Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Resource Leveling

In an era when demand for IT services always exceeds supply, it’s important to triage incoming requests and allocate existing resources to completing the highest priority projects in the shortest time.

Time, scope, and resources are the only three levers available to a CIO.   Scope can be set by governance and steering committees, but time and resources often fall to the CIO to allocate.

I have long used the concept of resource leveling, which sets project start and end dates based on available resources.

This year, I’m bringing resource leveling dashboards to all my governance committees so that as new projects are requested, it is clear which projects will be delayed (or not started) by the insertion of new scope.

Expectations of service delivery in 2015 are compounded by the instant gratification of “there’s an app for that, how hard can it be”.    Cycle times of 18 months are no longer acceptable.   I can reduce the scope of projects by moving as many applications to Software as a Service subscriptions, relying on the scalability of vendors rather than the relatively fixed pool of IT staff, but for the many tasks still only available through internal building, I need to expand the resource leveling accountability beyond the office of the CIO to the business owners, so that the start/end times for projects are not “my” plan but “our” plan.

When the stakeholders have visibility into the allocation of resources, understanding the trade offs that must be made as new regulatory requests, urgent incident response, and unplanned strategic projects are added to the plate, hopefully there will better alignment between expectations and service delivery.

As the entire healthcare industry experiences accelerating change, and pressure to perform in a resource constrained environment increases, it is easy to single out IT as the rate limiting step to success.     Over the next 6 months, I hope to turn that conversation around as stakeholders have a role in resource leveling and can broadly communicate the decisions made collectively, providing the greatest IT good for the greatest number of stakeholders in the shortest time.

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