Death By A Thousand Cuts or How To Slow Down Your Project Without Knowing Why
Just an observation regarding resources and resource planning. When I’ve viewed other PMs project plans I’ve noticed that they assign resource names of core team members (first level) and many times extended team members (second level) and Subject Matter Experts (SME). What I don’t see many PMs do is regularly create and assign resources to ALL “touch points” in a project. My definition of “Touch Points” is any person, department, division, R&D/production/test equipment, vendor, supplier, or other that interfaces with the project and that must provide inputs or produce an intermediate or final output of some kind to the project. Case in point, how many list the documentation department, metrology, or equipment maintenance as a resource in projects? Why not? New product projects easily generate hundreds (sometimes thousands) of Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) or Engineering Change Orders (ECOs). If the documentation dept. is a small staff and you have a new medical product that generates one thousand ECN/ECOs over one year at one hour per ECN/ECO for review, input, processing, scanning, approvals, recording, backups, filing, and offsite storage you’ve just handed the dept. 1000+ hours of work or 6 man months of labor. Will they be able to absorb that amount of additional work? Are other projects ongoing that will add additional labor to this dept.? Does the Doc. Dept. even have the budget for overtime or hire additional temporary staff if needed? These are typical areas that are outside the project that we normally take for granted. I worked on a project that revalidated an entire manufacturing site. There were 1800 Installation Qualifications (IQ) alone not to mention additional Operational Qualifications (OQ) and Process Qualifications (PQ). Each protocol had to be submitted and approved and put into documentation BEFORE execution. Every executed final report had to be approved and placed into documentation. That alone is two ECN/ECOs times 1800 IQs equals 3600 hours of additional labor! By adding touch points to your project plan you can summarize your findings and have data to discuss with others. With this information you can meet with affected department managers and go over your findings and come up with a plan to address this potential bottleneck. Perhaps the additional labor required to pay for processing ECN/ECOs comes out of your project budget! This is the foresight and preplanning for which excellent PMs get paid. The alternate is to wait three to six months into the project and keep bringing up and explaining why deliverables are late, “The paperwork is still in documentation!”
You get the idea. Add ALL touch points as resources to your project plan. Summarize and share the data with the affected parties. They can approve your plan or you’ll at least have time to make changes that will minimally affect your schedule.