In this video, learn what to do when one person has too much work to do. Different examples include duties being moved to another person, time, or both. Additionally, learn how you can use Excel to manage this process.
- Let's take another look at my three views of the cube, as described in the previous video. By the way, I've included a copy of the spreadsheet in the exercise files, so that you can download it and play around with it. So, looking at the three views, it's clear that they are all interlinked. And in fact, I've color coded it so that you can see Fred's workload spread across the three projects in yellow. Project A's February activity spread across the people's diaries in green, and Sally's work on project B, spread across the months in orange.
The question is, which screen to work with. If you really do need to track all three screens, because you have many projects, many people, and many months to plan ahead, I would like to suggest the following process. First, use the Gantt view as the place where you input your data, who is doing what in each month for each project. Remember that you could use a database for this, but then it all becomes impossible to really understand the workings, which is why I'm suggesting using Excel.
So in the Gantt view, you put in your estimates for how many days each person will need, for each project, over the coming months. These numbers come easily from the Gantt chart, where you can clearly see who is doing what and when. Some people who don't have Gantt charts for each project estimate them straight from their head. I think this is not ideal, because you need a Gantt chart anyway if you're going to manage your individual projects properly. But if, for some reason you don't, or can't have Gantt charts for each project, then you could consider putting rough estimates in at this point.
You'll still be able to get a rough plan, which is better than nothing. Once you've put all the numbers in, you can then go to diary view, and see what it's looking like for each person. Sometimes you can let each person monitor their own diary. You just ask them to commit to the hours that you need, for each new project that comes along, until eventually they say, no, I don't have enough time to do it all. You might want to consider working like that, but I think it's usually better to have a consolidated diary spreadsheet.
Because as you'll see in a minute, we might want to move work across from one person to another in a scientific way. So you look at diary view, and as you can see in my example, Fred has a problem in January, and in February. Each project looked okay in isolation, but he' been committed to 51 days of work in total in each month, and he can't do that. So what do we do? Well, there are only two options.
The first being to get someone else to cover the work. The second one, less ideal, is to delay the work, which may or may not affect the finish date of the project, depending on whether the delayed tasks are on the critical path of that project. They might be tasks which have a bit of leeway in them. So the first plan is to investigate whether the work can be done by someone else. This is where we use the third view, the team view, as the best one. You can see in my example, that although Fred is overworked, Dave has got plenty of time, and Sally hasn't.
So it's Dave that needs to help Fred out. That's assuming Dave has the required skills and knowledge. But even if that's an additional factor, the team view allows you to look at who you've got. Maybe Dave can do what Sally is doing, and then Sally would be freed up to help Fred. Whatever solution you can find. The changes would be made at the input screen which you remember was the Gantt view. We would change the name of who's doing the tasks on the original Gantt chart as well the Gantt view of the resource cube.
But if there just isn't enough resources available in the team, then you have to resort to option two, which is to slip some work into next month. For this, we're back at the first view, the Gantt view, which is our input screen. You can see that Fred is overbooked in January, the yellow squares, and you can also see that project A ends after February. So the question is, do we want to push project A back a month, which affects Dave and Sally too, or can we just move Fred's part of project A, or do we want to do something similar with projects B or C instead? The best way to decide is to look at the detailed Gantt charts for each project.
Is Fred's contribution on the critical path of any of them? Also, to think about which project is least important, or rather, least urgent. Then, once we've moved the work across on the chart, we can again just check that everyone's diaries are okay now. This iteration could be done each time a new project is added, or when something runs late. Or there is a change in resource availability. It's pretty quick, and what's good about it is that you really understand what you're doing.
You're making conscious choices about time and cost and quality, and who can replace who to do particular work. I just don't think a computer can make these decisions. Whatever software you're using, and I'm using Excel here, because we've all got it, and we all know how to use it. This system of looking at the three different views should allow you to see what you need to see and then to make the decisions that you need to make with all of the right information. Try it now.
Set up a little spreadsheet with the people and months, or weeks for each project. Put some numbers in for the hours required, and then see what the diary view comes out as. Then you'll know that you're either okay, or you'll know what needs to be adjusted.
- What is program management?
- Planning from the bottom up vs. top down
- Resource planning
- Managing projects, resources, and time
- Getting the staff you need
- Self-organizing teams