Top 4 Tips for Managing Resource Allocation

The Problem

Let’s face it our business partners have to deliver more and more competitive products and services and in this day and age most of their initiatives require a technology effort to be successful.  The CIO and his/her management team need to field these requests and figure out how to implement them  without the ability to expand their delivery teams.  The pace of business moves too fast these days to have requests come in from email, untethered requests made directly to technology teams, or conversations in the hallway.

One of the first steps in tacking this problem is to setup a standardized method for how these requests are submitted.  This method should include a standardized method of submission, prioritization and approval..  The methodology for prioritization and ranking these initiatives must be standardized across the organization.  Without a standardized prioritization method the CIO is left to the mercy of defending prioritization decisions and trying to pacify dissatisfied business sponsors.

With this method in place the management team can use the prioritized request inventory to put together a schedule and resource allocation plan.  It is important to not just understand the effort required to implement the specific projects, but also the efforts required to support it after go live, effort required for standard operations, as well as non-working time  (vacation, holidays, jury duty, etc.) . This is where the concept of organizational resource allocation comes in.

The Tips

Consider the following tips when coordinating your organization enterprise wide resource allocations:

1. Start performing analysis and planning ASAP

Waiting until the organization’s project portfolio is out of control is a recipe for disaster.  Plan early and often.  It is inevitable that you will have ad-hoc requests throughout the year.  This is the way business works, and no matter what policies and procedures you put in place “the business needs what the business needs”.  By planning your resource allocation baseline early you will be better equipped to handle impromptu requests as they come in.  Like a baseline project plan, if you have your initial plan it is easier to have a conversation of “we are doing these 50 initiatives this year, we are doing these 10 projects for your organization, let’s talk about what we can adjust to make this new initiative possible”. Remember the goal is to not always say “No”, the goal is to implement the right projects and work with your business sponsors to adjust as business needs change.

2. Don’t get tunnel vision with project work

Another classic pitfall is to estimate your projects based upon the illusion that the project team will have nothing else on their plate. 

Classic Resource Planning
The project is estimated at 8320 hours of effort.  I will put 4 people on it for 12 months. – DONE.

Did you fail to consider that these resources take vacation, get sick, and are expected to spend 10% of their time supporting another system?

3. Distractions and Diversions

The project request system, resource allocation system, and support systems cannot exist in independent silos.  Consider a perfectly aligned project request list, with a perfect resource allocation plan.  EXCELLENT!  But what about support requests and other maintenance tasks?  In many organizations the project implementation teams and the second level support people come from a shared resource pool.  Your resource plan needs to include and reflect other demands placed on your team members.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking “the support work is minimal; they will just get it done”.  This does not work.

4. Track resource time

We now have a plan.  How are we doing against the plan?  Do we spend more or less time on support requests than we planned?  Do we under or overestimate the effort required to implement our projects? Am I consistently working my staff in 60 hour weeks?  If you don’t know the answers to these questions you have not solved the problem.

Tracking the staff’s effort on various initiatives is not just important to understand how hard your staff is working and if you have enough staff.  It is a critical input to your next planning session.  Understanding the accuracy of your resource estimates will enable better insight for future planning.

In Conclusion

The delivery organization needs to demonstrate that it is supporting the organization’s business goals and objectives.  Putting in place a solid request system, prioritizing requests using a standardized scoring system, and implementing requests with a solid resource allocation plan will go a long way to making your business teams feel like they are partners in the process rather than being the recipient of excuses.

Resource time tracking and analysis will enable senior management to learn from mistakes and make more accurate plans over the long haul.

Level 5 Partners offers mentoring and guidance to help organizations achieve these results. In addition we offer the vPMO, a completely integrated web based solution that can be used to implement the processes discussed in this blog entry.  Please be sure to check it out: Virtual Program Management Office (vPMO)

We love sharing our knowledge and information about our offerings.  If you find the vPMO interesting, contact us for a free no obligation demonstration.

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