From Clarity to Commitment; Building Your Resource Plan

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I am always amazed by the lack of commitment by far too many team members when it comes to the creation of project deliverables. And when I say commitment, I mean commitment to create quality products that meet all client/stakeholder expectations and satisfy all organizational/industry/regulatory standards and specifications as well as the necessary timeline to meets the needs of the project team.

As mentioned in a previous post (Building Your Responsibility Matrix), the journey to commitment begins by getting clarity on who is responsible for what but that in itself does not create commitment. Commitment is combination of knowing we have the competency, resources and time to get the job done while meeting or exceeding expectations. The Responsibility Matrix is a powerful tool 1) to get commitment to requirements and expectations, 2) to be accountable to stakeholders and team members, 3) to confirm knowledge, skills and experience, 4) to identify the resources required in the creation of the deliverable.

But it does not create a commitment to required timelines. To achieve this, we must use the Responsibility Matrix as the basis for our Resource Plan. Here’s how; When you set up the Responsibility Matrix, be sure to include the following;

Once the Responsibility Matrix is complete, I recommend sitting with all stakeholders. Typically, I will meet with all stakeholders from each functional area as a workshop to identify estimated hours. Insert the agreed upon hours in the blank column next to the responsibility level (RASCI). This critical step is too often bypassed because we either don’t trust our team members to accurately estimate the required hours or we simply are making up bad numbers to align with a bad estimate or schedule. This step will tell the project team whether the milestone dates imposed on the project team are realistic or not and is critical fro driving commitment.

Remember, all roles with the exception of Informed (I) will have time requirements including those to whom we are Accountable (A – the customers). This role must clearly define expectations in advance of the Resource Planning process (more expectations will drive higher levels of effort) and confirm that the deliverable meets or exceeds these agreed to expectations once completed. So if you have a responsibility letter (RASC) under a stakeholders name, you have to insert a time estimate.

These estimates may be wild guesses for many of the deliverables and tasks but using this granular approach, tends to balance out and can create a robust Resource Plan that allocates the appropriate hours by deliverable and by role. Because of this, many of the estimates will be wrong and will need to be revised through change management but overall, this methodology will give you a much better overall estimate of the effort required to be successful in meeting cost, schedule and quality commitments.

You will also likely find that some people tend to underestimate, while others overestimate. Getting group consensus will help to drive accuracy, while analyzing the total number of hours by deliverable and by role, will allow your to stand back and consider whether the level of effort required to complete the specific deliverable is realistic or not. If you do find that someone’s estimates are skewed to the high or low side, you need to work with them and their manager to try to improve the accuracy of the estimates.

This document then becomes the basis for the Project Schedule and Incurred Cash Flow Plan for the cost of human resources.

By being directly involved in defining responsibilities and their required level of effort, each team member is in a position to fully commit to the needs of the project, it’s team members and it’s stakeholders. And if your time tracking system allows you to budget down to the deliverable or task level, then this becomes a powerful tool to identify areas of error in estimation that can be used to drive project change management and continuous improvement from project to project.

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