Always Assign One Person to Be Primarily Responsible for the Work

A common mistake is to assign two or more people to an activity without designating who has the primary responsibility to ensure the work is done correctly and completely. A lack of primary responsibility may make some people defer to each other and end up delaying work that needs to start quickly. You can also run into a problem when multiple people miss portions of work that each person thinks the other one is working on. If an activity has only one person assigned, it is pretty clear who is responsible. But if two or more people are assigned to the same activity, make sure one of them is designated as primarily responsible for coordinating the work to ensure it is done completely, correctly and within quality, effort and duration estimates.

Assign Generic Resource Groups First, Then Specific Resources

In many cases, you are not sure of the specific resources that will be assigned to your team while you are developing the project schedule. This will especially be true for resources that are not needed until further out into the future. In these cases, use a generic resource as a placeholder in the project schedule. For instance, you may need a data modeler three months after the project starts. In the schedule, refer to this person with a generic name of Data Modeler #1. Then, as the time gets closer to actually needing the person, you can update the schedule with the actual name of the person who will do the work. If you estimate the work based on a generic role, you probably will be okay no matter who is actually assigned to do the work.

Use Full-Time Project Resources When Possible

In many cases a project team is made up of full-time and part-time staff. Usually this is a function of the size of the organization, the size of the project, available resources and how the functional department is organized. However, if you have the ability, your first choice should always be to utilize full-time resources on your project.

Taken to the extreme, for example, you will get much more done with one full-time resource than you will with five resources that each are assigned for 20%. Part-time resources have competing workloads, competing priorities and competing managers. This is especially the case if people have part-time project and part-time support responsibilities, since production support issues normally have priority over the project. Also, in many cases, people are not able to effectively manage their time across different projects, which results in the need for more oversight on the part of the project manager. Lastly, there is a productivity cost to having to switch from one type of work to another. The team member needs to ramp down from his current work and ramp up to the second assignment. If there are three sets of priorities, even more thrashing occurs and less productive work gets done.

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