Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sharing Resources between Projects & Operations

It is a common dilemma of IT project managers that for any project, they are provided with the resources who are already engaged in Operations.  No I am not talking about software development companies or consultants.  I am talking about in-house IT departments of different organizations.  These IT Departments work as support departments.  The main responsibility of the resources in such a department is to ensure continues and smooth operations.  However, when it comes to introducing any new Software Application or bringing in some new Infrastructure, same resources are provided to the Project Manager to work on the new project.  This situation creates two major challenges for a Project manager.
  1. Time management for a resource between Project and Operations.
  2. Loose control over resources since they report to their functional managers and not to project manager
I will cover point # 2 in another blog entry.  Right now I would focus on the issue mentioned in Point # 1.  This problem can be resolved by the 50/50 formula.  The resource needs to be scheduled based on only 50% of daily time.  Rest 50% of the time, he/she can spend in dealing with Operations issues.  Sounds simple... Does it?  Well things might go more complex..  I was once delivering a lecture in a Project management class when one of the students (Who was a professional DBA and a support resource of an in-house IT Department) asked about the same subject and I replied him the same.  But he said that there are some times operational issues which might take a couple of days or even weeks to get resolve. And usually they are on such a high level of priority that a resource really can not work on project and no alternate resource is available.  So what should a project manager do in this case?

My answer was to do the following:
  1. Prepare a change request for temporary release of the resource from project due to Operations requirements and get it approved from sponsor. 
  2. Add an entry in Project Issue Log regarding the resource un-availability due to Operations issue. Mention the Service Ticket number of the Operations issue (Usually most of the IT departments use a Help Desk or Service Desk software for operations which generates Service ticket numbers) and mention that change request#  as well.  
  3. Once the resource is available, adjust the project schedule if needed.  Raise another change request for resource addition to the project and schedule update and close the issue in the issue log after its approval."

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