Dear PM Advisor. Oct 12, 2015

Dear PM Advisor, Having read your posts about prioritizing projects, I'm a little confused. Shouldn't all authorized projects be fully resourced and those not authorized remain unstaffed? I'm used to more of a binary solution.

IO in Manchester, NH

Dear IO,

You are not alone. Many companies in a relatively low level of Project Management Maturity have a binary system. If an idea is good, management authorizes it, applies resources against it and expects it to complete on time and on budget. There are a couple of problems with this:

1) Usually there are not enough resources to go around. The proper thing to do is to determine how many of each skill-set are required to complete each project on schedule. If you determine this number and start staffing up your projects properly, you will invariably find you can fully resource less than half the projects you have authorized. That's why they are all running behind schedule.

2) Even when you get to the point where you are only running enough projects for the resources on hand, there still are bottle-neck people and organizations. What do you do with a person who comes into their office and is faced with five different projects to work on that day? Even if they are capable of doing all this work today, which task should be first? For that reason you need to prioritize the authorized projects so that those most important to the business are worked on first.

But the reality is that I have never seen an organization where the resources are neatly spread out amongst the active projects. There are always resource constraints. People need to know what to do in which order. And if management doesn't set this priority, people will set it themselves and not necessarily in a way that represents the best interests of the company.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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