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Most organizations are faced with the continual collision of operational and project work that consumes finite human resources. Dedicated resources are the easiest to schedule as their schedules are a variant of a straight line. However, the majority of internal resources are already consumed to a greater or lesser degree in other operational work or projects. The challenge is how do you effectively schedule project outcomes when using non-dedicated internal resources when their availability is always in flux?

In an IT department/organization, there are a number of factors to consider when scheduling projects that use common operational resources as well as dedicated project resources. These include:

  • Staff working on help desk issues; incoming work is unpredictable but important as the help desk can take over the schedule and leave projects dangling and at risk.
  • Staff working on routine maintenance; day-to-day activities are often not factored into project schedules and should be.
  • Staff working on other projects; the same issues that are affecting your project are affecting every other project in the organization; it’s a cascading, all-pervasive issue.
  • The resource requirements of the project at hand; resource availability is changing all the time as a result of all the factors above.

There are very few, if any, scheduling applications that can help with the problem stated here but let’s pretend that there is one. We’re going to call it the TOOL and we’re going to breakdown what needs to go into and come out of the tool:

manage projects like a proInputs for the TOOL

  • Resource names of all the people who are to be scheduled for operational work, maintenance work and project work
  • All current operational work. This includes ad-hoc help desk issues the routinely scheduled maintenance work that must be done to meet system or regulatory standards.
  • All current project assignments along with estimated resource requirements for the task
  • Constraints for scheduling

Calculations the TOOL needs to make:

Estimated availability of each resource based on a prediction of:

  • How much ad-hoc work does the person do in an x day span
  • Routinely scheduled operational work
  • The personal schedule (days off, vacation, etc.)

Recalculate all projects and create baseline change reports

  • Output Baseline change reports
  • Modified project schedules
  • Resource optimization reports
  • Resource deficiency reports
  • Frequency Monthly (if not bi-weekly)

TIPS

  1. You need a centralized schedule system or scheduling methodology
  2. It needs to average the past 60 days of help desk activity and put a forward availability factor for every staff that is on the roster
  3. All of your projects need to be re-resourced during each calculation iteration to give you, the project manager, with an insight into what projects are at risk
  4. All operational activities for the IT department have to be factored into each staffs schedule
  5. All projects have to be managed through this system and all IT teams and project resources need to be included.
  6. Aside from the incredible power and resource drain that is going to occur during this process, the resulting data can give the team, managers, and executives with real-time, important information that will aid in decision-making and help the project manager produce a defensible schedule.
TeamHeadquarters collaborative project management + help desk software can help you bring together your maintenance work, ad hoc work and your scheduled projects under one application. With the excellent portfolio and project management reporting you’ll get the answers you need in real-time.
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