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Monday, June 20, 2011

Chapter 42: Developing the Human Resource Plan

In the previous chapter, we saw how important human resources are to the execution of a project. In this chapter, we are going to take a look at how exactly a human resource plan is created.
So, lets get started!!!

Developing the Human Resource Plan

In order to avoid confusion, you must understand the logical relationships among the project, activity resource requirements, roles, and responsibilities etc. Take a look at the image below:

Roles are determined from the resource requirements, and responsibilities are assigned to the
roles to perform the project activities. In a nutshell, project work is generally performed in the form of roles and responsibilities. Project roles, responsibilities of the roles, and reporting relationships among the roles need to be determined in order to perform a project. The usefulness of the concept of a role is that you can talk about it during planning, even before hiring a person who will play this role.

So, a role is a defined function to be performed by a team member, such as a programmer or a tester. The other issue that needs to be addressed before the project can be performed is how and when the project team members will be acquired.

Therefore, two main goals of the human resource planning process are the following:

• Identify and document project roles, responsibilities for each role, and reporting relationships among the roles.
• Develop the staff management plan.

All this planning will go into a document called the human resource plan, which is developed by the Develop Human Resource Plan process as shown in the image below:

Input to Human Resource Planning

Before you can assign the resources to a project, you need to know the resource requirements of the project, which are the main items that you need to plan resources. The other two items are the ones that we have considered as input to every single process we have covered so far: enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets.

Enterprise environmental factors - The enterprise environmental factors that can influence human resource planning include human resources that already exist in the organization and are available for the project, organizational culture, organizational structure, human resource and personnel administration policies of the organization, and marketplace conditions. For example, how do the different departments and the people within the performing organization interact with each other? This will have a profound effect on defining the roles and responsibilities.

Overall, while planning human resources, you must consider the following enterprise environmental factors:

• Interpersonal - The interpersonal environmental factor should be explored while considering the candidates within the performing organization for the project team members. You should seek answers to interpersonal questions, such as:
o What are the job descriptions of the candidates? This will tell you what kind of project activities they might be able to perform.
o What are the skills and experiences of the candidates beyond their current job descriptions?
o What types of formal and informal reporting relationships exist among the candidates? This will help determine who can fit in where.
o What cultural or language differences will possibly affect the working relationships among the candidates? This should be used to optimize the project work results by honoring cultural diversity.
• Logistical - The logistical factor deals with the issue of how the project team is spread out geographically. For example, a relevant question to ask is, are the team members spread out in different buildings, time zones, or countries?
• Organizational - The organizational factor relevant to human resource planning can be identified by answering the following questions:
o Which departments of the performing organization will participate in the project?
o What are the current relationships between these departments?
• Political - Playing politics could be a dirty word for a social reformer, but you need to deal with it tactically by recognizing it as a project reality. To explore the effect of the political factor on human resource planning, you should ask questions such as the following:
o What are the individual goals and agendas of the project stakeholders?
o Which individuals or groups are influential in areas important to the project?
o What are the formal or informal alliances that exist between individuals or departments relevant to the project?
• Technical - Almost all the projects these days include the use of some kind of technology. To explore the effects of technical factors on human resource planning, you should explore answers to questions such as:
o What are the technical specialties, such as software, programming languages, and technical equipment, needed to perform the project?
o Which of these specialties need to be coordinated?
o Are there any technical challenges this project might face?
Organizational process assets - The organizational process assets that can be useful in human resource planning include checklists, templates, organizational standards and procedures, standardized role descriptions, and historical information from previous projects. Some examples of checklists are common project roles in your organization, typical competencies, training programs to consider, team ground rules, and safety considerations. Examples of templates include project organizational charts and standard conflict management approach. Conflict management is discussed in an upcoming chapter.

Activity resource requirements - In the previous chapter, we explored the process of determining the resource requirements for the schedule activities. These requirements include human resource requirements, which are needed to develop the human resource plan. The human resource requirements begin as preliminary requirements and are progressively elaborated during planning.

The human resource requirements, a subset of activity resource requirements, are the raw material to determine the roles that will perform the activities. Various tools and techniques are available to convert requirements into roles.

Tools and Techniques for Human Resource Planning

At the heart of resource planning lays the art of converting activities and activity resource requirements into roles and responsibilities. For example, consider an activity in a project, writing a software program. The program will be written by a programmer, which is a human resource. However, before you even know the name of the programmer, you can work with this programmer as a role whose main responsibility is to write the program, and you can assign a real individual to fill this role later. This approach allows for planning before hiring. The tools and techniques used to determine the roles for a project are:

Organizational charts and position descriptions - These charts identify and document the roles of the project team members, the responsibilities assigned to the roles, and the reporting relationships among the roles. Most of the chart formats fall into three categories; hierarchical, matrix, and text-oriented.

Hierarchical - Hierarchical charts are the traditional way to represent the reporting relationships in an organization in a top-down format. Such a chart is also called an organizational breakdown structure (OBS), and it is arranged according to the organization’s existing departments, units, or teams. The OBS will help you to identify team members for the project.
Matrix - A matrix is used to specify the relationships between schedule activities, roles to perform those activities, and team members assigned to the roles. Such a matrix is generally called a responsibility assignment matrix (RAM). Different matrixes can show these relationships at different levels. For example, you can use the RAM to document resource requirements for each activity.

Look at the table below:

Activity Designer Developer Tester Marketer Workstation Server
A 1 - - - - -
B - 6 - - 6 1
C - - 3 - 3 2
D - - - 2 - -
E 1 1 1 - 1 -
As you can see, the Activity B needs 6 developers and 6 workstations on which the developers will work. It will also need 1 server in which the activity B will be performed. You can use a table as above to group your activities and note down the list of resources you might require for each of them.

Text-oriented charts - These charts are useful when the team member responsibilities need to be described in greater detail. A text-oriented chart may include information about role responsibilities, authority, competencies, and required qualifications. In the real world, these charts are known by different names, such as job descriptions and job responsibilities.
Depending upon the project needs, you can use both RAM and text-oriented charts to document roles and responsibilities of those roles. Also, remember that the RAM can be used for various purposes.

You can even include the roles & responsibilities of each of the members of a team using the RAM Table. Look at the table below: We are using the RACI Model. R for Responsible, A for Accountable, C for Consult and I for Inform.

Activity Anand Rocky Ganesh Susan Neil
Design R A I I C
Develop I I R I C
Test C R A I C
Deploy I I A I R
The RAM table above is also called the RACI chart because it assigns four roles to team members for various activities: responsible (R), accountable (A), consult (C), and inform (I). Anand has the responsibility for designing the product whereas Rocky is held accountable for the design. During this process Neil plays the role of a consultant while Ganesh and Susan need to be informed of the progress of the activity.

Each activity or task should have an owner who is responsible for its successful completion. For complex tasks and activities, there may be more roles assigned, but there must be only one principle owner. Joint ownership usually gives rise to confusion, finger pointing, conflict, more overhead, and dilution of commitment.

Networking - Networking is one of the golden secrets you have for succeeding as a project manager, especially in an organization in which functional managers hold all the powers (hiring, firing, bonuses) and the project managers are running around with nothing in their hands other than the project schedules and status reports. To network effectively, you should understand the influence of political and interpersonal factors in your organization that might impact various staffing management options. Some of the essential networking happens at the beginning of each project, and you must make full use of it. However, networking is a regular practice, and you should be using all the human resource network activities, such as proactive correspondence, informal conversations, luncheon meetings, and trade conferences.

Organizational theories - Various organizational theories provide information and insight on how people behave in a team or an organization, what motivates team members, and so on. If you have knowledge of these theories, it will help you plan human resources quickly and use them more effectively. By understanding organizational theories, you can also comprehend why different organizational structures support different kinds of relationships among the organization’s members and different kinds of responses to the same situation.

To summarize, organizational charts, networking, and organizational theories are the main tools and techniques used to determine roles and develop the human resource plan.

Output of Human Resource Planning: The Human Resource Plan

The results of your efforts of human resource planning are documented in what is called the human resource plan. It’s a document that describes roles and responsibilities, reporting relationships among the roles, and staffing management. Following are the main elements of this document:

Roles and responsibilities - This section contains roles and the responsibilities assigned to each role. The schedule project activities will be completed by individuals working in certain roles and performing responsibilities that come with the roles. So, roles and responsibilities are an important output of human resource planning. While determining roles and responsibilities, you must be clear about the following points:

Role - In real life, most activities are performed by people playing certain roles, such as a developer or tester. A role is assigned to a team member who will perform the responsibilities included in the role to complete one or more project activities.
Responsibility - A responsibility is a piece of work that must be performed as part of completing a project activity. Responsibilities can be grouped together as a role.
Competency - Competency is the ability of a team member to play a certain role; that is, to perform the responsibilities assigned to the role. While assigning a role to a team member, you should know whether the team member possesses the skills required to perform the responsibilities of the role. You might need to respond to a mismatch with training, hiring, schedule changes, or scope changes.
Authority - Authority is a right assigned to a role that enables the person playing the role to apply project resources, make certain decisions, or sign approvals. Poorly defined or undefined authorities can cause confusion and conflicts.

Project organizational charts - A project organizational chart displays the project team members and the reporting relationships among them. The level of formality and detail of these charts depends upon the size and needs of the project at hand.

Staffing management plan - After you have determined the roles to perform the activities, you need to identify individuals to fill those roles. The staff management plan describes when and how human resource requirements for a project will be met. When preparing the staff management plan for your project, you must consider the following items:

• Staff acquisition - This will document how the staff for the project will be acquired. To be specific, while planning staff acquisition, you might need to struggle with some of the following questions:
o What are the levels of expertise needed for the project, and what are the associated costs?
o Will the human resources come from within the organization, outside the organization, or both?
o Will the team members be required to work in a central location, or can they work from various locations?
o Will you need the assistance of the human resources department of your organization to acquire the staff?
• Timetable and release criteria - You need to have a timetable for the human resource requirements, describing when and for how long a staff member is needed. The project schedule will help you determine that. The time commitment of human resources can be displayed in charts, such as resource histograms. A resource histogram is a bar chart that illustrates the number of hours of a human resource entity needed each week or month during the project lifecycle. The human resource entity may refer to an individual, a department, or the whole project team. You should also determine the release criteria and the time to release each team member from the project. Planning of release criteria is very important for a smooth transition of team members from one project to another and for the optimal use of the resources.

• Training needs - If some team members lack the adequate level of skills needed for the project, a training plan can be developed as part of the project. This is extremely important for the success of any project because, seldom is the case where you get resources that match the exact role requirements. Sometimes you may get only a partial match and to make the best of the available resource you may have to train them to perform better.

• Compliance and safety - The staff management plan can also include strategies for complying with relevant government regulations, union contracts, and human resource policies. Your organization might have some policies and procedures that protect the team members from safety hazards. These policies and procedures must be included in the staff management plan. For Ex: In India, if your team has to work on a public or national holiday, you need to get an approval from the local labor office reg. your teammates working on a holiday. You need to provide proof to them that, the resources will be compensated with either extra pay or a compensatory day off in return for them working on the national holiday.

• Recognition and rewards - Recognition and rewards are good tools to promote and reinforce desired behavior. However, to use these tools effectively, you must have clear criteria for rewards based on activities and performance of team members. The potential candidate for a reward must have an appropriate level of control over the activity for which the reward will be offered.

In a nutshell, human resource planning accomplishes two things: It determines roles to perform the schedule activities, and it develops a staff management plan to fill those roles with team members. All this information is stored in the document called the human resource plan.

Prev: Introduction to Project Resource Management

Next: Estimating Costs & Determining Budgets

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