Archive for April, 2007

Printing Loads of Paper for Project Management

I had to work on an RFP because all our pre-sales guys were too busy with other projects. The RFP had 50+ questions, which is typical. What realy bothered me was the printing!

The RFP was issued by a university looking for a project management solution. Yet they had asked for 5 copies of the material printed and Fedex’ed to them by the deadline. What I do not understand is this: why is a university, which is supposed to represent the future, asking for so much printed paper?

Printing hundreds and hundreds of pages, including the supporting material they asked for, took so much of our assistants’ time. And some of the screenshots did not look so good on paper anyway! But what the hell!

So we spent 2 to 3 hours printing, binding and packaging—5 copies, no less—and then we paid Fedex to deliver this large bulk of paper, which probably no one will read in its entirety.

We could have just emailed the same content; it would have taken 2 to 3 hours less work, and we would have been able to invest an extra day on responding to the questions instead of printing, packing and shipping.

This is a university for heaven’s sake!

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The New New HR? The Changing Role of Human Resource Management: Part 1

In the flat world, the function of Human Resource Management is changing from:

Enterprise Talent Management–hiring and filling internal positions by searching and screening candidates … to Global Workforce Planning and Talent Sourcing–working with in-house and remote teams, working with outsourcing partners, and weighing the value/trade-offs of internal vs. external expertise.

For HR to remain relevant, it has to consider:

  • Which positions or entire teams can (or may) be outsourced?
  • What companies can be good outsourced partners?
  • What are the unique specializations and expertise the company needs? And are there companies who have such expertise for hire?
  • Which positions should remain internal and why?

The New New HR collaborates with line-of-business managers, not the CEO. More and more, line-of-business managers are the ones who have the authority, the budget, and accountability to meet their business objectives. These managers will outsource if it make sense to streamline or to get things done faster. Therefore, HR’s role has to change to include business partners and other non-traditional sources of specialized talent.

In the next blog entry on this topic I will discuss how HR has also earned a seat at the table for enterprise wide project management, business process improvement and compliance initiatives.

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Project Managers Must Manage a Project Workforce

In a recent 2-part article on Gantthead.com,

Need Workforce Metrics?! Part 1 and Part 2

Joe Wynne describes a problem we see often in companies who are transitioning to a project-centric approach:

With all the talk about metrics, you’d think there would be something that any project manager could use to gauge the value of the project workforce. Workforce metrics, at their current level of sophistication, do not really help the project manager. They either measure the entire business unit workforce (as in return on talent or return on workforce), or they focus on the individual as in ratings on a periodic performance evaluation. Fat lot of good that does you.

Indeed, the project workforce, not the permanent, enterprise workforce, is the concern of a project manager. Wynne goes on to explain how to maximize that project workforce–based on a characteristic he calls Return to Project Manager (RPM), a nice play on the familiar term Return on Investment (ROI) that gets so overused.

RPM is increased when you raise the skill level, and lower the cost, of your project workforce. Intelligent outsourcing, offshoring, and overall project planning are key to maximizing RPM, Wynne says.

I believe the bottom line here is understanding skills: knowing which ones you have, which ones you don’t, and where to get the skills you need from motivated, high-performing people at the best price. But gaining that understanding of skills can’t begin when it’s time to plan the project–it has to be an ongoing process that begins well in advance.

Wynne’s prescription for maximizing RPM is comprehensive and has a great deal of detail that should be highly useful to PMs who are assembling project workforces. However, some of his steps would be greatly simplified if–and perhaps even require that–the planner already has the tools in place that can inventory the workforce and individuals’ skills, rates, and availability.

With the right workforce tools, it becomes easy and cost effective to perform much of the planning that Wynne describes–planning that might otherwise add significant front-end costs to a project’s budget and timeline.

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