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How to Deal with Pre-assigned Project Resources

A project manager can’t always get the resources they want. But if they try some sometimes, they just might find they get what they need. Before throwing up your hands, before looking for new job prospects, Project Risk Coach blogger Harry Hall recommends trying these four strategies to rope in those project resources.

Roping in the Resources

  1. Negotiate.
  2. Influence.
  3. Acquire outside resources.
  4. Develop your teams.

The process might start like Kübler-Ross’s seven stages of grief, but here, we’re skipping denial (you’ve admitted that you’re short-staffed / supplied / funded) and jumping straight to negotiation. You’ll want to locate whoever is in charge of allocating resources and go knocking on their door. Don’t go straight for the jugular (your project needs). Instead, talk about goals and requisite skills. Then make a recommendation for additional resources.

But perhaps there is no single source of power toward which the PM can direct their pleas for aid, or perhaps that source is once (twice, or three times) removed from the PM’s station. In that case, you’ll need to rely on what connections you do have to indirectly reach the appropriate person(s). If you’re lucky enough to be involved in a project early on, you’ll get a chance to survey the skills landscape and start to work for a more ideal set of resources from square one – in addition to manually improving skills and building team cohesion.

And speaking of team cohesion, the common PM experience always involves some degree of inadequacy, whether it’s in ‘skills’ or in the ‘group chemistry’ department. Think of managing a team as building a puzzle. The edge pieces are your basic skills framework. If that’s mostly intact, you can start to make the “easy connections” work. If the murky skills areas don’t all match up it’s not the end of the world, so long as the overall resource picture is clear and effective.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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