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Topics: Resource Management
Managing shared resources for BAU activities and Projects
Network:371



I am interested to know what tools/methods people are using to plan allocations and track results for resources that are shared across both BAU activities and projects. I am specifically talking about scenarios where resources are shared as opposed to being seconded 100% to a project from BAU.

What combination of tools methods are you using? How effective are these and what are the pros and cons?
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Network:1614



Mark -

No tool can compensate for the risks of unpredictable staff allocation to projects. A better strategy is to segregate the team (either permanently or on a per project basis) between BAU and project work so that one doesn't impact the other.

Kiron
...
1 reply by Mark Steward
Nov 01, 2018 7:51 PM
Mark Steward
...
Thanks, I agree, but sometimes that separation can be tricky to maintain. I was wondering if people had success with any particular tools that helped manage those blurred lines. I have used Power BI in the past to capture data from multiple systems to provide some insights into the visibility of resources across a portfolio.
Network:27241



One practical and easy approach is to specify the usage limit. for example, 30% of the time is devoted to the project. So you only use that portion of the resource. In this way, you practically do not need any specific method/tools for those type of shared resources.
Network:1895



I have more than 30 years in the field. It is hard for me to remember just one initiative where I had 100% people assigned to the initiative. So, for me is simple. I use the same process than any other type of initiative because I am not the owner of the initiative so, after creating a project schedule as the best practice said (basement in the ideal world) I present it to the owners of the initiative the result to start working with them just the "ideal world" can not become a reality.
Network:38



Some organizations use the same ticketing tool for project tasks as for operational tasks for shared resources. This ensures that all work shows up in the queue of the shared resource.

However, this does little to address prioritization: operational incidents will take precedence over BAU and project activities. As such, it is important to try to ring-fence pure operational resources from BAU resources. In practice, of course, there is no such ideal world and your operational experts are the ones who are needed for projects, but also for incident escalations.

Using a single activity tracking system does make it easier for the resources themselves to track what work is expected of them, even if it does not protect delivery dates.
Network:371



Oct 31, 2018 7:51 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Mark -

No tool can compensate for the risks of unpredictable staff allocation to projects. A better strategy is to segregate the team (either permanently or on a per project basis) between BAU and project work so that one doesn't impact the other.

Kiron
Thanks, I agree, but sometimes that separation can be tricky to maintain. I was wondering if people had success with any particular tools that helped manage those blurred lines. I have used Power BI in the past to capture data from multiple systems to provide some insights into the visibility of resources across a portfolio.
Network:902



That’s a good question. One pro for sharing resources is that the experts come both across daily incidents and project tasks, each require a bit different approach and knowledge, so by participating on both types of activities they are learning. It is useful to know what are common user issues when you work on a project that is supposed to bring some bigger improvements. Also by knowing of what incidents are happening in production, it helps to prevent some risks that may occur after implementation. So knowledge sharing, hands-on training.
But for cons it is clear, as I see other people mentioned here. Incidents have higher priority that projects so you lose you resources in a moment until the incident is solved. Some incidents take longer if detailed analyses is needed and the whole resource allocation becomes unpredictable.

To track it and analyse it is mostly up to the experts to report on what they were working. I have experience with in-house resource tracking systems only, kind of like smart spreadsheets. But to get good insight, do you expect people to report the real number of hours, to round it, to keep only maximum reported hours per day? This will all influence the insight on what’s really going on with your resources.so it’s important to consider company policy of over time, if there’s any internal billing system which may motivate people to primarily report certain type of hours, what other metrics are distilled from the resource allocation data, what is the clarity of definition of type of hours..
...
1 reply by Mark Steward
Nov 02, 2018 8:32 PM
Mark Steward
...
Thanks, Lenka. Great point about the learnings. It is trying to get a single resource view of project and operational activity, when often different systems are used, that I find can be the challenge. The law of diminishing returns comes into play to in terms of tracking who is working on what.
Network:371



Nov 01, 2018 8:23 PM
Replying to Lenka Pincot
...
That’s a good question. One pro for sharing resources is that the experts come both across daily incidents and project tasks, each require a bit different approach and knowledge, so by participating on both types of activities they are learning. It is useful to know what are common user issues when you work on a project that is supposed to bring some bigger improvements. Also by knowing of what incidents are happening in production, it helps to prevent some risks that may occur after implementation. So knowledge sharing, hands-on training.
But for cons it is clear, as I see other people mentioned here. Incidents have higher priority that projects so you lose you resources in a moment until the incident is solved. Some incidents take longer if detailed analyses is needed and the whole resource allocation becomes unpredictable.

To track it and analyse it is mostly up to the experts to report on what they were working. I have experience with in-house resource tracking systems only, kind of like smart spreadsheets. But to get good insight, do you expect people to report the real number of hours, to round it, to keep only maximum reported hours per day? This will all influence the insight on what’s really going on with your resources.so it’s important to consider company policy of over time, if there’s any internal billing system which may motivate people to primarily report certain type of hours, what other metrics are distilled from the resource allocation data, what is the clarity of definition of type of hours..
Thanks, Lenka. Great point about the learnings. It is trying to get a single resource view of project and operational activity, when often different systems are used, that I find can be the challenge. The law of diminishing returns comes into play to in terms of tracking who is working on what.
...
1 reply by Lenka Pincot
Nov 02, 2018 8:52 PM
Lenka Pincot
...
Well, trying to track who is working on what will only give you past and probably inaccurate information. To get it under control I would consider setting up rules and processes.
For instance if you have a project, allocate resources according to the estimates and keep them there because multitasking and switching between projects or operations has proven negative impact on productivity. For operations, categorize the incidents and maintain backlog, that you execute with Kanban board and WIP limits. WIP stands for work in progress. Practicaly that means that the experts work only on limited, preferably small, number of open incidents in a time. This has positive impact on their productivity. Prioritization is key, MOSCOW is a good method for that. For bigger issues consider launching small projects.
It’s just one way of doing things though but if you’re seeking to increase productivity, bring more transparency and achieve faster results I would go this or similar direction. And at the end even the reporting should have become easier.
Network:902



Nov 02, 2018 8:32 PM
Replying to Mark Steward
...
Thanks, Lenka. Great point about the learnings. It is trying to get a single resource view of project and operational activity, when often different systems are used, that I find can be the challenge. The law of diminishing returns comes into play to in terms of tracking who is working on what.
Well, trying to track who is working on what will only give you past and probably inaccurate information. To get it under control I would consider setting up rules and processes.
For instance if you have a project, allocate resources according to the estimates and keep them there because multitasking and switching between projects or operations has proven negative impact on productivity. For operations, categorize the incidents and maintain backlog, that you execute with Kanban board and WIP limits. WIP stands for work in progress. Practicaly that means that the experts work only on limited, preferably small, number of open incidents in a time. This has positive impact on their productivity. Prioritization is key, MOSCOW is a good method for that. For bigger issues consider launching small projects.
It’s just one way of doing things though but if you’re seeking to increase productivity, bring more transparency and achieve faster results I would go this or similar direction. And at the end even the reporting should have become easier.
Network:371



I think that capturing and analysing past information is important, as I was able to track the velocity of the multiple team's combined operational and project work. This showed that there was only enough capacity to deliver 20% of what was expected.

What was needed was a way to reduce the amount of committed work and find a better way to manage shared operational and project resource allocations, as it was not possible to completely separate the operational tasks from the project work tasks, due to the small pool of resources spread across multiple areas in the business.

Your idea of using Kanban boards and WIP limits sounds like a great solution to this problem. I think this approach would make it relatively easy for each team to implement and better manage both their operational and project tasks while at the same time providing management with better transparency of actual delivery capacity. Thank you Lenka, much appreciated.

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