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Resource Movement and Management

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The IT industry is growing—and that means more work for project managers. This is good news, but it also means teams need more people to complete the work.

While recruiting for new talent, project managers have to optimize existing team members as best they can. Some times people may be moved from one project to another, but such changes can make it hard to control the triple constraint of cost, quality and schedule.

Here are my observations on how so many moving parts can impact project delivery:

1. Long-running projects require more time for people to adjust. New team members need about six to eight months to understand the project and its processes.

2. Learning curves vary. An experienced newcomer can still take awhile to become 100 percent productive. Someone just starting out may take more than a year.

3. Getting the highest-quality team members may not be feasible because of the urgency, availability and cost involved. Leverage the strong resources you have.
 
4. Team leaders may have less time to devote to the project. Taking on new project members could force the team leader to focus on daily tracking, resolving team issues and client communication, and less time to work on the project.
 
5. Implement an induction plan. It can take three to four weeks to get a replacement for a team member who resigns or leaves the team. Teams can most effectively deploy new additions by following a regular induction plan to get them up to speed on the project and culture.
 
6. Be flexible. Some people may perform poorly because of the project's complexity, domain, technical knowledge or their interest level. However, that same team member might do well in a different project.
 
7. The estimate for completing a task always differs from the actual effort. This is more severe in long-running projects. The client expects us to have complete knowledge of the system, which is not always true because of internal movement among team members.

8. Teams can work smarter on projects on a fixed bid and when work approval comes in small modules. You can have multiple modules running parallel in different phases, but there will always be some idle time in between.

What do you say?

 

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6 Comments

Point#6 needs some more explanation because to be flexible does not mean that one should compromise on values or rules on the behalf of team members.

When a new person gets on board, not only is there a likely schedule impact, as already described by Sanjay, but there is also a clear cost impact : while the new person is ramping up, his/her time will cost to the project, and the necessary time and effort that other team members will spend to mentor him/her will also be additional cost.

These costs need to be taken into account by the Project Manager.

Antoine

Point No. 5 and 6 are really true and perfect. Induction will help in many ways. Point 6, yes, some team mates perform really well when they are put in different project. We have to find the exact talent of the team mates and match them with the project modules to utilize them better.

I am able to reflect back at what Sanjay has outlined in his article.
Managing teams across geographies to me in one of the most challenging role for a Project Manager as he has to control the triple constraint of cost, quality and schedule without disturbing the ecology of cultural, regional and emotional balance.

Thank you Sanjay for highlighting the problem areas of long term projects spread across geographies.

Regards,
Anirban Talukdar, PMP

What struck me about your post is the suggestion (and the very correct suggestion) that no-one can expect new talent to understand everything or really be at 100% capability in anything short of 6 months.

I can't think of the amount of times I've been placed on a project and expected to know the inside and outside of it within a few weeks - it can be so frustrating to not deliver what is expected of you simply because you aren't familiar with the work!

A great post, Sanjay, thanks!

Point #6 is an excellent one. Too often we discount someone's abilities completely simply because they don't perform well on a particular task or project. Taking the time to identify their true strengths and utilizing them accordingly is a win-win.

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