PMOs which have implemented software and tools to allow more automation in their work are not content with stopping at basic reporting functions, they want to maximise the functionality available to them. So what do PMOs focus on when it comes to moving their services onto the next level of maturity? It’s resource management.

Last week I caught up with Gero Renker of Program Framework to find out more about what PMOs and organisations are interested in when it comes to taking automation of their processes to the next level and why resource management is popular.

We know that initial PMO tool implementation and deployment takes some time to become embedded. Having overcome the initial challenge of being ready for basic automation and supporting the wider organisation to adapt to the new way of working, there is often a keenness to utilise more advanced functionality.

It is the resource management functionality available in tools like Project Server which is the area which receives most focus after initial tool deployment. Gero said, “Being able to manage a central resource pool is high up on the wish list for organisations today. When an organisation has many resources across their project department, they obviously want to be able to control the supply and demand. They are also interested in the competency of staff and skills development too”

But implementing a robust resource management service is not easy. “It requires a higher degree of planning and data maturity in order to be deployed successfully.” In fact, Gero indicated that many of the organisations Program Framework work with recognise that to get the most out of their tool they have to be prepared for a journey rather than a quick immediate win. “Resource management processes – especially at an enterprise level – are often not as mature as they could be so the work has to focus here initially”.

From a PMO point of view, resource management takes on many different forms. From resource planning support at an individual project level, through to managing dependencies at programme level and at a higher organisational level, implementing an enterprise wide resource management system. It is the enterprise wide resource management which is the least prevalent in PMOs today.

Without an overarching resource management system, PMOs are not easily able to provide a value add service such as being able to inform the business where potential resource gaps might be appearing in the future, where there may be a need to upskill existing staff or recruit new ones. Tasks which aid decision making, such as ‘what if’ analysis of resource loading and levelling are restricted to project levels whereas a benefit could be extracted at portfolio levels. Using MS Excel, which is what most organisations still use, just doesn’t cope with this type of complex data and it leaves a PMO open to errors and miscalculations.

resource-management

You can take a more in-depth look at a whitepaper Program Framework have already produced on resource management challenges here, the section on modelling should be of particular interest to PMOs today.

So resource management is a big area in advanced automation for PMOs at the moment and its popularity is growing. Gero also said that this trend is facilitated by PMO tools being available as a cloud service making them much more accessible. “With the popularity of Microsoft’s Office 365 it has become easier to deploy the cloud-equivalent of MS Project Server – known as ‘Project Online’. It has given people instant access and because there is also a 30 day free trial, it has allowed PMOs to sign up, upload sample project data and start trying out the tool straightaway.” Gero went on to say, “It allows us to rapidly deploy prototypes so the PMO can start to understand what the tool is capable of using their own data. Most of the time, the data a PMO is already working with, in say MS Excel, can be uploaded and you’re probably about 80% of the way there”. This has enabled PMOs to quickly see how the tool can work for the business and use the trial to help them demonstrate resource management and ultimately win over senior management with the tool’s capability.

With resource management and cloud services being two of the most popular trends in PMO tools and software today, I wanted to find out from Gero what his views were about other areas of the PMO and where they should be heading in the future. He said, “I’m really looking forward to seeing more PMOs facilitating the strategic angle of project business more. We’re already seeing some PMOs supporting in areas such as selection of the right initiatives and ensuring alignment of strategic objectives to projects and we need to see more of that. With the right supporting tools in place, PMOs can add value in being able to provide ‘what if’ analysis and other simulations which help drive better decisions and outcomes”.

To find out more about how PMOs are tackling the advancement of resource management in their organisations, visit Program Framework at the PMO Conference and talk directly to Gero. Alternatively, visit the website, Program Framework.