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Friday, 04 December 2015 06:45

Allocate Project Resources

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2015.02.12

Learn How To Allocate Project Resources to Start the Year

Portfolio management is a process that ensures the scarce resources of the organization are allocated to the most important work. There are two major components required to carry this out. First the executive team prioritizes projects based on which are most important. Second, the staffing managers ensure that the right resources are applied to execute the work as efficiently as possible.

In this column we will focus on how staffing managers allocate their resources. The staffing managers don’t need to plan the work at the detailed day-by-day basis. They only need to keep track of the type of work, the number of resources required, the likely candidates to fill the openings, and the likely start date and end dates.

Staffing managers have the most work to support projects at the beginning of the year. It certainly is challenging, but it is doable. Use the following tips to get the year started right.

Carry Over Projects

These projects are in progress at the end of one fiscal year and will continue into the new fiscal year. For the most part, the staff in place at the end of the fiscal year will be the same staff in place at the beginning of the new year. The staffing managers should already have the staffing planned out for the remainder of these project.

New Projects

New projects must be slotted to start throughout the year based on the availability of resources and the dates that projects are due. As the year progresses, this portfolio work schedule is usually pretty solid for the current one-to-three months and then progressively less certain in the following months. From a staffing perspective, keep the following items in mind.

  • Some projects must start within a particular timeframe. It seems like sponsors always want their projects to start immediately, but the staffing managers must understand if there is a business driver to start in a certain timeframe.

  • Some projects have fixed end dates. It is actually more common for a project to have a fixed end date than a fixed start date. There may be some flexibility on when a project starts, as long as it is completed by a certain date.

  • Slot the other projects based on priority and available staff. The best scenario is one where projects are winding down and releasing resources that can be immediately applied to new projects that are starting up. Staff the highest priority work first. In some cases lower priority projects will start earlier based on the skills of the available resources.

  • Make sure the stakeholders can support the projects. There may be instances where the staffing managers have the available resources, but a stakeholder department cannot support the project at that time.
Work will be completed faster if staff are not allocated to too many projects at once. If staff cannot be dedicated to one project, each person should only be allocated to two or three projects - not ten.

The work schedule will change based on new projects and priorities that come up during the year and changes to existing projects. But these changes can be managed proactively given the initial approved baseline work schedule. 
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit or contact us at
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