This post is the second in McLaughlin & McLaughlins Project Professionals Blog series of discussions regarding current challenges being encountered in today’s efforts/environment associated with the human resource aspects of your project management team.  More specifically, we have titled the series STAFFING YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEAM, and we intend to focus heavily on the managerial aspects of human resource planning and acquisition.  This post focuses on planning the human resources or staffing.  In many respects, the planning is the most important activity or action in the process.  Proper and timely planning including documenting the plan will provide the roadmap for the path to success.  It will also tend to reveal problems and challenges before they become a problem.

In order to present this topic in a logical manner and with an industry-recognized lexicon, we are using the PMI Project Management Processes for a Project as presented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

Sources that are used in this post are:

Please Remember People [not machines and not software] build projects.

The planning process in general and the human resource management process in particular, tend to be problematic.  Many teams and organizations struggle with how to perform the planning and implementation.  In this regard, the order or sequence of planning is quite important.  A proper sequence creates efficiency and avoids costly and time-consuming rework as well as delays in performance/completion.

The planning process differs for differing organizations and types of projects.  PMBOK® provides guidance regarding the generic planning and management process (PMBOK, CHAPTER 9).  This can be adapted to the organizational structure and project specifics.

This PMBOK® process is structured around the following:

  • Inputs – activity resource requirements, enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets”
  • Tools and Techniques – organization charts and position descriptions, networking and organizational theory”
  • Output – Human Resource Plan”

Inputs – Basically, one needs the activities/tasks (generally from the plan and schedule) along with the resource requirements.  Often, the resource requirements are not obvious and need to be developed through the subsequent process.  The enterprise environmental factors include both internal and external.  One must fully factor in the marketplace conditions.  The availability (or non-availability) of human resources in the marketplace will greatly influence many aspects of the plan.  Certainly, acquisition of external resources must be tempered and influenced by the relevant marketplace.  This is one of the most challenging aspects of planning related to large and complex projects.  We will develop this issue in later posts.

Tools and Techniques – For smaller and simple projects, start with organization charts and available position descriptions.  For larger and more complex projects, start with a general organization chart; but mainly with the activities from the plan and schedule (Work Breakdown Structure – WBS) and a matrix-based chart.  M&M has found that a RACI (responsible, accountable, consult and inform) chart is best.  Build the organization (or Organizational Breakdown Structure – OBS) from completing the RACI.  Include resource estimates (man-days, person-days) and durations.  Then update the master plan/schedule by resource loading these human resource requirements (including acquisition timing and durations).

Output – The Human Resource Plan should contain (see PMBOK®):

  • “Staffing Management Plan – Staff acquisition, Resource calendars (histogram is useful), and Staffing release plan
  • “Project Organization Charts”
  • “Roles and Responsibilities – Role, Authority, Responsibility and Competency”

Kerzner addresses the subject in (among other places) Chapter 4 ORGANIZING AND STAFFING THE PROJECT OFFICE AND TEAM. Several of his key topics are:

  • “4.7 Duties and Job Description”
  • “4.8 The Organizational Staffing Process”
  • “4.10 The Functional Team”
  • “4.11 The Project Organizational Chart”
  • “4.13 Selecting the Project Management Implementation Team”

The following advice is repeated from prior posts since the advice is extremely important. When performing planning and developing the Project Management Plan, expert judgment is often utilized.  PMBOK® lists the following areas for application of project planning expertise, which would include preparation of the Human Resource Plan (a portion of the Project Management Plan):

  • “Tailor the process to meet the project needs,”
  • “Develop technical and management details to be included in the Project Management Plan,”
  • “Determine resources and skill levels needed to perform project work,”
  • “Define the level of configuration management to apply on the project, and”
  • “Determine which project documents will be subject to the formal change control process.”

In the next post, we will address issues, problems and solutions often encountered in acquiring the resources for your Project Management Team.

The experience of McLaughlin and McLaughlin includes the planning and resourcing of many large and complex projects.  Within these projects, M&M has found that time, patience, thought and consensus-building during the project planning is essential and invaluable relative to project success potential.  Further, M&M experience is that lack of robust Human Resource Plan can seriously degrade the project success potential.

Good luck and let us all approach the managerial challenge of staffing our Project Management Team with key knowledge, tools and lessons learned that are available.  Setting a solid planning foundation is essential and has long term (project duration) benefits.  M&M wishes you happy reading and good luck in your project management challenges and endeavors.

It is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice.  M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support.  The Resource Center is for the convenience of blog visitors and M&M does not offer this for commercial purposes.  For further information on M&M services, please see