Dear PM Advisor. January 9, 2017


Dear PM Advisor,

Our company has instituted project resource loading and we are being asked to show the availability of our R&D people for projects. I believe we need to reserve some people and some percentage of people for pure research: playing around, to ensure we have products for future pipelines. How do I show that on the resource spreadsheets I am being asked to fill out? 

Long-term thinker in Singapore

Dear Long-term,

First of all, let me congratulate your company for properly resource-loading all your projects. The most common reason late market releases is that the organization is simultaneously running too many projects. Properly assigning resources to projects and work to resources is the best way to avoid this pitfall. 

But your job, as a functional manager, is to show where your people are spending their time inside and outside projects and ensuring that it adds up to 100% while still ensuring that some pure research is going on. That's a tough job. Let's look at this problem in detail.

First of all, the percentage of time and resources a company chooses to dedicate to pure research is a top-level decision. This business strategy should be communicated down to the organization in terms of percent of human resource dollars or a pure dollar figure. If this is not happening, look at the types of projects being placed on the approved list and determine for yourself what the research allocation really is. Then match that in your own department. Nobody can fault you for dedicating 20% of your R&D resources to pure research if the company is dedicating 10% of total resources to research. Most pure research is expected to be dome in the R&D group. Knowing what percentage R&D makes up of total resources will help you come up with the right percentage to use here. 

Now that you have a number, you need to decide where to allocate that percentage. You could allocate it across the board and show that each of your R&D people get to spend 20% of their time on pure research and that comes off the top before we start allocating their time to projects. Or you could allocate 20% of your people to be only doing pure research and be unavailable for development projects. Most likely you will do some combination of the two strategies.

Good luck,

PM Advisor.

Send your questions to: