Now that you have your list of prioritized projects, the project sponsors and stakeholders will be eager to get going. To determine when the work can start, you’ll need to answer the following questions…
- Who (or what roles, if more than one individual can fill the need) needs to be involved in each project? Do you have sufficient knowledge and experience to complete the project in-house or will you need outside resources to help?
- What is the overall effort of the project? Is additional analysis needed to determine more accurate level-of-effort estimates? You don’t want to invest a lot of staff time doing that kind of analysis for every proposed project because many of them will not be accepted and that would be wasted effort. Using a shirt-size method (S, M, L, XL) is sufficient at the proposal stage. When it comes to resource planning and scheduling, you may need more accurate information. The time you expend at this stage depends on your organization’s and the project’s schedule risk tolerance. If schedule accuracy is critical, more analysis is needed. If there is some flexibility for schedules, then a high-level estimate is sufficient and can be refined as more is known after the project is started.
- What scheduling constraints exist? Are there hard deadlines? Are there times when key resources are unavailable due to other demands or vacations? Are there business cycle constraints (e.g., the annual meeting) that need to be factored in?
- When will active projects complete and free up resources for the new projects? New projects will compete with the projects currently running. You can’t say when the new ones will start until you know when the active projects will finish.
Serial vs. Parallel
With answers to these questions, you should now have a better idea about the resources needed to successfully complete the approved projects. Those resources should be available for the anticipated duration of the project. Rather than running multiple concurrent projects for a given resource pool, it is more efficient to keep those resources dedicated to one project through its completion before moving on to the next project.
Michael Bramworth of Planning Planet makes a good case for serial project scheduling rather than parallel. To resist the temptation to start projects, keep in mind that the value of a project comes at its completion—not when it starts.
There will inevitably be idle time for some resources when they are waiting for work to be completed by another project team member or vendor. That time can be filled with small projects that have scheduling flexibility or tasks related to operational support.
Once this Rubik’s Cube has finally been solved, it’s time to start the projects, monitor them as they progress, and evaluate them when they’ve finished.
But Wait…There’s More!
Need help with establishing a PPM process? DelCor can help.
Mike was a guest on DelCor's Reboot IT podcast, Episode 12: Talkin' IT Leadership.