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How many projects do you run at a time?
I work in a small IT shop (20 FTE) and I'd like to know, on average, how many IT projects you have going on at one time? How many are concurrent? How many are part of a bigger program? Also, how much of your IT budget is spent on projects versus maintenance and operations?

We are growing quickly, do you know the answers to these questions for mid-sized shops?
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We have a team of 6 IT PMs and about 30 projects. It depends so much on the size of the projects. Some months we have a couple of people working full time on big things, sometimes everyone has multiple small things to manage. In my experience there isn't an average, it depends on what you class as a project and what sort of project work you do.


When you say IT projects do you mean software/web development, IT / IS hardware(+OS) projects, ETL or system improvement projects?

I a previous role managing IT, IS/Infrastructure, DB/Web Developers, and System Support, we were delivering over 60 IT project each year. I remember an assessment were the figures were approx:-

Development (team of 20) 60 Projects - 20%/week Bug fixing and In life support tasks and additional 15% lost in other non-project time (ignoring Hoidays).
IS/IT/Inf (Team of 3) 10 Projects - 40% suport/Maint tasks and 25% projects, 15% lost in other non-project time (ignoring Hoidays).
System Support (Team of 2) (Part of all projects above) - 20% deployment and configuraiton tasks, 50% Support/Maint tasks

We were a smallish ~150 people company growing at the time

Always allow for some project loss time, this can take the form of interuptions through to making a coffee, an efficient business can keep the loss time down but if your teams are constantly getting interuppted with queries and questions then that loss time increases.

Depending on how you are modelling it - allow for the Holidays and Sick loss time also e.g. in UK holidays normally leave 47 working weeks our of 52 weeks of the year + sick time as a %against the total personnel you have HR teams normally have this type of data

Hope this helps

I'm glad you brought up the maintenance and support issue. We have around 150 employees (approx 120 technical staff). However, the majority of our technical resources are available only about 10%-20% of their time on average for actual project work. The rest of their time is spent on maint/support work. Therefore, the number of projects that we can accomplish is significantly smaller than other organizations.

Amy, I work part of a portfolio management team. Instead of number of projects, I've found its more beneficial to think of this similar to what Peter said, which is estimating the average percentage of time available per resource type and then converting that into hours available. So, you might have 3400 hours of sys admin time available (2 FTEs x 1700 hours each). Out of this 3400 hours, only 750 hours are available for project work. (Hint: what are the projects being proposed and what do you want to fill those 750 hours with?)

Reframing your question in this fashion should provide you with more insight than comparing number of projects per dissimilar organizations.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

In our organization there are usually 70 to 80 concurrent projects across 15 to 20 PMs at any given time. Each PM will have anywhere from 3 to 5 projects at any time. I've had as many as 9 at once and as few as 2. Let's just say that my personal schedule has no slack time. Processes are designed so that there is little difference between new development or maintenance. If you look at a maintenance effort as a series of requirements then you can see how it can be accomplished.

This really depend on the size and complexity of the projects. In our company complex construction projects are run by a single dedicated project while few small and similar projects could be assigned to a project manager. A project manager can handle upto ten small projects in our organization

Size is definitely key. One place I worked a few years ago only registered things as projects if their budget was at least £60k. Smaller items were dealt with as deliveries using a simplified process. It seemed sensible, as their project governance processes for full projects were quite thorough & would be too expensive for a small item.

The answer more directly relates to the amount of change in the organization than to complexity or size of project(s).

In a mature, stable organization with well developed strategic alignment, the OPS side (run the business / lights on) could easily be 90% or more of the budget and resource allocation. In start-ups, younger organizations, and those making radical shifts in direction, business change (projects) could consume 50%, perhaps more.

Business need is the driver for concurrency and programs. IT strategically aligns to those needs. In the "real world," trade-offs are common. For example, maintenance (even though it may cost more in the future) may be deferred in order to focus resources on a critical project.

There are industry averages and best practices but they are specific to a business type and model. Industry and trade publications can usually provide that kind of information.

I concur with the posts suggesting separation of project time via operations time. Like many IT/project people in smaller operations, I spend 85% of my time on support and operational issues. At the same time our team of 6 FTE is also supposed to handle between 30-40 projects, all of which are scheduled as though we are available to work on ea. 100% of the time and then we get hit over the head when we do no meet our (executive management)mandated milestones.
Obviously we are at level 0 on the PM maturity model.

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