If your project team is working within a larger project management department, then you are probably sharing resources with other project managers. Sharing in this context is a misnomer, because resources are given specific assignments, and cannot usually work on other projects concurrently. If another project manager wants to use your resource, they will have to either wait their turn or appeal to management for a restructuring.
When that happens, you will probably have to defend your team’s composition. Some project management offices do this as part of a regular process, be it daily, weekly, or monthly, where team assignments are shuffled around based on where they are most needed. If you’re not careful, you could end up being stripped of a vital team member at a critical moment.
To prevent that, you need to go into meetings organized and prepared. Here are a few things you should have ready:
The point of a resource assessment meeting is to determine who is being used for what, and if they can be freed up and reassigned elsewhere. Bring in a complete task list or resource-loading report for every single one of your team members to show that they are necessary for you to meet your deadlines. Bring a separate list of future tasks as well, so that the other project managers will know that your team members have other important tasks coming down the line. If you can bring a task list that shows inter-dependencies, all the better.
If you want to keep your team intact, you have to show your manager (and the other PMs) how the loss of one will affect the rest of the team. A Gantt chart can provide an excellent visual representation of your team members’ activities and the dependencies associated with them. Be sure and include dates and deliverables in your risk assessment report, and how these changes will affect the client.
Establish an ETA
You can fight as hard and as long as you want, but you will have to give up your team members eventually. What the above points are trying to do is to help you keep them through the critical period. You may be fostering teamwork within your own group, but you also have to do so within the larger organization. And that means compromises.
Set an estimated date or period when the team member in question will be able to safely switch projects. If that is not good enough for the requesting project manager, work with them to reach an effective date that will work. Think of the box situations if you need to, such as trading one specialization for another, so there will not be a net loss of manpower on either end.
Even if the situation doesn’t work out for you, and you do end up losing vital resources, remember that these are not your team members: they’re the company’s. Management is doing its best to balance resources so that every project becomes a success, not just one. Keep this perspective and allow your fellow project manager this favor.
Because next meeting, it’ll be your turn.