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Video: 2020 Virtual Conference Plan People to Priorities

July 15, 2020 | By Tempus Resource

Tempus Resource 2020 Conference Recap: Lloyd Norman, Zions Bancorporation

With over one million customers between Texas and Washington state, Zions Bancorporation and its affiliates require optimized resource management for its many functions, including treasury management, mobile banking, risk compliance, regulatory, and legal. In his presentation at the Tempus Resource 2020 Conference, Lloyd Norman, Senior Vice President and the Senior Planning and Delivery Services Manager for resource planning, shares the formula that saves Zions Bancorporation hundreds of man hours and millions of dollars: efficient processes plus Tempus Resource at every level of operations.

Using Tempus at Every Level

Three years ago, Zions Bancorporation began transforming their resource management processes with Tempus. Every level of the organization uses Tempus and experiences time and efficiency benefits. Employee time is pulled into Tempus weekly, Project and SCRUM managers conduct monthly financial reconciliation, resource managers forecast teams and projects for over 140 unique job roles, and senior management review reports, identify constraints, and manage portfolio risks.

Driving Answers to Key Questions

Zions Bancorporation’s resource management approach begins by posing several key questions:

  • What strategic work is resource constrained (and what constitutes “strategic work”)?
  • What resource risks may become constraints?
  • Are we properly capturing all capitalizable labor?
  • What work is planned and what have people actually been doing?
  • Where do we have capacity now?
  • How accurate are forecasts for planned work?
  • How should we reassign our people when unplanned work arrives?

Then, using Tempus, driving answers with the following RMO activities, scheduled in a way that works for your enterprise (daily, weekly, monthly, annually, or ad hoc):

  • Update all project/work attributes (metadata)
  • Update resource attributes
  • Align enterprise strategy to work and size work with SMEs
  • In recurring meetings with Program and Senior Managers, review start dates, unplanned work, constraint resolution, risk mitigation, and forecast quality accountability
  • Generate and review reports


With Tempus at work in every organizational level, it’s no surprise that Mr. Norman reports benefits across all levels. Zions Bancorporation’s RMO has been “wildly efficient, driving millions worth of clearly definable savings into the enterprise.”

Additional benefits include:

  • Visibility gained across the entire enterprise
  • Ability to share data with the C-suite in tools they are accustomed to
  • Higher confidence in cost and other estimates
  • Fewer personnel arbitrations
  • Improved capitalization
  • Improved retention
  • Improved time to market
  • Millions in savings on run time costs
  • Resource managers who adapt to change and unplanned work more effectively
  • Better demand visibility
  • Easier backlog planning
  • Early visibility into portfolio risks and hiring needs

By aligning resources with strategic work and ensuring the right people are available on a complex mix of operational, project, and agile teams, Zions Bancorporation uses its lightweight processes and early visibility into risks and constraints to stand fully prepared to adjust to unplanned work. “Plan people to priorities,” Mr. Norman affirmed.

Transcript: Planning People to Priorities

My name is Lloyd Norman and I work with Zions Bank Corporation.  I appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you today about resource portfolio management.  I run the RMO at Zions Bank Corporation.  For those of you who are not familiar with Zions Bank Corporation, we have affiliated banks in the western United States.  We manage roughly $70 billion worth of assets, over a million customers from Texas through Washington State.  If you’re in the Idaho/Utah area, you’ll be familiar with the Zions Bank logo, but if you’re in other places some of the other banks that are part of our affiliates would be Amegy Bank of Texas, California Bank and Trust, Commerce Bank of Oregon, Commerce Bank of Washington and others, Factor Bank of Colorado.  We are a financial institution and, as such, we do all the complex work that you might guess is involved in that, everything from treasury management to mobile banking, risk compliance, audit and regulatory, legal, all of those things.

The job of the RMO is really emerging in Zions Bank Corp and we plan people to priorities and I’ve appreciated several of the presentations that have occurred already today.  I appreciate ProSymmetry for scheduling this.  The concept of people, and I realize it’s sort of a new age thing if you will, but I prefer to use the term “people over resources” even though I’m here to talk to you about resource portfolio management.

Tempus + Proficient Processes = RPM Benefits

If you look at what we’ve done at Zions Bank, I think it really has taught a couple of lessons.  One is no matter what your automation tool is, you’ve got to have proficient processes that work with that in order to make it work.  If you really want to drive benefits, your processes need to be lightweight and strong.  I tell people that we’re continually aiming for the carbon fiber processes, lightweight, strong, efficient.  We’re extremely happy that a little over three years ago now we combined our emerging processes with Tempus.  We did an extensive evaluation process at the time looking at various PPM tools, how we might adjust our processes using Excel.  We looked at a variety of different tools and we chose Tempus and have really never looked back.  I perceived them to be the leader at the time and very much still feel that way now.  We are now three years later using Tempus in every layer of our ETO (enterprise technology operations).  We literally forecast millions of hours a month across over 500 project Agile and production support initiatives and every single layer here you can kind of see a bit of how Tempus is used essentially at the very basic level and we’ve got people.  People track their time.  We use a separate time tracking tool because we’ve been mandated by our finance and accounting department to do so, but we pull those hours in every month.  Actually we pull them in every week into Tempus so people are tracking their time weekly.

Project and Scrum Masters.  We have over 70 of them that are using Tempus.  They forecast.  They’re in and out of there all the time but are required to do monthly financial reconciliation for internal labor and external labor, both of which we track into this.

Resource managers.  We have over 85 of them cross functionally supporting various projects and initiatives.

Over 140 unique job roles.  Those 85, and we have others that we’re still pulling in, and that’s about 60 percent of the resource management community.

We are continuing to broaden our footprint, but we went to the most problematic resources at first (i.e., those that are most constrained).  We started there and we’ve been expanding ours so all of them also forecast their teams.  Their projects that are working with team members that they supply have a delicate dance, if you will, between what the PMs put in and what the RMs put in.  I’ll talk about that as well.

Program management and senior management mostly review reports.  We’re able to provide some really interesting data for them about where constraints are, where risks are, and we can show them over-allocated roles.  I’ll get into that in just a couple minutes.  I’ve got about 10 slides here.  Clearly in terms of benefits visibility there’s already been talk about if you really want to make this work you’ve got to provide a visibility across the enterprise.  We are doing that, both for users and non-users of Tempus.  I’m not so naïve as to think that I’m going to get the C-suite to log into Tempus, as much as I would love to have that happen.  We’re typically exporting data and formatting it and creating dashboards and sharing it with then in tools that they’re accustomed to seeing.  And our confidence in our cost and delivery and total cost of ownership estimates has risen dramatically and obviously we’re seeing fewer personnel arbitrations and we’re seeing grossly improved capitalization, which is something that I’m going to share about as well.  You go from a lightweight process perspective where we’re providing notifications; any time there’s a constraint the resource managers that are using Tempus are updating that constraint status.  We pull the status weekly and have a well-groomed escalation process for that.

Exception Reports.  If we can tell if people are not in their forecasting in a way that’s not accurate and meaningful we’re calling them out on that.  We regularly review plan versus actual variants, not really for punitive reasons but really so that we can identify where we have issues in terms of how people are billing for specific projects or do we have particular job roles that are particularly challenging to enter forecast for the scrum master and project management community, all of which we can go help to try to improve.

1 Hour/Month of Resource Portfolio Management. 

So, lightweight processes and everybody using this, I say everybody, but clearly we’re still growing our footprint, but up and down the line everybody receiving benefit from that and let’s talk about benefits here. A couple of things here.  In any layer in this triangle, in this pyramid so to speak, we never expect more than one hour a month of process related to resource portfolio management.   You’ve got to keep these things lightweight or people are simply not going to adopt them.  At the bottom level it’s people.  They track their time.  The benefit for them is a huge reduction in heroic efforts.  I have had numerous resource managers contact me and thank me and tell me that they don’t have their people pushing 60-80 hour weeks anymore.  That’s great and probably the most rewarding aspect of what we do.  I’m a firm believer that for better for worse people take a lot of what goes on at work home with them and if you’re stressing out individuals, you’re likely stressing out families.  The ramifications of stressing out families, I would submit to you, is not good for communities or society at large.  You may think that’s a little altruistic, a little bit broad, but I absolutely believe that very much.  I’ve been on the receiving end of that.

Project and scrum masters.  I could tell you but I won’t tell you the reduction in the number of projects that we’ve seen added to push their schedules due to resource delays.  It was absolutely abysmal if I may say prior to our implementing this process.  We are saving millions of dollars just in run time costs alone let alone the improved time to market and we’re bringing new capabilities.

Resource Managers.  We are greatly reducing their context switching.  It used to be that they were very much indirect driven and now this gets back to some of the principles that Donna espoused, if you have a steadier flow, it’s much easier to adapt to change.  We’re seeing that across the board for those who are using Tempus and you’re much more effectively able to adapt to unplanned work and of course a much longer runway in terms of demand visibility, what’s coming down the pipe.

Senior Management.  Again a greater labor capitalization, much higher and effective in granular look, what are our total costs of ownership, all of which was, I’m going to say just flat out unreasonable to try to get at prior to us implementing these procedures and, of course, from a senior management perspective and also early visibility to portfolio and project risks and hiring needs.

Resource Portfolio Management:  Key Questions

I sort of capture some of this, so what are some of the key questions that we’ve been driving the answer?  Many of these are similar to what Bob Blackburn talked about.

  • What strategic work is constrained? And I would submit to you that that’s a layered question right there.  The first thing you’ve got to identify is what is your strategic work.  Right?
  • Then you have to find out what risks may become constraints and I’ll speak to that in just a minute a little more deeply.
  • Are we capturing all capitalizable labor?
  • Work is planned but what have people actually been doing?
  • Where do we have capacity now?

It was interesting one of the last times I met with my CIO I came in planning to discuss based on our models where we have over-allocated resources and she really flipped the table as CIOs are known to do, make you think a little more broadly, she immediately started getting off of that topic and asking where do we have capacity.

I know you’ll figure out the other three issues.  Where do we have capacity and what can we do with those people and it just led to all kinds of very interesting discussions, which also assume, by the way, that you have some sort of reasonable confidence in the accuracy of your forecast especially for planned work.

What Strategic Work is Constrained?

So let me talk through some of these things really quickly. We identify constraints across all work types, waterfall projects, Agile, initiatives and production support work, all of it.  We have, using the assignment attribute, people go in and update specifically, based on a number of different constraint types, what the problem is.  If they flat don’t have anybody, they tell us I don’t have anybody.  So if they’ve been working on hiring and the resolution has somewhat been identified, I’m going to bring more resources to bear but if they haven’t been able to hire then that’s an issue especially if you’re trying to replace a single-threaded resource, which we also help identify.  Every time a constraint goes red, the PM receives e-mail notification of that or the same as if a reject occurs.  We pull those stats weekly and share those with senior and executive management regularly.

What Risks Might Become Constraints?

We have an ongoing model that we work with and again it cuts across all of our different initiatives.  We are able to identify over-allocated and single-threaded roles.  And this is what I mean by risks becoming constraints.  If you’ve got over-allocated roles, something like here, you’ve got a manager here, you’ve got a specific role here.  It’s showing 119 percent utilization.  Well, there’s several things you’ve got to think about before you start escalating this.  The first thing is how accurate is your data.  It’s very easy for us to go back and look 90 days and see what’s the forecast accuracy by job role for this manager.  If this particular manager has been hovering around 70 percent forecast accuracy, I’m not even darkening the hallway of anybody else because saying that hey they’re forecasting 120 percent over allocation for the next six months, I’m not going to go have that discussion.  It’s the price you pay for crappy forecasting.  Quite obviously that question is going to come from the executive frame; however, if in this case you’ve got a named resource that’s a single-threaded role and you’re portending 200 percent allocation for a single-threaded role, then you better go address that situation. You better get on it early even if it’s six months out because there’s a reason why you’ve got a single-threaded role.  Likely because it’s a very unique skill set and you better not bury your unique skill sets, so we have avoided numerous issues that used to plague us prior to us implementing a resource portfolio management approach that fully integrates all of our work.

Resource Planning for Agile Teams

We are a blended environment as most peers in our industry are, meaning that we’ve got a variety of waterfall projects, Agile initiatives, production support work.  But for Agile teams, and I would submit to you that you very much need to be involved in resource planning for these teams.  If you get somebody that comes at you and tells you, hey we’ve got a dedicated team and it’s fully cross-functional and we’re rockin’ and rollin’, then I’ll say, great.  God bless you.  Almost none of our teams are that way.  That’s an aspiration for us.  We are not going to be there for quite some time.  Agile teams have to bring in shared resources and they have to make sure that when their shared resources are committed that they’re going to arrive when they do or you bog down the whole team.  We also track the composition of Agile teams themselves.  You have some teams that will never be cross-functional the way they’re currently organized.  For example, if you have specialized developer roles, your business analyst or the QA people that are on those teams are never going to be able to pick up that skill set.  They’re just not going to do it.  They’re familiar with it, they have that associational knowledge that Donna spoke of, but they’re never going to get that skill set.  If you bury that skill set you bury the whole team.  I would love to be able to share with you stories about how other teams had to pull specialized people off of their teams to support specific efforts and it essentially blew up the whole BI session.  That whole quarter was blown away for those other teams.  They did what they could against the backlog but they lost their critical resources.  You’ve got to be thinking if you’re here in a safe environment which we’re in, scaled as your framework, you need to be coordinating with your product managers, product owners, people doing lean portfolio management so that you give the early visibility into what demand is headed their way making sure it’s in their backlog and making sure that the timing works with their interdependencies, not only intra-role within the teams but with these other external production support and Agile initiatives and possibly with other Agile teams as the number of Agile teams in the organization grows.

Why Work is Planned and What Have People Been Doing?

A couple of other things and hopefully if you have access to the kind of data you have, you’re using it to actually help in a forward-looking way.  So there’s a part of me that says, “What’s behind you is behind you is behind you.”  But on the other hand, you can learn from it so what we’d like for you to do is take a look at what was planned for the year, what they’ve actually done year-to-date and should you adjust your forecasted plan based on what you actually did in the last 90 days. We are able to give that kind of information every month to the resource management community and let them make those adjustments in real time.

How Accurate are Project Forecasts?

Project managers can do the same thing.  We love the fact that you see plan and actuals right there in the project view and super easy for people to see here’s what I planned in May.  Here’s what my actuals were.  I probably ought to go have a discussion with this person because it looks like the trend is continuing into June so what are they doing.  I was actually in a meeting just yesterday with a group of project managers, one of whom was fairly new to our enterprise.  I just happened to pick her project and we were looking at it and she started saying, “Who is that person?  I don’t even know that person.”  I looked at their actuals and for the last 90 days they’ve been billing big-time to her project.  She had no idea who they were.  Again, this is not an indictment on her.  She is new to the process and education is an ongoing endeavor of course.  Just saying that when you have the data it doesn’t lie and as it turned out, even over the course of that meeting as I was working with someone else, she was meeting with this person and the guy was from the support group and actually was working on her project.

All of this is about full visibility and making sure that across the entire portfolio that everybody is working to a set of common lightweight processes and especially executive management backed expectations.

Required RMO Activities:  Data Quality and Visibility

Last slide here.  I could spend a lot of time here talking about this but I won’t.  What I’ll say is we do things at all of these various cadences, we provide notifications daily when people get rejections or new constraints arise.  We load data weekly.  Our actuals get loaded weekly.  We have tasks that we do monthly, annually, and on an ad hoc basis.  We’re always getting pulled into additional training, conversations, portfolio planning.  We have an annual roadmap process that I lead sizing efforts for and all of these things you have to do.   You have to make sure that the quality of your data and the visibility of your data are as good as they possibly can be.

There are times, in fact, when you (if I can pop back here for a second) have to do things by work type and it’s always great if you can look at things project by project by project but we have some groups that are production support that cannot tell you what project numbers are going to be supporting the 30 days in advance but they can tell you historically 30 percent of my team’s time has been maintenance, you know the X amount of time has been admin which leaves this much time for operational enhancement work, which if you’re smart about how you model, then Tips gives you the ability to just go in an click off things by certain attributes.  Many is the time I’ve gone into teams where new work has come in and I say good.  Let’s go in and just shut off everything you’re doing that’s an enhancement right now.  We can go in and shut off low priority work and say how much bandwidth do you now have to take on this work and that prompts the right discussion as to should we do that because even low priority work, if you were about to deliver it, it probably doesn’t make sense to.

So, all of these areas here are important and we’ve got several key integrations for us and we’re building more.  Our Agile software is something we’re looking at automating the integration to.  We already do that with our PPM tool, we do it with our time tracking tool, we are now doing it with our HR system so that we’re aware of access management issues when we have new people on board, people leave.  Those things are important.  What I’ll tell you is that our RMO model is what I would consider wildly efficient.  We literally drive millions of dollars’ worth of clearly definable hard dollar savings into our enterprise and we have a staff of three people, myself and two of the brightest people I could have ever hoped to hire and they are wonderful.  I’d love to have a whole discussion about the kind of people you want to have staffing an RMO that supports cross-functional delivery like this.  The critical thinking, judgement and legal skills are amongst those skills you need to be hiring for.


So, I’m very happy to entertain questions and I think I’ve about used my allotted time here so I’ll turn the time back over to you, Greg.






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