Hello and welcome back to our project management series. In the previous posts, we discussed project scope management, project time management, project cost management, and project quality management. In this article, we focus on another important aspect of project management – Project Human Resource Management.

Project Human Resource Management is the aspect of project management that focuses on organizing, managing and leading the project team. This PMP knowledge area has four processes and in this article, we will explore the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of these knowledge areas. The processes are:

  1. Plan Human Resource Management
  2. Acquire Project Team
  3. Develop Project Team
  4. Manage Project Team

The plan human resource management process is a planning process (obviously) while the remaining processes are execution processes. Of all the knowledge areas, project human resource management is the only knowledge area without a monitoring and controlling process.

Plan Human Resource Management

The plan human resource management process involves identifying and documenting project roles, responsibilities, required skills and relationships in order to create a staffing management plan. As seen from the definition, the output of this process is a project human resource management plan.

The major inputs of the plan human resource management process are the project management plan and the activity resource requirements. The project management plan shows the project baselines (scope, time and cost), change requirement plans, and how they integrate to meet the project objectives. The activity resource requirements (that have been defined in the project time project) show the human resource needs of the project. Other inputs of the plan human resource management process include the enterprise environmental factors and organization process assets.

The tools and techniques of the plan human resource management process include:

  1. Organizational charts and position description: These are used to document team member roles and responsibilities. There are three kinds:
    1. Hierarchical Organizational Charts: These are charts that are used to show positions and relationships in a top-down, graphical manner. These charts are similar to the Work breakdown structure created in the project scope management. An example is the Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS). The OBS shows the departmental breakdown of an organization and the project activities that are assigned to each department. Another example of this kind of chart is the Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS). This shows the resource break down for each project activity in a manner similar to the WBS. The RBS can contain other resources that are not human resources.
    2. Matrix Charts: Also called Responsibility Assigned Matrix (RAM). This is used to show the relationship between assigned tasks and resources. It is particularly useful for tasks that have various levels of detail assigned to different people. An example of a RAM is a RACI matrix. RACI stands for (Responsible, Accountable, Consult and Inform). An example of a RACI chart is shown below:

  1. Text formats: These are detailed role descriptions that are shown in text format.
  1. Networking: This involves formal and informal interaction with people in the firm in order to understand the factors that affect the effectiveness of the team.
  2. Organizational theory: This involves using concepts from organizational theories in developing the HR plan.
  3. Expert judgment
  4. Meetings

As mentioned earlier, the output of this process is the project human resource management plan. The plan contains project roles and responsibilities, organizational charts and the staffing management plan.

Acquire Project Team

The acquire project team process involves confirming the availability of human resources required for a project and obtaining the team necessary to perform the project activities. As a project manager, your goal is to work with cross-functional team leaders to acquire the human resources. Sometimes the human resources needed for a project need to be sourced outside the organization. In this case, the project manager needs to work with the procurement team in order to source the personnel required.

The major input of the Acquire Project Team process is the human resource management plan which contains the project roles and responsibilities, organizational charts and the staffing management plan.

The tools and techniques for the Acquire Project Team process include:

  1. Pre-assignment: This is the selection of project team members in advance. This is usually a result of a competitive proposal, or if the project requires the specific expertise of some people. Usually pre-assigned project team members are defined in the project charter.
  2. Negotiation: Usually, a project manager needs to negotiate for the project team with:
    1. Functional managers (e.g. departmental heads)
    2. Other project management teams
    3. External sources (suppliers, vendors, etc)

    A project manager’s ability to negotiate is critical to the success of the project team acquisition because the best human resources are usually scarce and functional managers might need to choose among different project teams.

  3. Acquisition: This involves sourcing for project team members outside the organization. Acquisition can be done by hiring consultants or sub-contracting to another organization.
  4. Virtual teams: These are teams that have little or no face-to-face interaction. As a project manager, you should pay attention to communication issues among virtual team members. We will discuss project communication management in detail in another article.
  5. Multi-criteria decision analysis: This involves using multiple criteria in team selection. Possible team members are rated and scored on several criteria. Some of the criteria can include availability, competency, cost, experience, skills, etc.

The major outputs of the acquire project team process are the project staff assignments and the resource calendars. A resource calendar shows the time when a project team member can carry out an activity.

Develop Project Team

This is the process of improving team member competencies, interaction among team members and the working environment in order to improve the performance of the team members on the project. The outputs of the two processes discussed above (project human resource management plan, staff assignments and resource calendars) serve as inputs to the develop project team process.

The tools and techniques for the develop project team include:

  1. Interpersonal skills: Also known as “soft-skills”, interpersonal skills include communication skills, conflict resolution skills, negotiation, influence, team building, etc.
  2. Training: As a project manager, you might need to include a training budget for a project and future projects. Trainings can be classroom based, online, on-the-job training, etc. It is also advisable to pair-up an inexperienced project team member with someone more experienced so that the more experienced team member can provide guidance and mentorship.
  3. Team building activities: Teams usually go through team development stages. The popular model for team development is the Tuckman (1965) model. The stages are:
    1. Forming: Team meets and learns about individual responsibilities. The team is usually independent at this stage.
    2. Storming: Team starts trying to work together. Many conflicts arise in this phase.
    3. Norming: Team begins to find a rhythm to work together. Team members begin to place team interests above individual interests and learn to trust each other.
    4. Performing: Team becomes interdependent and work effectively.
    5. Adjourning: Team completes the work and moves on from the project. This is usually a part of the close project process (which would be discussed in more detail when we explore project integration management).
  4. Ground rules: This is useful to ensure that the team has an understanding of the expectations required from them.
  5. Colocation: This is also called tight matrix. It involves bringing the project team together in a specific location (called a “war room”) in order to increase enhance communication and a sense of belonging.

Other tools and techniques of the develop project team process include rewards, recognition and personnel assessment tools.

The major output of the develop project team is the team performance assessments.

Manage Project Team

The manage project team process involves tracking team member performance, providing feedback, resolving issues, and managing team changes to optimize project performance. The inputs to this process include the human resource plan, staff assignments, team performance assessments, issue logs and work performance reports.

The tools and techniques for the manage project team process include:

  1. Observation and conversation: This is the easiest way to keep abreast of what is going on with the team members.
  2. Project performance appraisals: This can be formal or informal. They are used to clarify issues and provide feedback to the team members. Performance appraisals are also used as a reference point for future training needs and targets for team members.
  3. Conflict resolution: This is one of the most important skills a project manager should possess. There are various conflict resolution approaches. Some of them include:
    1. Withdrawal or Avoidance: This involves postponing the issue so that it can be resolved later or by someone else.
    2. Smoothing or Accommodation: This involves emphasizing areas of agreement more than areas of disagreement in a conflict situation. This usually results in a temporary feeling of resolution among the parties involved.
    3. Compromise or Reconciliation: This involves settling for a solution that brings a degree of satisfaction to all the parties involved.
    4. Forcing or Directing: This is a win-lose situation in which one party’s solution is forced over the other party’s viewpoint. This is usually enforced from a position of power or in an emergency.
    5. Collaborate or Problem Solving: This involves integrating multiple viewpoints in order to reach a common consensus.

    The kind of conflict resolution chosen by a project manager depends on the unique attributes of the project and the nature of the conflict.

  4. Interpersonal skills: In managing the project team, a project manager must cultivate interpersonal skills such as leadership, influencing and effective decision making.

The major output of the manage project team process are change requests (usually staffing changes). Other outputs include updates to the project management plan and project documents. In some cases, there might be updates to the organizational process and the enterprise environmental factors.

There you have it, the four processes that form the project human resource management knowledge area. As usual, we have a summary diagram of the processes from the PMBOK shown below:

Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to drop your thoughts and questions in the comments section. In our next article in this series, we will explore project human resource management. See you soon!

References and Further reading

  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide. Project Management Institute.

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