Workforce management the strategic key to bottoms in project team seats

In a previous article Managing resources – how else will you get the work done?” I discussed resource management.

In this article I discuss workforce management, the strategic provision and maintenance of resources required to define and deliver the required organizational, skill group and personal capability at the right time to execute the portfolio and business strategy.

Workforce management is one of the key integrating practices in the hierarchy of delivery practices [see What’s wrong with the PMO these days?]. PA Consulting Group’s research has shown that if companies have a fundamental foundation of basic project management practices most then progress to focus their efforts on design authority, governance, portfolio and workforce management.

These are what we have called the integrating practices which add demonstrable additional value – up to a point. These domains are where organizations have traditionally focussed their efforts at improving overall delivery but if the higher order practices are ignored the improvements will be limited or won’t be sustainable.

The workforce management practices are, in our experience, commonly handled badly and have a direct benefit on poorly executed resource management. Significant benefits are to be had by focusing on these practices to improve delivery reliability and increase effectiveness.

Core competitive capability development – Identification and development in-house of those capabilities and talents most strategic or intrinsic to the organization’s intellectual property. This process ensures the key critical capabilities required to execute strategy are available internally and are sustainable over time. Measures to track and improve it are: Quality leadership, bench-strength and capacity of core required capabilities.

Staff sourcing strategy – Effective sourcing of external resources to meet project and operational needs. This reduces the cost of project and portfolio delivery without sacrificing quality or timeliness. Metrics are: Quality, size, and cost competitive talent pool

Career paths – The availability of clearly defined paths of progression for staff are defined within a consistent framework of roles, competencies and job families. This ensures the opportunity to develop people in line with the organizational need, individual talents, and career preference. Measures: Staff satisfaction and attrition rate

Performance management – A well structured framework to manage performance by integrating goal-setting, individual performance assessment (including line, project and 360 degree appraisal), development planning, reward and recognition. This key process defines stronger links between organizational goals and individual targets, clarity of expectations, and regular feedback on performance. Measures: Individual performance levels and trends

Learning and development (L&D) – The combination formal training curricula (aligned to career paths) with a range of development initiatives and personal development plans to close capability gaps.  This enhances individual, team and organizational capability and agility. Measures: Growth in individual leadership & technical competence

In summary, workforce management is a key step in the process of ensuring the sourcing and care of resources to improve delivery reliability and is prerequisite for effective resource management. Many don’t ever get it right so it is well worth devoting the appropriate level of effort to this process to differentiate your performance on the journey to increased delivery reliability.

In future articles I will be discussing some practical issues encountered in real PMO implementations and how they were resolved.

John Hall

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  • Amanda Phipps  On March 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the read! Too often owners and managers forget the core structure of efficiently managing. I also see quite a few companies denying continued training and educational benefits to their workers thus only setting themselves up for failure. That employee will either sit stagnant or take initiative to find a company that will support their growth and trust in them as a loyal employee, either way it is not productive for the original company to deny such benefits.

  • John Hall  On March 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Amanda, glad you enjoyed this piece.
    You have hit the nail on the head. It is just good management practice to ensure effective delivery by managing the key to your success, the staff. In our experience as I said this is an area that over 80% of respondents to our survey get wrong, sadly, and it is one area that seems to me to be the easiest to get right.

  • computerized music  On October 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

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