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Overview of ResourceFirstâ„¢

Overview of ResourceFirst(tm) and PDWare's proven process framework for success, SPACER, which offers recommendations from strategy through execution and delivery.

Overview of ResourceFirst™  

 

ResourceFirstTM is a powerful planning solution for strategy and portfolio execution, with a special emphasis on priority-based resource planning and dynamic, ongoing balancing of capacity and demand.

ResourceFirst™ is available for cloud and on-premise installations, providing first-line managers, executives, PMO and EPMO functions the agility to meet fluctuating work priorities, schedules, demand and staff capacity.

 

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Introducing the SPACER Framework

 

There are six (6) key process areas of ResourceFirstTM. These areas, which can also be used as a proven framework for success, make up the acronym SPACER:

  • Strategize ensures that the vision, missions, objectives, and strategies for the organization are articulated, and that all programs and projects are aligned with defined strategies. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as Status, Feasibility, Financial, and Risk, can be used to map portfolio performance to strategic objectives. 

    In addition to the strategic alignment, this step also involves determining and tracking the value/risk scores for each initiative. Collectively, the alignment and scores will be useful in the next step, Prioritize
     
  • Prioritize involves ordering how projects and initiatives enter the portfolio queue; it may also determine whether a project gets delivered at all. Priority is predominantly determined by a combination of Strategic Alignment, Value and Risk, as identified in the previous step. Prioritization also works hand--in-hand with the next step, Allocate, in that a project or program's start date is influenced by both its priority and the available resources. Likewise, resources can be allocated based on priority.
     
  • Allocate represents the ongoing act of resource planning necessary to balance capacity with demand. It asks the question: How should we allocate our limited resources across the array of incoming and active projects? Allocation represents an achievable balance of resource assignments, taking into account resource supply, resource demand, and prioritized work. The result is a credible forecast businesses can believe in. 

    Of course, to achieve credible resource allocations, there must be agreement between those managing projects (project managers) and those managing people (resource managers) as to when skilled resources will be working on initiatives. The allocation process is an iterative cycle that often requires back-and-forth conversation between project managers, resource managers, and the resources themselves. When the demand isn’t able to be met due to resource constraints, a perennial problem in organizations, it’s necessary to assess the situation and attempt to reconcile the supply and demand in line with priority. This is where the next step, Calibrate, comes in.
     
  • Calibrate speaks to the critical process of addressing unbalanced portions of the forecast, also called shortfall. Resolving shortfall requires management decisions to be made on assignments, schedules, priority, and sometimes staffing. As a result, managers need to review shortfall in a number of different ways— by initiative, by program, by required skill/role, by cost center, and more. This allows for analyzing the situation through multiple lenses when making tradeoffs. Occasionally, complex tradeoffs require that multiple scenarios are created because none of the options reflect the perfect set of results. 

    Sometimes shortfall can be resolved within existing capacity, but sometimes the solution requires a change in the capacity or skills mix within the organization (e.g., increasing capacity, acquiring new skills, reassigning resources, hiring contractors, or instituting emergency training). On the flip side, sometimes changes need to be made to the demand, through shifting project schedules, staggering work, eliminating or deferring less important work, reducing scope or deferring partial scope to a future release, or other options. Once again, this requires communication across a variety of roles, including project managers, resource managers, PMO managers, senior managers, and more.


It's important to note that without a credible forecasting process in place, portfolio calibration is limited to what is visible and believable. This is one of the reasons resource planning (Allocation) always comes first. And of course resource planning is largely dependent upon prioritization, which in turn is largely dependent upon a clear view of strategic alignment and value/risk scores.
 

  • Execute represents the delivery and tracking stage for active projects. Before delivery can begin, an initiative or project should be slotted and calibrated within the portfolio. This provides the project with a realistic start date and definitive resource allocations. Major work items should not kick off unless resources are available to complete the initiative, or at a minimum, complete the opening phase of a waterfall-style project. Feasibility checking is another example of why resource planning should be in place first.

    During execution, once a project plan and schedule are developed, resources are assigned to the appropriate work level and scheduled to work within their allocations. Many organizations track time in addition to work completion; in some cases it’s necessary for billing or regulatory purposes. Timesheets may be used to track hours against project level work or even against task assignments.

    Just as with the Strategize phase, project status, actuals, and other tracking information can be communicated using KPIs. KPI gauges at the project level are either calculated from official project status data or set manually by the project manager during the status tracking process.
     
  • Review, the oversight stage, monitors the effectiveness of the overall process and supporting operations. Diagnostics are generally focused on three (3) areas:
     
    • Alignment - ensures everyone is performing their necessary functions. The most common spots for noncompliance include time sheet reporting, resource forecast updates and timely project status reporting. Using notifications to nudge participants to complete their work is often useful.
       
    • Balance - ensures the most effective resource allocation and/or project mix across the portfolio. Are the key resources allocated to the most important projects? Is the right amount of investment taking place in high priority strategy and program areas? Is adequate attention being given to innovation efforts? Does the labor spend align with the expected business needs? Quick identification when the resource allocation or project mix is off course allows an organization to make course corrections, adjusting accordingly rather than failing to achieve objectives.
       
    • Consistency - monitors key metrics over time to ensure process quality, including: utilization rates; forecasting accuracy (forecast-actual variances); project delivery  (schedule & budget variances); and strategy execution (effective benefit delivery within strategies). Certain data consistency metrics should be monitored as well to ensure that the PPM software application has data credibility. Basic logic checks might include: all projects should have a start/end date, all active resources should have defined capacity greater than zero, and the resource plan should not go beyond the reported project end date.

Using the SPACER Framework:

 

The PDWare™ SPACER framework will help organizations operate more efficiently if the following principles are embraced early on:

 

  • Put Resources First - Understand resource planning is the key to portfolio management. Implementing a formal resource allocation process first provides the foundation for other portfolio management stages. There are no shortcuts to credible resource planning data.
     
  • Understand Your Strategies - Company strategies should be actionable and derived from the overall mission, objectives, values, and vision as determined by management. From there, strategies should be categorized into common themes that can be mapped to projects and programs.
     
  • Know Your Priorities - The process for ranking projects can be simple or complex, but it must be easy to re-rank projects when conditions change. Prioritized resource allocation requires an understanding of the most important projects and the least important projects. High priority projects without clean resource allocations are a frequent cause of delivery failure, excessive costs, and missed market opportunities.
     
  • Ensure Process Consistency - Consistent project execution in an organization with mature planning processes is infinitely easier to achieve. Once projects are slotted and resources are allocated, the focus turns to managing critical end dates and ensuring that work assignments are scheduled within the availability windows. Gate reviews should never conclude without a re-evaluation of assignments for the next phase or sub-project. Adjustments should be made accordingly.

 

PDWare Approach - Getting Started

 

The PDWare philosophy is to first enable priority-based resource planning and allocation (hence the name “ResourceFirstTM”), as it generates the greatest short term impact. We then expand upon that process area with more detailed prioritization and execution methods based on client need.

Supporting this, the ResourceFirstTM Web Client was designed with several different types of users in mind: Team-Member (TM), Resource Manager (RM), Project Manager (PM), PMO/Portfolio Manager, and Administrator. In the interface, the role-based functions are provided in a center for each role. 

The black icons below (depicted in the upper left tray in ResourceFirst) represent the following centers, respectively:

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  • Home (Team member)
  • Resources
  • Projects
  • PMO 
  • Dashboards 
  • Team Member activities (e.g., Timesheets)
  • Administration

Our approach is that software should be simple and practical, and not get in the way. Along those lines, while ResourceFirstTM is a powerful, dynamic software product, all functions it offers rely on a simple set of foundational data:

  • Project data - including charter info, priority, budget, dates, tasks, dependencies & more
  • Resource data - including skills, rate, cost centers, and working hours (i.e., capacity)
  • Effort Forecasts - Time-phased FTEs or hours, by project and resource

To learn more about each of the main centers in ResourceFirstTM, visit the respective sections in this site, where you'll find a wealth of how-to content, instructional videos, best practices, and more.

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