Effective Human Resource Planning within an Information Technology Organisation - Cranefield College

Effective Human Resource Planning within an Information Technology Organisation

Author: Mpolokeng, Andrew
Supervisor: Professor P D Gerber
Date: September 2010

The Project Services (PS) Division within Business Connexion (BCX) is primarily responsible for ensuring that the different business units are supplied with skilled project management resources when implementing information communication and technology (ICT) solutions. Project management services can either be sold as a stand-alone service or bundled with the organisation’s various ICT solutions.

Not all business units are aware of the tactical importance of applying a project and programme management approach and usually only call upon PS when their projects run into trouble. Realising the success that is being achieved by those who conform to project management principles has increased the demand for competent project management resources. The new challenge that line management is now faced with is how to plan effectively for project management human resource demand in order to facilitate the successful supply and execution of projects and programmes.

The key research objectives of the dissertation are as follows:

  • The acquisition and development of project management resources capacity to ensure retention and optimal use of project management skills;
  • Monitoring the capacity of project management human resources;
  • Undertaking activities to make the most efficient use of existing human resources capacity;
  • Understanding the demands currently being made for project management human resources and producing forecasts for future requirements;
  • Influencing the demand for human resources, perhaps in conjunction with account and sales executives.

The research for this dissertation can be classified as applied research. The research was conducted in the ‘social world” and is theoretical in nature. The survey questionnaire is comprised of 25 closed-ended questions, which were directed at BCX management personnel to collect quantitative and qualitative data. A total of 185 questionnaires were sent out, 148 were completed and 125 were used to conduct the research study.

The research study found that human resource (HR) capacity planning can contribute positively to the formulation of the business strategy by pointing out how HR constraints may affect the implementation of proposed projects and programmes. These constraints include skills shortages, lack of training and development, rapid changes in technology, legislative policies affecting HR, finances, and the absence of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool that can assist in streamlining the staff acquisition process.

There was little variance between the groups that responded to the survey. The researcher believes that this is a positive result for BCX, since little change management will be required to find commonality among the various management levels and business units.

There is currently no means of determining future supply and demand for project management human resources. Recruitment is primarily driven by demand, which further brings about the need for medium to long term planning. The study finds that management is rather reactive in its HR acquisition decision-making process, focusing on the now and very little on future business needs. This does not mean that the respondents are not aware that knowing ones current demand is critical for future planning.

The study also found that there is a fairly high level of maturity when it comes to management’s compliance to policy, processes and procedures.

The opinions expressed in the study highlight the question of whether it is more cost effective to recruit the required human capacity when required than to train and develop existing personnel. This is a contentious issue depending on which area of the business is being examined. Clients generally require competent project management skills at short turnaround times and will go to whoever can fulfil their need speedily. Line management is constantly required to keep cost at a minimum, thus complicating investment decisions.

Profiling new candidates and existing project management staff is one way of overcoming the current constraint. BCX staff members must be profiled to establish relevant knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, skills, experience and networking. This can be achieved using a combination of online questionnaires, written work and face-to-face interviews. Once profiling is complete, the development strategy for the PS division staff can be established. This generally includes:

  • Personal development paths for PS divisional staff, based on the overall staff profile and the desired end project management type, which are to be agreed with the individuals concerned in personalised development interviews.
  • Profiles and numbers of staff that should be brought into the PS division to assist in the delivery of new projects and programmes.
  • Communications and stakeholder management plans to ensure that all stakeholders are able to take advantage of revised capability and capacity.
  • The personnel information must be kept current on an online central HR management system. Line management must have access to the system via a secure username and password authentication process to keep the staff profile information as current and relevant as possible. This will further fast track and streamline the staff acquisition process.