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Project Staffing: 5 Pieces to Solve the Puzzle

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Navigating the complexities of project staffing is akin to solving a multi-dimensional puzzle. In the dynamic world of project management, staffing a project is often a daunting task, primarily due to the fragmentation of critical information across a myriad of systems.  

The project or resource manager, tasked with assembling a team, finds themselves sifting through disconnected data silos to gather information on potential team members. They need insights into each employee’s skill set, current workload, availability, and even cost implications, but these pieces of data are often housed in separate, unconnected systems.

This article will explore the best practices for solving the project staffing puzzle.  

Typical project staffing process

The typical process of project staffing usually consists of three parts.

Project Initiation

When a new project is greenlit, the project manager begins by defining the scope and objectives. They create a detailed plan that outlines the tasks, timelines, and, crucially, the human resources needed to bring the project to fruition. This plan is the blueprint that guides the entire staffing process.

Resource request

With the project plan in hand, the project manager identifies the specific roles and skills required to meet the project’s needs. In a typical matrix organization, a project manager makes a   formal request for these resources to a Resource manager (sometimes called a People manager). This step often involves specifying not just the roles but also the desired experience level or skills, the duration of the need, and any other pertinent criteria like the percentage of time required.

Resource allocation

Now, the resource manager comes into play. They receive the project manager’s request and begin the crucial task of matching available resources with the project’s requirements.

The resource manager examines the skills, experience, and availability of potential team members. They also consider other factors like the cost implications of different staffing choices and the current workload of each employee or contractor.

Why is it a challenge?

While the staffing process sounds simple in theory, the reality is not so rosy. For it to work flawlessly there must be a centralized system with accurate real-time data about available resources. However, quite often resource and project managers grapple with data fragmentation, having to navigate multiple systems to access essential information like employee skills, workload, and availability. Many organizations still rely on manual processes for resource requests and allocations, which can be slow and error-prone.  

5 key components for an effective project staffing

To establish a robust and dependable resource staffing process, an organization must prioritize the implementation of the centralized project and resource management software to include the following five crucial components.

1. Workload visibility

Having a project management module to track current and future employee assignments is essential. This offers a clear view of ongoing and upcoming tasks, along with resource allocation, enabling managers to make informed decisions. Additionally, it aids in identifying potential overloads or underutilization of resources, ensuring a balanced distribution of work.  

2. Resource availability

Accurate, up-to-date information on employee and contractor schedules, including hours per day, holidays, and planned absences, is vital.  

This information can reside within the project or resource management software or come through an integration with an external HRMS system like Workday.

3. Resource profile

Resource data should also include details about their status (full-time or part-time employee or contractor), skills, job roles, and costs, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of each resource. This component not only helps in identifying who is available but also in aligning specific skills and roles with project requirements.  

Similar to resource availability data, resource profiles can be managed either within the resource management software or can come from an integrated HRMS.  

4. Automated resource requests and approvals

It is important to have an automated way for project managers to request specific people or job roles and for the resource or people managers to receive, review, and either approve or fulfill such requests.   Having software to assist with this process reduces manual errors and speeds up the response time, leading to a more dynamic and responsive staffing process.  

5. Intelligent team staffing   (Intelligent staffing a project team)

The ability of the software to help resource managers select the best possible staffing candidates based on job roles, skills, cost, and availability is crucial. This system should offer intuitive filtering and resource searching to quickly identify the most suitable candidates. Having an AI assistant automatically match the best possible candidates based on the requirements will save the resource manager’s time and improve staffing outcomes.  

The ideal state

Effective staffing is contingent on having all these elements – workload visibility, resource availability, resource profiles, automated resource requests and approvals, and an intelligent team staffing system – in place, up-to-date, and working in harmony. It’s about creating a synergistic environment where every piece of data, every process, and every decision aligns with the broader objectives of efficient project management and resource utilization. Birdview PSA is meticulously designed to meet these requirements, providing an all-encompassing, integrated solution that simplifies project staffing. By consolidating crucial staffing functions into one platform, Birdview PSA not only enhances the effectiveness of the staffing process but also elevates the overall project management experience.

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