Many of today’s most successful CIOs manage day-to-day technological complexities well but are still thwarted by resource management and capacity planning. Making the best use of limited people resources and focusing them on work that matters is crucial to any company’s success. However, without an integrated outlook on the organization’s real-time capacity and demand prioritization, CIOs and their management staff will never have a clear outlook on how to effectively tackle their projects.
I see this all the time – every employee may be up to their eyeballs in projects, but at the end of the day, management isn’t sure what exactly is being accomplished or whether the staff is focusing on accomplishing activities with the highest ROI. On top of everything else, what happens when the unexpected occurs? Every day, unforeseen emergencies and developments strain organizations’ already overburdened resources. Occasionally, in the midst of this chaos, some people may become overbooked, while others are not being used to their full potential.
How can CIOs manage these common problems? They must focus on four distinct areas synergistically. These areas, which project portfolio management can help address, make up a framework I call The Capacity Quadrant. They are:
Before attempting to maximize resources or gain accuracy around staffing, it is first important to start with a good foundation – broad visibility into the work that’s consuming resources and the variables that are making them operate inefficiently. This includes improving visibility across three lenses: the demand lens (including strategic projects, regular projects, services, and other planned work), the capacity lens (i.e., resource calendars minus vacations, holidays, and any unplanned work that can be estimated on a standard percentage basis), and the system lens (i.e., using a systems thinking approach to identify the many variables that can impact resource workload, efficiency, and productivity).
Albert Einstein said, “Confusion of goals and perfection of means seems, in my opinion, to characterize our age.” He could very well have been talking about most organizations today. Prioritization is a vital piece of the resource management puzzle. Without it, valuable resource time is wasted on efforts that bring little or no value, or are not working toward the proper organizational strategy.
Here CIOs and other IT leaders can maximize their resources by focusing them on the most critical work; limiting the volume of primary demand objectives; tightening the resources on secondary objectives; and addressing efficiency issues identified during the whole system analysis (as part of the visibility component). During this phase, alternate staffing strategies can be assessed as well.
Once organizations have good visibility into resources, a sense of priority, and have optimized existing resources, they then must deal with the everyday realities and operations of resource management. Like all planning, demand and capacity planning is not a one-time activity. As a result, integration is where organizations tend to struggle the most – finding an effective and efficient system of resource planning that keeps everything aligned in a complex and dynamic environment.
All of these areas are extremely critical. An effective PPM (News - Alert) system can facilitate success in all four components. Within this framework, basic PPM functions such as resource management, strategic planning, capacity planning, project management, and demand intake mesh together to properly and efficiently align the organization, especially when there are unexpected bumps in the road.
Small organizations or individual projects may not require full-fledged PPM software. Some of these groups can benefit from a project collaboration solution. And though software can’t compare to proper management and communication, when it comes to the complexities CIOs encounter in today’s enterprise level environments, taking this integrated approach and relying on a PPM software solution can mean the difference between success and failure.
Jerry Manas, the author of “The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook”, is senior editor for Planview (www.planview.com).
Edited by Maurice Nagle