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Adequately Staff the Project

By Raleigh deShazo

You’ve thoroughly documented the Day 1 requirements. Scopes for development efforts are in process. Good job! If yours is like most projects, before you defined the project scope you were given a target date for implementation. Now the question is … can you meet it? Well, that depends. You need the right number of resources with the right skill sets.

In my experience, most projects face one of the following problems:

  1. Over-allocated resources – project resources assigned to multiple work-streams or multiple projects.

  2. Inadequate resources – not enough people, missing skill sets, or both.

How do you accurately determine your resource staffing requirements?

  1. Current functionality.

  2. Estimate the work effort for each project deliverable. Remember to include all steps, i.e. specs build, testing, bug fixing, re-work for missed or misunderstood requirements, retesting, weekly status meetings, etc.

  3. Determine the number of resources and number of hours per resource needed to complete each deliverable.

  4. Identify the skill sets needed to complete each deliverable.

  5. Know your dependencies and prepare a mitigation plan. Some will be missed.

  6. Review your estimates with your project team. They know best what they can accomplish.

  7. Build in a buffer. I typically use 20%. A 40-hour week will get you about 32 hours of productive work.

  8. Identify resources assigned to multiple tasks and work-streams. Overloading resources is a serious project risk.

  9. Once you know your hours by task, skill set, and work-stream, you’ll have a better idea of the number of resources needed to achieve your target date.

You’re now in position to justify your recommendations to your project stakeholders. Typically, you’ll need either more resources or more time. The numbers, if done right, don’t lie.