“Rainey, are you aware of any recent changes with Mani?” Don was having lunch with Rainey, the Analysis and Design Manager and Mani’s resource manager. “She’s missed a couple of deadlines, which is unusual for her, and one of the business contacts mentioned she’s been ‘testy’ in some of the meetings. I’m concerned.” Rainey, after a thoughtful pause, replied “Have you asked her about it?” “No,” Don answered, “not yet. I will talk to her this afternoon; since we were here, I just thought I’d see if you had any background.”
Up to now in my series on The Project Manager’s Cycle we’ve primarily been working with numbers and reports, with little communication outside the project team. This is the first activity where we start coordinating with project stakeholders. This activity assumes a matrix organization, where you have temporarily and/or partially borrowed resources from department managers in order to staff the project. If you own the resources – that is, they report directly to you as their line manager – then you can skip this activity.
This activity takes as input the results of the previous two activities: replanning the schedule and reviewing team member progress and productivity. As a result of those activities, there may be changes to the planned utilization of team members or concerns about their performance or productivity that you need to discuss with their managers.
For each project team member, prepare a schedule that shows their expected allocation by week for the next several weeks. Depending on the organization and the resource manager’s planning cycle, this may be as short as 3-4 weeks; other managers may require three months or a full schedule showing the allocation as long as the resource is needed.
You may also want to provide the information by task with completion dates, depending on the detail that the resource manager wants to see. You can use your scheduling tool’s Gantt chart feature or populate a spreadsheet.
Provide these reports to the resource managers and, where appropriate, schedule to meet with them, especially if there are performance or productivity concerns. Review the report, productivity, progress, and any changes you’ve noted from prior weeks.
But don’t expect the resource managers to just accept your plan. They may actually have assignments, priorities, and expectations for these same resources, which, of course, may require some negotiation on your part and the possibility that you are back to replanning the schedule.
When you have performance or productivity problems with a project team member, do you talk to the team member first or to their resource manager? Why?