Don’t Start a Project with Scarcity

April 2, 2011 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Miscellaneous

Don’t Start a Project with Scarcity
By Johanna Rothman

I was talking with a project manager the other day. “I don’t have enough developers. I don’t have enough testers. I don’t have enough UI people. What am I going to do?”

I said, “Well, you have enough people if you have more time. Do you have more time?” He rolled his eyes, and said, “What do you think?”

“Then, don’t do the project. Management hasn’t committed to the project. Why should you?”

Now, you might feel as if you can’t say no. But if your management hasn’t committed to the project by managing the project portfolio and committing to the project in the form of committing enough full-time people to the project, why should you?

If you feel stuck between a rock (your management), and a hard place (your inability to say no), consider these options:

  • Tell your managers when you can start this project with the full-time people you need.
  • Tell your managers when you can deliver this project. Hint, the end date is much longer than you, your managers, or anyone else can imagine. Much, much, much longer.
  • Convince Influence, negotiate, beg, borrow, steal the people you need for one or two weeks and see what you can do with the people you need. Now, plan the rest of the project based on data.

Do not, under any circumstances, commit to an end date if you feel you must start a project with scarce resources of any kind. Do NOT.

You will have to learn to defensively manage the project portfolio–a difficult, but not impossible task for a project manager. You will have to coach your managers on how to manage the project portfolio. You may even discover your project is part of a program, which might make it easier to manage your project, once you understand the dependencies.

The original article can be found at:

Johanna Rothman consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. Johanna is the author of Manage It!’Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management’. She is the coauthor of the pragmatic Behind Closed Doors, Secrets of Great Management, and author of the highly acclaimed Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People. And, Johanna is a host and session leader at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference ( You can see Johanna’s other writings at

No comments yet.

feel free to leave a comment

Comment Guidelines: Basic XHTML is allowed (a href, strong, em, code). All line breaks and paragraphs are automatically generated. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Email addresses will never be published. Keep it PG-13 people!

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

All fields marked with " * " are required.

Project Management Categories