Dear PM Advisor. July 9, 2013

Dear PM Advisor,  We are organizing our projects in an effort to start prioritizing them all and staffing up the most important. We are collecting existing projects and resources available to work on projects. The head of R&D seems to be playing the system by not listing his projects as cross-functional and withholding all his resources to work on these 'Internal' projects. Any ideas on how to deal with this?

 Resource Hog in Oakland, NJ

Dear Resource Hog,

First of all, congratulations on reaching the PM maturity level where you are actually prioritizing projects. Many companies don't ever get there.

You describe a pretty common problem when companies get to that point. V.P.s and Directors get nervous that this process will slow down their pet projects. Why? Because they are probably not that important to the overall business. They are draining resources away from more important projects. You have to be tough.

The key champion of his prioritization process needs to firmly state the following:

  1. This company does two things:
    • Ongoing Operations which provides the money to bring profits to the organization.
    • Projects which represent an investment in the future so that the company will make even more profits when these projects are complete
  2. Projects only show their profits when they are finished
  3. The company prospers when 5 projects finish, not when 20 projects start
  4. Projects will be prioritized so that we are only working on the most important projects
  5. These projects will be fully staffed from the top down
  6. People not working on Ongoing Operations full time will be placed into the resource pool that will staff these projects
  7. When we run out of resources, we no longer work on less important projects until those projects we are working on complete and resources are freed up
  8. This process will result in more projects finishing per year and more profits for the company
  9. There will be no exceptions to step # 6

Then you need to ensure there is no cheating. Anyone working on a project must record their time as such and only on AUTHORIZED projects stemming from the prioritization process. Stealth projects are fair game for anyone to weed out. Make the offending V.P. or Director defend the Ongoing Operations work his hidden resources are doing. The most effective method will be peer pressure from the other members of the Project Steering Committee running this Prioritization Process.

Good luck,

PM Advisor
Send your questions to