Not having enough resources is normal

I came across a post from CA’s IT Governance evangelist Steve Romero on resource constraints and project portfolio management.  His post “Never say again, ‘We don’t have enough resources to get the work done'” is an extended riff off this observation that:

[A] problem that besets every organization I have encountered in the 30+ years I’ve been working in IT. It is a statement I hear again and again: “We don’t have enough resources to get the work done.” Even though I get the affirming head-nods when I mention this problem, I ask folks in my audiences if they have enough resources to get the work done. Out of thousands of people, only one has raised their hand.

Romero goes on to promote a fact-based approach — centered on solid demand and resource management processes — to make sure that we’re “choosing the right things”, which should remove the need to make the “not enough resources claim.

I don’t buy much of his proposed approach, largely because I disagree with his definition of “choosing the right things” (below):

First, organizations must determine if a project or program should be done. If the investment promises appropriate value the next determination is, can it be done?

From my reading, Romero is saying that if one can’t do a project, then the project isn’t a “right thing”, and therefore you don’t have a resource problem.   Doesn’t this beg the question of having enough resources by making “can” we do the project dominate “should” we do the project?

4 Responses

  1. Not just normal, but often a good thing. If you’re not forced to prioritise, you are almost bound to be investing sub-optimally.

    • Hi Mike,
      Exactly…I’ll highlight your comment a in post. This issue ties back to some of the R&D issues SAP had earlier in the decade (which I commented on in a post somewhere that I’ll have to dig up).

    • First, prioritizaiton should not be driven by resource-constrained-necessity. It should be driven by an acute understanding of an investments value and potential contribution to achieving strategic goals. I should never say yes to every project request simply because I have the resources to do them.

      And the point of my post is eliminating the constant complaint and exclamation of not having enough resources to get the work done. Instead, this general statement should be replaced by specific data. This data is then used to faciliate the go/no-go decision-making assoiated with PPM. In the absense of this data, the go-decision is made devoid of the “can it be done” consequences.

      Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist.

  2. Hi Paul, it’s great to see you continuing the conversation.

    I don’t think “can we do the project?” should dominate “should we do the project?” In fact, the “can we” question comes second. But it is a question that “should be” asked.

    Just because the answer to “can we” may be no, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should not do the project. It just means we need to reconcile the “can’t” to a “can.” This could mean adding more resources, or simply adjusting the portfolio to make room for the new project.

    My concern is that many organizations don’t have the data to determine if a project can be done after they determine it should be done. I believe a portfolio of the “right things” is comprised of those investments promising the greatest value given the resources available to achieve them.

    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist

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