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Topics: Leadership, Scheduling, Teams
Availability of project resources
Anonymous
I am new to an organization that is trying to determine how we can know if resources are available for projects so we don't overload people and have resources available to execute the projects. We are looking at all the upcoming projects for a year. There seem to be 3 considerations:

1. Corporate wide projects that are managed by a Project Manager.
2. Smaller single department projects that are managed by a Department Manager.
3. The person's normal work outside of any projects.

To me at least, it is basically impossible to know if someone, for example, will be overloaded with work 6 months from now unless we do extremely detailed planning for projects and non-project work so we know exactly what tasks a resource is doing, how long they take and when they will occur. Then all the people scheduling that resource would have to be sharing from the same resource calendar where PMs and Department Managers could assign specific tasks with specific times/dates to specific people.

I know that level of detail is what the PMBOK defines, but we are nowhere near that in planning project or routine work and I don't think many organizations are unless they are doing extremely time sensitive work like industrial outages.

The question is...Does anyone have any suggestions on how to know if resources will be overloaded without detailed information on exactly when and for how long a resource is needed for specific project and non-project tasks or is that impossible?

Thanks for any suggestions!
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The only way to get any predictability around staff availability is to reduce multitasking between different work streams. This will require a combination of reducing the volume of concurrent projects and cross-training/upskilling so that you are increasing bench strength.

A good book to read on the subject is Tame Your Work Flow by Steve Tendon and Daniel Doiron - they combine lean flow concepts with Dr. Goldratt's Theory of Constraints.

Kiron
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1 reply by anonymous
Jan 21, 2021 1:01 PM
anonymous
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Thank you very much for the response, I will look into that book!
Anonymous
Jan 21, 2021 12:49 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
The only way to get any predictability around staff availability is to reduce multitasking between different work streams. This will require a combination of reducing the volume of concurrent projects and cross-training/upskilling so that you are increasing bench strength.

A good book to read on the subject is Tame Your Work Flow by Steve Tendon and Daniel Doiron - they combine lean flow concepts with Dr. Goldratt's Theory of Constraints.

Kiron
Thank you very much for the response, I will look into that book!
I have seen various efforts to do this in large organizations with varying degrees of success. You can plan all you want, but as soon as something unexpected happens, all the plans are thrown into disarray. It's the same sort of situation that agile approaches are meant to address.

Effective approaches look at the issue from various levels and perspectives. For planned work, the scheduled work statement can be compared to the business plan. That doesn't tell you about specific crucial skills however.

For certain skills or individuals, you may need a resource calendar to know when key people are working specific projects. If you try that with everyone, it doesn't work for long.

To address the many skills working many projects, approaches such as using Obeya boards might help. At the group level, individuals discuss both their near term work, and longer term activities that may be on hold or at a low level of effort. Those discussions roll up from the team level through the management chain. At each level, the discussion focuses on the highest priorities. These discussions include current workload, upcoming near-term workload, and the long term perspective.

That planning will change routinely, so it turns into agile business management.
Keith made a good point regarding Obeya boards: Here is the link to a video that shows you what Obeya is and how this critical element of visual management works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApbBW9h5Ko0.

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