Use Your Project Portfolio to Improve Your Workforce

Managing your organization’s human capital assets is an ongoing task. Most businesses see their needs change over time, from increasing the size of the workforce to tapping new types of talent. For PMs, keeping the internal skills in tune with the company’s needs can be a challenge, but it contributes greatly to your project portfolio success.

Project Portfolio

Though the human resource department often handles most of these employment issues, PMs can also leverage insight pulled from the project portfolio to help improve the organization’s workforce. The portfolio is a valuable asset that helps PMs understand more about the staffing levels and worker skills that will be needed from one initiative to the next. This data can then be useful in maintaining an efficient and proficient workforce.

For example, a review of the project portfolio will identify the types of human assets neededto execute key activities. Estimating staffing requirements goes beyond a simple number, since most project tasks call for particular expertise or credentials. An upcoming project may benefit from someone with experience teaching users how to navigate a new software platform, or an expert who can help guide the company through a regulatory review. To avoid delays and ensure your projects deliver the expected results, it’s important to understand exactly what sort of resource is necessary at each step along the way.

The project portfolio can also show trends around when staff will be neededfor the various initiatives. Resource levels usually ebb and flow, with more workers needed for peak times of heavy activity. Along the same lines, those with niche skills are often necessary for only a portion of a project. One advantage of identifying the timing for various staff requirements is that the team can develop a strategy to take best advantage of their resources. How will day-to-day operations be handled during intense work periods, such as budget cycles or annual performance reviews? Is it possible to consolidate tasks from multiple projects so employees can use their time more efficiently?

Evaluating workforce needs across the entire project portfolio helps show the details of labor demands and where resource conflicts may exist. If peak workforce levels in two or more simultaneous projects overlap, the organization could find itself desperately short of staff at a critical time. By examining where the resource needs are at their height and where troughs occur, PMs can resequence labor-intensive activities and smooth out these demand curves. It’s also a good idea during this exercise to ensure any tasks that depend on similar resources are adjacent to each other wherever possible. When work types are scheduled close to each other, the organization can often reduce travel expenditures, outside labor fees, and other costs that would otherwise escalate if coordinated in disparate chunks.

Another advantage of using a portfolio view to manage your organization’s projects is that you can also take advantage of the who/when/where data to continuously develop your internal talent pool. Look for learning opportunities to grow team members’ skills or build other assets within the group, as these will benefit the business in the long run. If there are instances where niche skills will be needed several months down the road, consider if it’s possible to schedule training now so your employees are ready to tackle those tasks when the time comes. Or look for ways to provide your interns or other junior-level workers with valuable job skills through hands-on experience. Team members whose stretch goals include developing new competencies or adding to existing talents may also be good candidates for activities that will be key to the success of one or more projects.


PMAlliance, Inc offers project management consultingproject management training and projecportfolio management services.

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