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[Donna Fitzgerald Video Series] Video 6 of 9: Quantifying the Value of Strong Resource Capacity Planning

February 27, 2020 | By Donna Fitzgerald

Tune in to the sixth installment in our 9-part video series with renowned resource management expert, Donna Fitzgerald.

As the Executive Director at NimblePM, Donna Fitzgerald has over 39 years of experience in product development, operations, implementation and research. Prior to founding NimblePM, Donna spent ten-years with Gartner Research as lead analyst in the PPM space where she covered a range of critical topics including IT resource capacity planning, demand management and strategy execution. Donna is widely regarded as a premier thought leader in the resource management and project portfolio management spaces.

In this video, Donna explains how to communicate the value of resource capacity planning to management even when you’re dealing with politics and biases. You’ll also learn:

  • How to frame resource management value in terms that management clearly understands
  • Why you should communicate in terms of completed delivery
  • The process for sequencing project delivery to accomplish more absolute work

Transcript: Quantifying the Value of Strong Resource Capacity Planning

What happens when you’ve done all your resource management right and management’s paying no attention?   I know how frustrating that is, so let me make a proposal of what I’ve seen.  $ vs People.   I absolutely hate to say this but it’s what I’ve observed.  Management believes people are lazy.  Now, they’d rarely say that to your face but essentially there’s a deep-seated belief that in any organization there’s a lot of unproductive time and if people would just get their act together and get their nose to the grindstone, everything management wants would start to happen.  That, in theory, is translating that even if you show them the resource impact of this, they still don’t believe you.  So I am going to propose that you have to quantify it in terms of dollars, that you can’t just look at the impact on people.  You have to go back to management and say, ah, now that we understand the resource capacity, we’ve made sure that we have, and I’m going to use the word “projects” for convenience, we’re going to develop a high-level forecast on all the projects they’ve asked us to do and that is going to equal value.  I wrote a dollar sign there, but I really want you to understand that value can be strategic value, it can be capabilities, it’s got to be expressed in a term that management is very very clear they want.  And by the way, you may also find when you start presenting this that management says I’m not sure that’s really worth the price, but you’ve got to get a unit of measure that speaks to management.  I know most organizations do a very very high-level swag.  I’m saying you have to do a little bit better than that.  Your goal here is I’m going to call it a consulting estimate.  It doesn’t have to be extensive, but every organization has lots of experience in delivering things.  That’s what IT does for a living.  So come on.  There’s a huge installed base of knowledge, a little bit of work we can get here.  Effectively what you’re doing is taking control of the portfolio because by concentrating in some organizations, in others I know this isn’t true, but an organization that will look at the fact that there is definitely resource over-allocation and pay no attention.  You’ve got to shift it back to trade-offs.

Another thing that you have to do is focus on of these projects sequenced for the fastest delivery possible with the right use of resources, what do you get?  Because you’re saying to add more and management is saying no.  It’s got to be do less now.  It’s not obvious because implicitly buy the belief that this is all worth doing since it actually doesn’t get done well and a lot of projects just end up dying of old age.  I’ve been in organizations where there have been ongoing projects for 2 ½ years.  Why?  And it was a six-month project and it’s still going on for 2 ½ years.  By that time, we’ve got to even ask what the value is.  So by presenting this, we start to say to management that we assume these are the things you really want.  From the best questions we’ve asked, these are your highest priorities.  We can do these 10 this quarter, we can do these 10 in Q2, we can do these 10 in Q3 and we can do these 10 in Q4.  So simply we’re going to do 40 projects this year.  We’re going to deliver them.  There may be other projects in flight that just might take a little bit longer, but we are going to deliver this completed.  This is the value that we’re going to do with our existing staff.  If you wish to make changes to this list, we can change it because we now have the capability to do it.  What we don’t have the capability to do is the 75 projects that you asked us to do in this timeframe.  If you don’t like the 40 we have completed, tell us which ones.  We have all the schedules, we have all the estimates, we have everything as neat and clean as you want to see.  We’re not asking you for more people.  If you want the 75 done instead of the 40, we’ll tell you that you can add more add people, you can outsource them.  You can bring in one of the big consulting firms, you’ve got lots of options if it makes sense.  But that’s reframing.

Because this belief that there’s lack of productivity in the organization is so strong that can be hard to move it because, and there’s a second reason, the dreaded politics.  It could also be that you have a highly fragmented management team.  Everybody wants what they want and no one can argue with each other so they’re all going to throw it in and they all got their portion of the 75.  That’s all they really cared about was did that get in the system and delivery, when you get politics, may be less important.  You can either live with this situation because it’s the politics of your company and it’s how they’re comfortable operating.  Or you can come over here and do this.  Let me propose, if you look at this and it strikes absolute terror into your heart, that somebody will find out you’re doing this and believe you’re challenging management, do it quietly.  No one can control what you do in your own office and what you think in your own head.  I guarantee you that if you look at that 75 and you slowly start to make a case, we’ll just say the top 15.  Most organizations across the world can competently deliver the top five projects.  Knock them out of the park.  Let’s say that this year all we want to do is the top 15.  We’re going to pick those to the best of our absolute knowledge.  If we know we’ve got politics, we’re going to make sure that in the top 15 is what each of the individual power centers wanted.  We’re going to make sure that it delivers to the best of our knowledge and it is doable in as quick a time as possible and let’s be honest, we’re going to starve some of the others because they’re starving anyway!  Why would we want to starve 75 projects when we can simply reorient and start the rest?  The concept that many managers believe is that if I get it started, IT will finish it.  That’s almost a warning sign that says they don’t believe IT can deliver reliably.  If you can deliver the top 15 in a reasonable amount of time, that gives you the right to go to people individually and ask will you start to believe me that I can start some things later and still deliver.  And if you start sequencing delivery, by the way this is something that was worked out in manufacturing at least 40 years ago if not longer, you’re probably going to do more absolute work than you could have if you started all of the 75.

So can you change the people who are telling you no, not by confronting them directly.  They’re looking at the evidence.  It’s politics; it’s a lot of things.  Can you still do something valuable and productive to start to change the culture?  Yeah, you can.  It’s actually worth the effort.  So again to say that you’re not wasting your time, let’s say this is getting very very frustrating, you do this.  You’ve learned how to do it.  You’ve learned how to play the politics.  You’ve learned how to test the system.  I guarantee that level of knowledge will stand you in good stead no matter what else you decide to do with your career.

Thank you.



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