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In project management, How might you adjust the project if you don’t have resources when you need them?

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From a more practical point of view:

  • You have to communicate with the sponsor/steering group that you don't have the necessary resources to continue working.
  • Look at your plan (especially the critical path) and try to re-prioritize items: can you start working on something else?

If the project is underway, write a change request and/or put it in your next status report. Make sure the message gets through to all the stakeholders, and that you have it in writing.

Chances are you it will come back and bite you if you don't raise the issue promptly.

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In project management, there is a magic triangle of time, cost and scope that influence each other. If you are running out of costs (resources) you can reduce scope (eleiminate features) or increase the time.

Sometimes a 4th dimension, "quality", is added to that triangle.

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Apart from the time / cost / scope triangle that k3b refers to, you may be able to re-plan to deliver something outside the sequence that you had planned, using whatever resources you do have available. For example, your plan may say that you should be creating a database design first, then building the database before developing the necessary front-end screens. If you don't have a database administrator (DBA) available, can you still make some progress on the screens?

Assuming that you have at least some resources available, ask them what is the "art of the possible". They may be able to come up with innovative options to make progress - and if they are multi-skilled, perhaps they can make progress even in the absence of some of the resources that you thought you needed. Just be prepared to deal with the situation if someone else feels that their role is being taken away from them.

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In any complex project, you have both hard and soft predecessor-successor logic that created your initial network diagram. In fact, soft logic likely prevails over hard in terms of what governs the sequence of project work, but even if it does not, you have a ton of sequencing with which you can play based on available resources.

Hard logic contains those packages that must go in a certain order, e.g., you cannot paint the wall until after you sanded and taped the drywall, which you cannot do until after you have hung the drywall. Soft logic contains those packages that can go in whatever order but you placed them in a sequence due to other business needs or simply because you chose one over the other.

And like Magnus wrote, look first on your critical path since changes there will alter your finish date immediately. It will create a new critical path so you have to make sure you didn't buy greater risk as an unintended consequence.

And before you go off and change your schedule, make certain that your unavailable resources are actually causing unacceptable adverse effects on your schedule delivery. If the late resources are causing a late start on a package NOT on your critical path, or even on your critical path but not to a degree that exceeds your variance threshold, I'd leave it alone. Your schedule is in constant flux, where late starts and early starts are constantly occurring and your critical path is constantly changing. There is an acceptable level of variance that can and should be ALLOWED to occur before you go off and make some serious changes. Changing your schedule will have benefits, but it will also have its costs, penalties, and risks, some of which may be blind to you until it smacks you. Further, making a change may exacerbate other random variables that are affecting your schedule, making things worse. So analyze this carefully.

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This is a quite common problem PM's face.

1) See if there are other available resources that can help by reaching out to the functional managers that manage the software/component development 2) If the resource that is not available is responsible for any critical path items that are going to impact the other components of the project, ensure that you highlight this situation to the PMO or your direct line of management to ensure they are aware of a possibility of slippage if alternate resources are not found in time

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