Imagine that a project has failed due to processes not being followed, which in turn, was due to under-resourcing and a shortage of experienced personnel.

What are some examples of specific kinds of analysis or planning which, if performed at the outset of the project, could have alerted the management team to the shortage in resources?

4 Answers 4


I would immediately challenge your conclusion that "processes were not followed" due to resource limitations in either numbers or expertise. It does not require numbers or expertise to follow a process. It requires rules, discipline, and leadership / management.

But to answer your question, risk management is the process and analytical tool to understand and do something about your estimates and human resources threats.

The term shortage of resources implies there is a number of staff at which the task is perfectly sized--that is, one less and the task has a shortage issue. In fact, there is a range of resources--or cost and schedule--that more represents the degree of risk and likelihood of success. Unfortunately, during estimation, we too often use a deterministic approach--a single point--to estimate. That is, we look at a task and say it will take six people. The true estimate, however, might be four to nine people and six may represent the 40th percentile or so. Understanding the true non deterministic estimate is the key to understanding your risk. This will allow you to derive mitigating strategies, such as strong process control :), to maximize your chances and to put away some contingent funds to bring in additional folks if you need it. This, by the way, is an organic project risk.

Risk management is also the tool with which you understand your discrete human resource risks. Humans are terribly unreliable and suffer from severe performance variation. Further, while your target might be six resources but you can find only four, or you find six but skill sets with a proven record are unavailable or you cannot afford them. Tons of scenarios but here again, risk management will allow you to identify what these threats are and what to do about them.


After some further reading, it seems that Activity Resource Estimating would serve this purpose.

Activity resource estimating is a process in which the project team carefully compiles a thorough listing of the resources that will be needed in completing a project.

(Source: http://project-management-knowledge.com/definitions/a/activity-resource-estimating/)


For any project, human resource brings various risk to the project. A resource, who is very experienced and can be a key resource can split or refused to give his/her % to the project due to various reasons like internal disputes, health factor, natural desistor. Perhaps, these factor should be mentioned in the Risk Management plan and so does it's mitigation too. In real life example, I have found few average resources performed extremly well in certain project due to time management, task management, motivation factors, recognization etc. which makes the job for the manager difficult to estimate the resource capabilities.

There are various methodology followed to keep track for resource estimation, like if you have prepared a nice WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) with 100% rule you can come up with resource estimation and divide the task based on their experience. The primary tool for resource estimation is expert judgement other things to rely on is hard copy data, past experience. In brief, estimation can never be easy if the scope is not baseline.


Rather than prescribe a fixed process, perhaps blend it with something more practical.

Let the team work on the project for some small proportion of the time available. Encourage them to attack the riskiest bits first - the bits where they know least, or where you or the product manager can envisage risk. Try to find the unanswered questions, and the ones you didn't even know you had to ask.

Then ask the team whether they have everything they need to succeed, and what they would like to have if they could.

You'll need to create a safe, transparent environment in which they can do this. If they're collaborating to meet a vision that they all understand, and they feel safe voicing their opinion, they'll tell you if they're short of skills, resources or experience anyway.

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