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What Comes First, Resource Management or Portfolio Project Management?

September 26, 2022 | By Samantha Varner

What comes first in your planning cycle: resource management or portfolio project management? In many ways, this question is the business version of the chicken and the egg conundrum. There simply isn’t a clear answer.

After all, you need people to complete projects, but you also need projects for people to work on. So to better understand the foundation of this question—and where your planning energy is best spent—let’s dig into these interdependent concepts.

The intersection of people and projects

Everything starts with the company’s vision and goals. Together, these dictate the portfolio, and the portfolio then drives projects. Easy as 1-2-3, right?

But we could also argue that together, a company’s vision and goals define its mission. Employees are most often drawn to companies where they feel both connected to the mission and that they can grow their experience. 

In this way, what drives a company’s strategic portfolio management is the same thing that draws employees to the company itself. Projects and people are fundamentally connected to one another.

Optimizing through allocation

Your team members represent a pool of skills, experience, and desires. While there’s always the potential of upskilling and individual goals changing over time, these things are more or less fixed in the present moment. How these attributes fit into and support the project portfolio is where we see project management and resource management intertwine.

During project planning, company leadership is going to devise initiatives based on the overall mission. These initiatives may or may not require the skills, benefit from the experience, or match the desires of your current resource pool. Resource management is the practice of evaluating these attributes and finding the best way to allocate resources in order to support all projects.

As you can see, resource management and project management are not sequential. Rather, they should be happening concurrently to maximize project and portfolio success.

The power of the resource manager

The question now is how we can optimize resource allocation while also giving our people the opportunity to evolve. While certainly a balancing act, this can absolutely be done, especially if resource managers focus on three key areas.

First, resource managers should stay in tune with the direction the company is going. Are you expanding into new markets? Are you noticing emerging trends within the industry? By understanding where you are now as well as where you’re headed, you can identify skills that will be required in the future and give current employees the opportunity to grow through upskilling.

Second, keep your finger on the pulse on people’s career desires. What gets them excited? Is there a business analyst who wants to become a project manager? Does someone want more responsibility? These are all opportunities to lend more support to current projects while allowing your people to move in the direction of their own goals.

Finally, pay attention to what is being asked in each portfolio. The more you understand, the better equipped you’ll be to find opportunities where your existing team can fit in. 

The most successful resource managers will be the ones that understand current and planned projects as well as where the company is going. This insight enables them to match resources to work where they will both add the most value and gain the most value. But in order for resource managers to succeed, they must have access to software that puts the project and resource data they need right at their fingertips.

Tempus Resource is a resource management solution built to go beyond traditional project management tools. With features like skills and competency management, resource managers can easily identify which people will bring the most value to each project. Unique competency measurements also mean you can address competency gaps before they become an issue. Discover Tempus Resource, the only software purpose-built for efficiency, ease, and insight as you manage your resources. Contact us today or schedule a demo.

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