Project staff capacity planning

Obviously, one of the ways any project manager can accomplish more with existing resources is to improve the productivity of those resources. Improving your staff’s capacity/productivity is an on-going effort and one that’s important for the employee, your company, and for you as an IT manager.

Improving your existing staff’s capacity/productivity can be accomplished in several ways:
1. Train and develop your employees—Target specific training opportunities for each employee that helps him or her do more. The training can be internal programs that cost little to nothing other than time from one of your senior people. Or, you can use
outside vendor programs that can teach specific skills to the employee that improve his or her production capability.
2. Coach and focus employee efforts—Too often, we allow our employees to “find their own way.” Being more proactive in delineating employee responsibilities, focusing their efforts on important tasks, and coaching them for higher productivity is a good thing. Expect higher productivity and you will often get it.
3. Give them tools—Our IT employees want to be productive and to produce quality results. Invest in your employees by giving them the tools that boost their productivity.
4. Incorporate a quality improvement program—Often, employee productivity is hampered by poor quality in the delivery of their efforts. More than not, they can’t see the problem; it’s the “can’t see the forest for the trees” issue. For example, if your programming staff has to fix lots of problems that are discovered after software enhancements are put into production, you have both a client service problem and a productivity problem.

Implement a quality improvement process that delivers higher quality code. You will initially see your programming output drop, but it will soon increase and your productivity will improve considerably. Every time I have implemented a quality improvement program, I have met resistance from my senior people. Only after showing them the numbers before and after the quality program do they actually believe it improves the team’s output.

5. Give extra incentives for more work—In a couple of situations we had an inordinate amount of programming backlog. We needed to reduce the backlog level, but didn’t want to hire more people. To attack the problem, I offered our programming staff incentives to work on extra projects “on their own time,” which meant outside of normal hours. This type of program can be very effective, but you have to be careful to avoid creating an impression that you are paying for overtime. Hourly people get overtime, not professionals. You also only want to authorize the additional work to those who are doing an acceptable job; in other words, the way to qualify for the incentive work is by doing your normal job well. I tend to use a program like this only in short spurts, say three to five months, versus
allowing it to become a normal work program.

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