A common issue for delays on projects is not enough resources. Resource balancing is of course the very subject of AbleSims first simulation.
Several recent occurrences cause me to comment on this fact, however before we start, let’s consider resources from a general point of view, before thinking how this affects projects.
What are Project Resources?
Resources can consist of People, Materials, and Equipment. With enough money you can buy Materials, and/or Equipment, however People cannot be bought so easily (although contracting for generic skills is common, but can be expensive, and what can you do for highly skilled and scarce skill sets?).
Why are resources so often a problem? Consider that you set up your own company, and that you took all of the profits. Would you want your resources working at 120%? – always having something to do, or at 80%? – with your staff often sitting around and waiting for the next piece of work to arrive. Clearly, if you took the profits, you would organise more work for your resources than you could actually deliver, and as long as you recognise that all the work can’t be delivered, then everybody will be happy. (Do companies recognise this fact? – I think not!)
Many companies set up their people resources to be 80% of their peak loading, and use a group of regular and well known contractors, who they have agreements with, to resource their peak loading periods. Peaks may be seasonal, or when a large project commences development or implementation phases.
Issues can arise where companies put undue stress on their staff by loading them at 150%, or 200%, or even more. Staff get frustrated, tired, mistakes are made, and they can look for alternative employments!
Recruiting new Project Resources
Another problem with people resources, is that they can take a long time to recruit, and train, and to become productive. As an example, if somebody resigns their employment, decisions have to be made about recruiting, adverts placed, interviews held, periods of notice worked etc., and all of this can take many weeks or several months. At the end of this period the new employee arrives, carefully selected from interviews, but with no knowledge of the company’s policies, procedures, working practices, or staff. Another few weeks or months are required for the new employee to become truly productive.
This combination of ‘planning to have too few resources’, and ‘the time it takes to get additional skilled resources working effectively’ on a project can lead to the project functionality (quality) suffering, and the project timescale becoming delayed.
So why are resource issues in my mind? Well I’ve been working as a contractor for an organisation that is short of the correct resources to deliver a particular project. The project concerns the reversal of policies to use contractors to deliver the main aspects of their work, and to bring everybody back “in-house”. This is a main strategic policy decision to resource the regular work 100% from in-house sources rather than operate a “contracted-out” business model. This contracting work has in turn prevented me from running my own business properly (my last blog article was six weeks ago on September 27th!).
People resources are not easily replaced or sourced for any project. Resourcing an organisation to the correct level is an important strategic decision, with impacts on the quality and timeframe for the project delivery.
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