Projects…Time…Projects…No Time

Talk with many PM’s around the world and, no matter the project or project type, properly allocating time and resources is a never ending critical part of the job. Estimates based on the most solid metrics are subject to change and cost overruns. So goes the life of a project manager.
What’s surprising is how many PM’s don’t take advantage of the software tools available to them and deployed in their environment. Sure, most PM’s use the resource assignments, task dependencies and many of the software features available, but many do not put the simplest of task items into the software’s calculations such as the estimated task start and end dates.
I have seen tons of project plans that include the basics…task hierarchy, resource assignments, and maybe…the tasks start date. Why not use the tasks due/end date too? It takes a few extra seconds to enter and will help better identify resource overload and task delays. Standard Time has a resource allocation chart (pictured below).
Standard Time also displays the inverse, Resource Availability (also shown below).
I know a good number of PM’s utilize these tools properly, it’s to their advantage. But, many do not. I have seen it a hundred times. Aside from the obvious project idiosyncrasies, why not take a few seconds and save hundreds of minutes?

Do you like Project Robots?

You just buried your mom and returned from the funeral. You’re a Project Manager on a high profile project for one of the largest tech companies in the world.  It has only been one day since the funeral and you are still raw with emotion.  Now imagine that you get an email informing you that you are not getting a break from the loss of your mom, but in fact, your workload has been increased.  How about a spouse fighting cancer?  Need a little time?  No!  Instead, how about an increased workload?  Sound crazy? Well, imagine no more…these are true stories.  This brings me to an important point.
In talking with a friend of mine with 26+ years of project management experience about Agile vs. Waterfall methods, he said, “You can have all the methods and processes you want but it all comes down to personal relationships and human intervention”.  This gentleman was responsible for one of the largest SAP installations in US history. I was taken aback by the simple answer when he stated another simple cliché, “Take care of your team and your team will take care of you”, which means that they will take care of the project.
The examples given in the beginning of this blog are not meant to say that we shouldn’t be tough or suck it up.  However, besides being in my opinion morally wrong, it is flat bad for business.  Is the man whom just buried his wife still ready to climb that mountain for the team?  Or, is he waiting for the first chance to jump ship?
All too often we pay lip service to our employees, “Let me know if you need any more resources”, while completely ignoring the realities of life.
I guess the bottom line is we can keep on pushing the machine, but what happens when the machine navigator gets ran over?  Does the machine keep going and if so, who is driving…a robot?
Make sure when you ask someone if they need help that you don’t ignore the reality that is staring you right in the face — unless you like robots.