Project Intake and Resource Management: The Foundation for Project Success

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A frequent request from organizations is, “Can you help me improve my project management processes? They just aren’t working!”

What they think they are asking for is assistance with implementing templates and processes that will help projects run better.  While this is absolutely necessary when it comes to successful project management, there are major components external to your project management methodology that contribute to the success of projects.

Let’s take a look at two primary functions that must be given consideration in order to set projects up for success:  

Project Intake/Portfolio Management

What would our air space safety and success look like if every plane acted independently?  Choosing to take off and land where they want, when they want – considering no other planes.  It would be an absolute mess, and likely have many issues with quality, timing, safety, and customer satisfaction.

This scenario is no different than a project.  If you have projects with great processes and templates, but are crashing into each other, that is just as much of a threat (if not more) to the success of the project, than not having the right processes.   

A well-defined project intake process should include a consistent way to request new projects, an efficient way to gather enough information to determine priority, and a process in place to make decisions on new requests:  start them now, hold until next open stop or slow down existing projects, or defer the request for later determination. 

Of course, if you start it now, with an already full project load, then according to our iron triangle, you will need to add resources (either financial or human), or extend the schedules of current projects already “in flight”, in order to maintain the quality and safety of your current portfolio of projects.

The next factor contributing to the success of your projects is:  

Resource Management

This topic is truly foundational to project and portfolio success. Your project manager can negotiate a resource plan, assign resources and percentages that are needed for THEIR project all day long.  But if the FULL resource is not taken into consideration as it relates to both project portfolio and operations, you will end up with overallocated resources and missed deadlines.

Let’s say you understand the first point, and you also implement portfolio management. You can’t make effective portfolio decisions if you do not truly understand the full workload of your resources.

Almost all project management tools tell you they perform resource management.  However, most of these define resource management as the ability to assign a resource and allocate them when determining if the schedule can be met. However, they don’t take into consideration the risk of external resource pulls – the other projects or operational time that has the potential to pull or delay your resource availability and ultimately affect your project. 

Effective resource management processes and tools consider resources as a WHOLE. Resource managers must have a full understanding of everything their resources are working on, in order to have enough information to make effective project and portfolio decisions. 

Implementing project management processes and templates without having a handle on resource management causes issues to surface like frustrated resources, overallocated resources, and resources making decisions to skip the project management processes in place because they simply have too many demands taking up their time.      

Project management methodologies address managing within project boundaries, however you cannot and will not have successful projects unless you view your projects from a holistic perspective, taking into account other projects, operations, and resources. 

I look forward to diving deeper into this topic at the upcoming Resource Planning Summit. 


Heather Casey is President of Lead Strong 414 and is a John Maxwell Team Certified Trainer, Speaker, and Coach with over 20 years of experience in leadership and project management, in multiple industries. Heather will be presenting at the 2019 Resource Planning Summit in Nashville, TN.