question: where do you actually start with implementing all of the good stuff we’ve been discussing? “First and foremost, it’s important to recognise that this is a journey,” Angie explains.

“Every organisation has its own ecosystem, and every PMO will need a different level of support. As a recognised leader in this space, Planview is geared up to meet each customer wherever they are and take the journey with them. We have supported thousands of customers through their PPM transformation roadmap. We have partnered them through change, challenge, opportunity, and disruption alike. So, we are well positioned to cross-pollinate that learning to help every organisation enjoy success. For me, working with a vendor like Planview is not just about onboarding a toolkit, or a process or a framework. It’s about having a partner that can support you in bringing it all together and maximising what the PMO can do to drive value for the business.”

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Amy Hatton
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