Financial advisors recommend holding a certain percentage of stocks vs. bonds based upon where you are in your financial life. If you are in your mid-20s and just starting out in your career, they may recommend an 80/20 split favoring stocks. Closer to retirement? Perhaps a 50/50 split is more prudent to conserve your hard-earned investments.
The problem with these ratios is that the moment you invest in a portfolio daily market fluctuations cause them to go up and down. That’s why advisors often recommend rebalancing portfolios from time to time. It’s like pushing the reset button and getting the ratios back to where they started.
A similar thing happens with people on your project(s). Resource allocation percentages look great on paper. One person is going to spend 70% of their time on operations work and 30% on project work. Or, you allocate that they spend 40% of their time on one project, 35% on another, and 25% on a third. But, things change the moment paper meets reality.
An operations emergency causes the person to spend 85% of their time on operations work, causing the time spent on project work to be cut in half. Or, one project may be behind and requires everyone’s 100% commitment to catch up. The other two projects suffer.
This is why resource portfolios need to be rebalanced from time to time. The following steps identify what your team is working on, where they are overloaded, who has room, and how you can move work around.
- List your team members - Create a table and list your team members across the top.
- List their responsibilities - List the major projects, operations work, and deliverables they are responsible for, along with an average of how much time is spent on each. This can be in hours or percentages. Some may be over 100% and some may be under 100%. That’s fine. Capture what is really happening.
- Critically review the responsibilities - Look at each item listed and ask yourself these three questions, in this order: 1) Can something Stop? Be aggressive. Sometimes people are working on things that are no longer relevant or don’t bring value. Cross them off the list. 2) Should something Continue? This is mission critical work that must be done. Leave it on the list. 3) Does anything need to be Added? You may be aware of new work right around the corner. Go ahead and add it and how much time you think it will take.
- Reallocate responsibilities - Based upon skill sets, you can now move things around to other people to rebalance the load. Or, you may find that your existing resources don’t have the proper skills. This process will help you make a compelling argument for adding more people to the team.
Below is a simplified Before and After view of how this would work. Some projects were stopped, others moved around (Project 5 between Lisa and Scott) and a new one was added. Simple example, but it proves the point of why this is a good exercise to go through from time to time.
Couple of things to keep in mind. You don’t want to max people out at 100%. Allow time for meetings, vacations, personal time off, etc. A good rule of thumb is to leave 30% for that type of activity. 30% may seem high but do some quick math and you’ll realize when you add in the planned time off, unplanned time off and administrative time you get to 30% pretty quickly. And, if you want to get real fancy, you could use the Start, Stop, Continue method of KISS: Keep, Improve, Start, Stop. Finally, this is a good tool if someone on your team leaves and you need to figure out where their work is going to go.
Granted, there are sophisticated tools and algorithms to use for resource allocation. But this is a good process to quickly get your head around what your team is working on, and changes that can be made to deliver projects better.