Uncovering Your Latent Resource Capacity

‘Ware the resource hoarders in your organization.  You’ll know them because they’re the ones who refuse to provide detailed task estimates for their projects.  When pressed for details on their resource plans, they’re like as not to produce an Excel chart that shows the resource allocated evenly for 32.75 hours across the length of the project.

If you see a spike in a given week, you might ask something like “What are they doing in March?”…only to be told that they’ll be working on “Release stuff.”

“Great,” you say, “Where’s the schedule that shows when the release will occur so we know if that spike in resource demand will move out if the release moves?”

And the hoarder responds with, “Well, we’re not getting that detailed with our planning.”

The issue here is that the hoarder has been given resources by the organization.  “You will have X resources for 6 months,” the organization declares.  The response, logically, is to ensure that, on paper at least, we will use those resources.

The problem is several fold here:

  1. Resource hoarding becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If I commit to a resource for 40 hours a week, and I don’t plan what that resource will work on…..I end up filling that resource’s time with make work and inanities.  Mind you, I’m not saying that committing to an FTE is bad….I’m just saying that it needs to be justified.  (And yes, I would consider a formal Agile methodology to be justification enough, as, when implemented properly, that methodology puts in place the controls required to ensure the resource is working on real work.)
  2. The hoarders are never pressured to link their resource plans to the actual schedule – meaning that changes to the schedule don’t connect to the resource plan.  As a result, resources may not be available when the project needs them – or worse, they have extra capacity that could be otherwise used while they wait for a delayed deliverable to appear in the queue.

The thing is, in organizations that tolerate and/or encourage resource hoarding, you’ll have all sorts of latent resource capacity sitting under the radar.  That capacity represents a tremendous opportunity cost in the work that is not getting done – because the resource is dedicated to a project that may not be really using them.  Start prying into resource visibility, and you’ll be shocked at how much excess capacity scurries out from under a rock.

Uncovering Your Latent Resource Capacity

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