July 26, 2017

Keeping project resourcing on track: How to avoid derailment

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It takes a lot to pull off a number of projects simultaneously: the right resources, a great plan, and most importantly a team with the right expertise. Some variables can be managed with the right planning, but team members leaving midway through projects can throw a spanner in the works.

Just recently, the UK’s highest paid civil servant, Simon Kirby, who was the CEO of HS2—a multibillion dollar high speed rail line designed to create a faster link between London and the North of the UK—quit after just two years. Given the skills required for the job, which encompassed overseeing everything from power lines, train station upgrades, communications and signal equipment, this departure could potentially derail everything.

The key to swift replacement

The idea of ‘a job for life’ is becoming increasingly outdated—it’s a fact of life that people are moving companies more often. So what can be done when someone skilled leaves a project team? The first step is looking at the talent you have left: do people remaining within the organization have the right skills to replace the person leaving? A good project management platform (PPM) can tell you who the right person is to fill a gap in resourcing—identifying skills gaps and where you need to hire to keep everything running on time.

The knowledge transfer conundrum

It’s not just finding a replacement that can be a problem; mega-projects, such as HS2, need people who have highly specialized knowledge to keep things running smoothly. This means that organizations must be able to transfer this knowledge to a replacement or mission critical information will fall through the gaps. This is why it is vital that all data relating to projects is captured in a central repository so that if someone moves on that data isn’t living in a silo. A PPM system collates information from all the different data sources and ensure no knowledge is lost to begin with, and data relating to different kinds of projects is recorded in a uniform format.

Be prepared

Another way you can help to avoid the potential chaos is to put contingency plans in place that will help to steer everything in the right direction if important staff members leave. The right PPM solution will help you launch a pre-emptive strike to identify where there might be resource gaps that you need to fill to ensure you are covered if someone does decide to leave in the future. By putting the right plans or contingencies in place you can help ensure projects don’t fail even if a key link is removed from the chain.

Replacing a staff member is never easy, but when the success of projects hangs in the balance you need to have the right systems in place that make a transition as smooth as possible. This can really be a make or break point in proceedings. By ensuring you can find the right replacement and bring them up to speed as quickly as possible you can ensure your project isn’t late pulling into the station when it gets to the end of the line.

If you want any further information, please get in touch with us here and we’d be happy to give you a demo or answer any questions you may have.

About Alan Shefveland

Alan Shefveland is the Director of Product Management — Strategy & Innovation at Changepoint. He has more than 37 years of experience facilitating business and technology transformation for companies. For more than 25 years, Alan has demonstrated leadership with project, portfolio, and value management process implementations that span a wide variety of industry verticals, including finance, high-tech, light manufacturing, telecommunications, and utilities.