Well, what started back in mid 2009 as a few blog posts to capture a systematic approach to trying to get a handle on the various ways work requests come to a delivery focused team exploded into a 14,000 word, 13 part blog posting series on the topic. I managed three different delivery teams within three different companies within three different industries while this topic was being explored. The diversity of the teams, the size of the overall organizations (6 member team in 2,000 person IT department within 36,000 employees, 21 member team in 40 IT person department within 300 employees and 8 member team in 100 IT person department within 7,000 employees) and the industries (financial services, legal services and manufacturing) all helped to give me confidence to present the model described throughout this series.
Clearly the theme throughout this series is to use data where ever possible to represent all facets of the work your team is doing. In all three companies I received extremely positive feedback for the effectiveness of my approach from my management. Thus, I felt confident to share my approach with others in hopes others would find a way to adopt some of the techniques to enhance their management function.
Below is a brief summary of the key take-aways and techniques presented in each of the parts of this series in case readers missed any parts along the way or are interested in reading more about a particular topic:
Starts the series by requesting you make a list of all the high level service delivery attributes of your team. Next, you are asked to list out the various ways work arrives to your team for each attribute that was documented. Additionally, if there was specific technology under the umbrella of services your team provides, document those and include relevant dates of version upgrades and version end-of-life conditions that represents work you know your team has to perform.
Part 2 extends the list in part 1 to start to derive a model for how your team operates. You are asked to identify how much influence you have over each work attribute. Those attributes of which you have a high degree of influence means you are in a position to plan out the work. Those of which you have little influence means you are reacting to the work. For the attributes with little to no influence, you are requested to identify sources of predictive data such as historical request metrics and duration data to form trends. Additionally, you are asked to develop relationships with individuals and groups that are sources of work requests to assist in building work request pipelines.
Now that a baseline work request attribute and influence system has formed, you are guided through the thought process of determining how much capacity your team has to actually deliver work. The familiar topic of an eight hour day doesn’t really mean each team member can focus eight hours on work requests is discussed to arrive at a data supported, more realistic number of hours per day to dedicate to service request work.
Part 4 describes how to apply the numbers your collected in part 3 towards juggling high and low influences over the requested work scheduling. How to communicate this juggling by using data to your management and work requesters is also discussed.
This part in the series describes how to take the low level numbers from the previous two parts and determine the true overall capacity your team has for doing work in a given time period. The excellent article on this pragmatic capacity planning by Peter Kretzman (http://peterkretzman.com) is also covered.
Part 6 dives deeper into work requests that require some partial dedication of a resource on your team to a work effort and some of the nuances around safely committing to work deliverables knowing you don’t have fully dedicated resources.
This part talks about how to integrate unplanned work requests into in flight work at a high level. Engagement models and other similar topics are also discussed.
Now that the basics have been covered and a variety of work request patterns have been discussed, this part starts to walk you through how to build a comprehensive team resource plan.
With Part 8 setting the framework for your team resource plan, Part 9 suggests how to sequence and represent detailed work requests. Additionally, having your team participate in the process as well as provide critical work estimation data is also covered.
Now that the team resource plan has the majority of externally requested work represented, the addition of non-request work is covered. Topics such as “special projects” and “HR-ish” work is covered. What to include, what to not include and to what level of detail is the focus of this part.
Now that you have a rather comprehensive team resource plan, this part describes mechanisms to help keep the plan from going stale. Additionally, how the plan improves your external perception as a manager is explored.
This part extends your team resource plan to offer “what if” scenarios around the cost of working on a new hot priority request and how to use your team resource plan to assist with prioritization with your management and the requesters.
This final part tackles one of the most challenging topics facing a team manager: how to justify a request for additional staff. The team resource plan is a critical tool in either forecasting forward or re-planning the past to use data to justify that staff add.
All in all, I hope you have enjoyed reading this series and found some element of it useful to you. I would appreciate any comments on the series as whole as far as its overall usefulness to you as well as any feedback around alternative approaches to topics I’ve outlined.