There are a lot of projects out there where the "project manager" and the "resource manager" are different people. It's not necessarily an impossible setup - but it does require that everyone be on the same page.
Generally the line that is drawn is that the project manager manages the resources and the resource manager manages the people. If the people aren't skilled enough, efficient enough or have work-performance problems - it falls on the resource manager to fix it. If there isn't enough man-power, computing resources, or other tools needed to do that job - the project manager figures out how to wrangle them.
That still splits the people - because "people hours" is a resource. But getting adequate and timely work hours from personnel is usually a conversation between a project manager and a resource manager.
Time for a Conversation
It sounds like you've hit the time when a meeting with the tester's resource manager is a good plan. I'd make sure the meeting includes:
- Confirm the resource manager's awareness of your project timeline
- Verify that resource manager is prepared for the resources allocated to be spending X number of hours per week testing your project.
- Make the resource manager aware of how many hours a week have actually been available so far, and why this is putting your project schedule at risk
You are likely to get 1 of 3 reactions:
"Wow! I didn't know that! They told me everything was fine - let's make a plan that gets you what you need, I know how important your project is!" Followed by some form of reasonable plan to make sure that the other priorities don't continue to trump your work.
"Well... you see... we have these other priorities we can't drop" which is the polite way of saying "this other work is more important than your work, so I'm going to continue to go the way we are going". At which point, it's time to return to your boss and say "there are no available resources for this project, the schedule will slip" and let bigger guns take over.
"My people can't do what you want them to" - either they don't have the skills or don't have the tools. At which point, it'll be up to you and the resource manager to work through this, but at least you can work together.
Keep People Engaged
Don't let the resource manager who does manage the people off the hook. Include them in your status reports. First status report after the conversation should be something like:
- I started these status reports to keep everyone aware of our progress.
- These are the key days
- This is our current status
- Current Risks - (big risk) slip in schedule from lack of availability of testers.
- mitigation: I really want to thank X resource manager - we worked through the problem and he's committed to do XYZ to get testers on board.
Further status reports cover the last 3 bullets and report on the recovery (or lack thereof) of the schedule.
While I favor conversations for fixing problems, status reports in written (email) form are much better for tracking accountability. No one can deny you sent it, you can copy many people, and they provide a documented record of the history. As such, they have more weight and when a status report shows a project going sour, people tend to take it more seriously (presuming you can get people to pay attention in the first place).