Is Your IT Team Spread Too Thin? Understanding Resource Allocation and Capacity

By Andrew Graf, Chief Product Strategist, TeamDynamix

Public sector organizations are challenged by lack of IT resources – particularly in light of the rapid increase in tech spend. This onslaught of new technology needs to be implemented and supported but this is increasingly a challenge. The outcome is increased project delays and reduced satisfaction in IT service delivery.

In state and local governments, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are challenged daily to find a balance between “keeping the lights on” efforts and more far reaching transformation projects. IT transformation projects are regularly neglected in favor of maintenance initiatives simply because there are not enough resources to manage both. For this reason, CIOs are looking for ways to optimize resources to maximize output. Resource capacity planning can go a long way in helping organizations optimize resource allocation to ensure better project outcomes – including on-time, on-budget delivery.

Often in public sector organizations, teams do not have the luxury to assign team members full time to specific, discrete projects. Instead, team members are pulled in different directions and are asked to balance ongoing duties as well as responsibilities to a special project to which they have been assigned. When this happens, both ongoing operations and the project will likely suffer.

Focused and deliberate resource planning can help public sector organizations optimize the talent within their ranks. Ideally, it gives organizations the ability to forecast the types and volume of resources needed to address specific strategic initiatives. On the flip side, it enables project leaders to better assess the talent within their organizations, where it is currently allocated, how it can be freed for strategic initiatives, and where they need to build more capacity.

Project management solutions are an important part of the answer. A recent survey by the Resource Management Institute found that 94% of IT project managers and PMO leaders identified resource assignment capabilities as the primary reason for implementing project management software. Yet, the 2018 Pulse of the Profession Survey, the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) annual global survey, found that only 25% of respondents say they “always” utilize resource management to estimate and allocate resources.

Right-Size Your Approach and Use Project Portfolios

Resource capacity planning should match the culture of the organization and the project requirements – there is no one-size-fits all approach. It can be as simple as making estimates based on anticipated projects, or as complex as tracking actual time spent and comparing against estimates. The most important thing to consider before looking to roll out resource capacity planning is that it meets an organizational need. For example, perhaps executives need a holistic view of what projects employees are spending their time on. Depending on the organization, a high-level dashboard may be sufficient to raise awareness of staffing concerns without implementing a complex tracking program.

One step that will have a significant impact on effectiveness is the use of Project Portfolios. Rather than viewing each project independently, projects can roll-up to a portfolio so that resources can be viewed across multiple projects.

Bring IT Service Management & Projects Together

An organization’s resources will be best optimized by utilizing a single platform approach that looks at work across both IT tickets and projects. It is critical to overall success that one platform tracks tickets, incidents, problems, operations, projects, and more, such as change and asset management. When support tickets and projects are in one place, resources can easily be tracked against both tickets and projects. In addition, a ticket can be converted to a project and a project can kick off tickets. Ultimately, this will help save an organization time and money – both especially important for public sector organizations.

Public Sector Resource Challenges

State and local governments are particularly challenged when it comes to resources. There is immense competition for talent from private sector organizations, constant budget constraints, and team members struggling to prioritize special projects versus day-to-day tasks. There is an epidemic of “too much to accomplish” and a constant overloading of team members.  Resource capacity planning can help alleviate this burden.

There are many benefits to resource capacity planning but implementing it should be approached simply and thoughtfully. Organizations need visibility to appropriately define and then assess resource availability – a single platform is the answer to ensure end-to-end visibility throughout the duration of a project.

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