IT resource management: How to allocate limited resources for multiple IT projects
Proper resource management is one of the more overlooked management processes. This is because managers fail to understand that available resources aren’t always the same, they improve (or at least they should) over time.
When I say recourses, I mean the people, the team members that get shit done. Resource allocation isn’t about budget or time: it’s about people. Surely if you have all the time and money in the world that can be dedicated to a single project, you can make something marvelous out of it.
Except that’s not going to happen, like ever. You will always have limited budget and limited time to accomplish often seemingly impossible tasks. What you shouldn’t underestimate though, is the power of people. When managed correctly, a few individuals that work as a team can make the seemingly impossible happen.
Even if your budget and time frames remain the same, it’s still possible to do more with the same amount of people you have.
And this also brings us to the point of what it really means to be a manager for your team. Management isn’t about distributing tasks, watching deadlines, managing crisis or dealing with clients: it’s about smelling out and finding the correct approach, which is different for each company, team, person, project and client.
A godlike manager understands this and always tries to get this task done as fast as possible, since that is how he will be able to do all the rest mentioned above, and more often than not, make the impossible happen.
Know everything about your team
Every team is different.
This is largely because different people behave differently in different scenarios. To be able to allocate resources correctly, you need to know as much as possible about your team. And this isn’t just about technical skills or way of thinking: it’s about knowing how to motivate each person when needed, how to boost his/her efficiency in certain scenarios, which members work particularly well together (which again, will help get more stuff done in less time), understanding why those specific members do well together, etc.
When it comes to understanding your team, there is no information that you don’t want to know.
If a team member wakes up each morning at 5 am to visit the gym before work on a consistent basis, this means that the person can be entrusted with tasks that require consistency and a high level of responsibility.
If a team member’s desk, car, room and house is always in a mess that any normal person would have a hard time dealing with, but he nevertheless produces results, it means that he is accustomed to chaos and disorder and knows how to make it work. He knows how to find the actionable steps that need to be undertaken in order to get the results needed. Knowing this, you can assign particularly chaotic project tasks to those guys, without the fear that they will fail to find a way out.
The way people perceive the world around them often reflects (there are some exceptions, but hey, you can’t have it all at once, right?) how they perform in the work environment. Every person excels at something in his or her life, some people excel at more than one thing: your job is to find out what that is and apply that to the actual job.
Prioritize and organize
Needless to say, prioritizing is essential when managing a number of projects, particularly in IT departments. There is always so much stuff to keep an eye on, that it becomes really difficult to deal with everything at once.
The art of prioritizing, especially when the amount of work is overwhelming and threatens to get out of hand really soon, always comes in handy. Managing a number of projects with a limited number of resources makes things even more complicated. Not to worry though, here is what you can do:
Organize the projects – take a criteria you think is most important (time needed to complete, complexity, client satisfaction, etc.) for your particular case, and organize the projects from MOST important to LEAST important based on that.
Split your team into two groups – You want to split your team into two groups that will consist of people who are most attentive to detail (first group), and people who get the large portion of the job done quickly, even if they mess up a few things here and there (second group).
Have each project ready by 90% in the order that you made previously, with the help of the second team – get the large amount of work out of the way. Have the faster working team prepare everything for one project and leave it like that. Get them to work on the next project and forget about the first one.
Deal with the 10% details – details and finalization often take the most amount of time and require a higher level of attention to make it all right. Have your first team clean up and finalize the projects done by the second team and proceed to the next. This way, you will save a lot of time on each project and be able to effectively juggle multiple projects at the same time.
Don’t stop at the problem, look for the solution
Finally, you need to keep a clear head and a cold heart. Problems and difficulties will arise no matter what you do, and it’s important not to let them overwhelm you. Even in the most dire situations, there is always a way out, you just don’t see it because you are not looking for it.
Thinking about the problem at hand doesn’t help a single bit. In fact, it will lead you down the road to destruction and failure. If an approach you try doesn’t work, just stop trying to make it work and look for another one. There is always something that can be done to set things right (or at least, better than they are now), you just need to program your brain to find it.