Proper resource planning is critical, the right project staffing with the right skills will greatly improve IT project success. Yet inadequate and/or improperly allocated resources is one of the ten most common contributors to project failure. Not having the right people on the project can kill it. “The key to getting a project successfully accomplished is getting the right people with the right skills,” says Joel Koppelman, CEO of Primavera
All the planning in the world won’t overcome the lack of talented project members.
I found that an under-manned project team and/or under-trained project members do not have the ability to assess the risks or determine ways to mitigate or eliminate the risk. These shortcomings usually results in mistakes stacked upon mistakes. Poor resourcing can be fatal, but it can also be avoided.
When resource planning for a project, you need clear visibility into the skills and workloads of all potential team members, including internal staff, consultants, contractors and outsourcers. Unfortunately, many times the skills of external resources are left out of being assessed even though they may end up doing a significant proportion of the project work. This will result in a poor project resource allocation and will negatively impact the IT project’s successful delivery.
Assigning the “right” resource for the project will help ensure a successful outcome.
Resource allocation is more of an art than a science. There’s no easy answer to the resource allocation question. I’ve worked with several corporations (clients) with all kinds of different organizational models designed to answer the IT resource allocation challenge. Some structures work better than others, but I’ve never seen anything that works really well because IT projects require a number of specialized skills:
- Business Analyst
To deliver an IT project successfully, you need to understand the distinct phases of the project along with the respective skills and activity requirements. Staffing each of the above areas with an expert is a common method of staffing an IT project. Unfortunately, this will result in a “large” project team, making communication more complex and as a result productivity will suffer. The “flat” staffing profile is popular and is easy to understand, but it is prone to the following pitfalls:
- Overstaffing in the early and late stages of the project, there will be people standing around with nothing to do.
- Understaffing in the middle stages, not having enough people available to perform all the defined tasks.
So, what can you do to improve your IT Project resource planning for success?
While project resource allocation is a challenge, there are some simple things you can do to minimize the effect of project resourcing. Depending on where you are in the project life cycle you can:
- Identify the required expertise areas
- Find the least number of people to cover all the required areas
- Add a specialist only if you need more firepower in a specific area
- Shift available resources from less critical tasks to near-critical tasks. This strategy pays off in the long run as the near-critical tasks become critical.
- Shift all available resources to tasks on your critical path. This is a desperation move for short term relief.
Build the project team using generalists, only add specialists if needed.
The most effective thing you can do to mitigate staffing challenges, is to plan for it to occur before your project starts. Have a Plan B to cover the possibility of lack of resources. Do not utilize any resource more than 80% of available time in your plan. In doing so, you will be well positioned to table a successful IT resource plan.
In my previous blog, I wrote about the importance of project time lines as it relates to IT project planning for success. In my upcoming blog, I will address the importance of Incomplete or Changing Requirements.