In this article we focus on some of the challenges that IT organizations face when performing resource management and IT resource planning. While the challenges of resource planning in an IT environment are not unique to IT, there are some specific factors that increase the complexity level.
Internal and external resource
IT projects often use a mix of internal and external resource. The domain knowledge, skill levels and capabilities of the resources are often different meaning managers have decisions and trade-offs to make about which resources to use.
Challenge: Modelling different resourcing options is incredibly complex, however getting the optimum resource mix on a project can make a huge difference to the costs and outcomes.
Agile and waterfall projects
IT organizations often have a mix of both agile and traditional waterfall projects with the same resources shared across both.
Challenge: This poses a number of challenges in the resource planning process. First we need to be able to aggregate the resource demand from these different streams. Secondly they operate on different planning time-frames.
State of “Doneness”
Building software is different to building a physical artefact like a bridge. With a bridge you know what it has to do and you know upfront what a finished bridge will look like. But the finished state of an IT project is often unclear and speculative. Until we start building it, it is hard to understand what “done” will look like.
Challenge: Resource planning on IT projects can be volatile and needs to be flexible so changes to resource needs and estimates can be easily incorporated into the resource plan.
Most IT organizations hold a periodic review of their portfolio to decide what projects they should be running. The outcome of this can be new projects starting up, lower value projects being put on hold and resources re-allocated to higher priority projects. Key to making these decisions is being able to understand the impact on resources and ensuring we are able to balance resource demand to resource supply (or understand areas of under supply or over supply of resources).
Challenge: The resource planning process needs to be able to model the effect of proposed portfolio changes on resources before the changes can be approved. Often called scenario modelling or “what-if” modelling this allows managers to validate changes before they are committed to.
Projects, business as usual work and small changes
IT organizations typically have a mix of project work, business as usual work (keeping the lights on activities) and small changes. Therefore resources in IT organizations often have to divide their time among different work streams. For example, a software developer may need to allocate 10% of their time to working on technical support queries with the other 90% of their time spent on project work.
Challenge: The resource planning process needs to be able to allocate resource supply across different sources of demand and also reserve resource time for BAU activities.
Resources are typically the biggest cost to an IT organization so optimizing resource planning can pay huge dividends. While there are specific challenges faced by IT organizations, the great news is that resource planning tools like Kelloo can help you meet these challenges head on.