This document is sixth in a series about the Seven Deadly Project Sins.
In this narrative, I will continue to focus on some of the “soft-elements” of the project, some temptations that the project manager needs to be on the lookout for in order to foster success on the project.
The Seven Deadly Project Sins as I have defined them are:
- Project Envy
- Resource Gluttony
- Project Lust
- Over-allocation of Resources
- Best Practice Sloth
The sixth Deadly Project Sin – Over-Allocation of Resources can definitely make accomplishing the project more difficult.
How does Over-Allocation happen?
Project Managers are often encouraged to try and meet unreasonable expectations for projects. Scope is often extended while schedules and budget are restricted. Project managers many times try to meet these constrained schedules by pushing their existing resources to their limits.
While it is an acceptable trait to get the most from people, and it is acceptable to push the project team in times of crisis, it should be unacceptable to routinely over-allocate resources based on perceived need, rather than real need.
Let’s look at some common situations that the project manager might find:
- A project must be completed before the company’s main retail selling season. No one “remembered” to plan for this project in the schedule until 30 days before the season begins.
- A project has an arbitrary scheduled completion date based on the sponsors demand. No real need for this product or service has been established.
- The project scope for a planned company meeting has been changed multiple times during the life of the project; the scheduled due date is next week and the sponsor wants to change the product description again.
All of the above examples indicate a need, real or perceived to make changes to the project. All of the above examples will probably require additional resources and “personal heroics” in order to finish the project on time. But will any of these projects used as examples actually provide a quantified return on investment.
If there is a perceived or real need it is usually the first instinct of the project manager to try and compress the schedule and attempt to meet the new requirement. But is this appropriate in the project management environment?
I suggest that over-allocating resources to meet a perceived need that has no real quantified value to the organization is inappropriate. Many times, the reason that a perceived need is created in the organization is due to “personalization” of some portion of the enterprise. Some manager (director, vice-president, C-person) somewhere in the organization is intent upon making their “mark” on the organization through the project. Whether or not the project will have a positive return for the enterprise is not the consideration, the demand of the high ranking individual overrides common sense and return on investment.
It is the project manager’s job to perform “all the scope and ONLY the scope” of the project. It is the project manager’s job to CONTROL the project and the scope. This extends to the need to control the overall project so that the project is achievable in a reasonable fashion.
So what is reasonable, you ask? The definition of reasonable will be defined by each organization, but I would suggest some guidelines:
- The project must provide some quantified, real dollars as a payback in order to be accelerated or compressed.
- Scope changes to the project must contain a real benefit in order to be added. As an example, the idea of changing the theme of the company meeting from red, white and blue to red and gold is just wasteful if it is a preference or a personal decision. The change in color could make sense if there is a return on investment or some actual quantified and agreed upon reason to make the change.
I used to have a supervisor who would answer any resource issues with “you have all the time there is”. He asserted that there were 24 hours in every day and 7 days in every week with which to accomplish the corporate goals. I cannot speak for everyone reading this commentary, but I for one have a life! I intend to pursue happiness in my life and working 24/7 is simply not conducive to my personal goals.
Over-allocation of resources compromises the ability of the resource to have a quality of life. Over-allocation of resources is ultimately a bad business decision. It leads to conflict, burn-out, illness, turnover and loss of subject matter experts.
In conclusion, I would strongly suggest that the over use of resources should occur only under the most extreme circumstances.
This article was first published as a series of articles from August 2007 through February 2008 entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management”. This series of articles were published as “Project Management Tips” on PM World Today and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
The author, Tim Bergmann, is Chief Learning Officer for True Solutions Inc. in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Bergmann is a highly qualified project manager with three decades of experience managing a wide variety of information technology projects. Mr. Bergmann’s experience includes project management, operations management, infrastructure planning and implementation, business continuity planning, customer service and business development.
In 2006 he co-authored the best selling “CISA Study Guide” marketed by Sybex. Mr. Bergmann’s credentials include Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) and Disaster Recovery Institute’s Associate Business Continuity Professional (ABCP).
Mr. Bergmann has seen a progressive management career with several Dallas-based companies such as Compass Computer Service, Zale Corporation, Chief Auto Parts and B. R. Blackmarr/BrightStar Technology Group. His most recent engagement prior to joining TSI was as Director of Education for another D-FW based training company where he developed multiple course content and delivered project management and business continuity training.
As a consultant, he has worked with several Fortune 100 companies in a project management role. Mr. Bergmann has performed premier projects for the world’s largest auto manufacturer, a leading global insurance and investment provider, a regional power generation company, the world’s largest specialty jewelry retailer and a Dallas based transaction network and financial services provider.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Supporting Frameworks for Successful Program Management - Budgeting, Fund Management and Allocation, Expenditure Approval and Tracking of Funds Committed and Expended
- The Seven Deadly Project Sins: Part 1 - Elitism
- The Seven Deadly Project Sins: Part 5 - Personalization
- The Seven Deadly Project Sins: Part 2 - Project Envy
- The Seven Deadly Project Sins: Part 4 - Project Lust
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