project workload

Project workload: how to plan it to the best

A project manager has to deal with customer expectations, project deadlines and evolving priorities, all of this while trying to coordinate and manage the team and respond to stakeholder demands.

Let’s face it, it is a demanding job that takes time and effort to manage all the parts and sometimes hours are never enough!

Project managers are involved both in managing the workload of their team as well as managing their workload.

The organization and time management skills are therefore essential to ensure that the work is done as efficiently as possible.
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“CONTENT INDEX”

Set clear expectations
Communicate consistently
Distribute the workload
Always analyze

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This is why it is so important to think about how to prioritize and organize the workload.

Keeping the workload under control saves time, simplifies processes, reduces costs and improves productivity.

Here are four suggestions for effective workload management.

1) Set clear expectations

We spend most of our working life managing the expectations and priorities of other people.

And when those expectations are not clearly communicated, the project team does not know the limits and rules in which it should operate.

Clearly establish goals from the beginning and organize regular meetings for each new project and during the lifetime of a project, clarify the situation with the entire team.

All those involved in the project should know the general vision, the role they play and how they should behave.

These meetings serve to set the basic rules, answer questions and doubts and make sure everyone is moving in the same direction.

Internal planning documents are valuable for these initial conversations.

These documents serve as a framework for project expectations and typically include:

  • Context on the problem that the project should solve and the motivations;
  • Goals and requirements of the project;
  • Summary of the solution;
  • FAQ, frequently asked questions about the project.

The planning documents also serve as official documents to consult during the entire duration of the project.

The project document can also be reviewed during meetings with customers and other stakeholders to remind them of the goals and direction of the project.

Establishing clear and realistic expectations at the beginning of a project and ensuring that these are accepted and respected by all stakeholders is the key to avoid potential disappointments and mistrust.

2) Communicate consistently

Even the smallest misunderstandings can cause stress, frustration and resentment among the employees.

A clear and coherent communication from the beginning can help to avoid these negative emotions and feelings.

A structured communication process is essential, especially when activities become more complex.

project workload

Not only it is necessary to make regular meetings with the team in order to remember the goals of the project and to align on the activities, but also to share the feelings the various members and if they have particular worries.

This dialogue also helps to understand how and when it is necessary to make transfers of resources to provide better support to the team and make it work better.

Even if everything is done for the best, deadlines and costs are in line, and the team is doing a good job, it is right to inform employees that their work is appreciated.

The key is to help them understand and stay focused on the big picture and goals, support them and continuously recognize how their contributions are driving the project.

3) Distribute the workload

What are the skills of the project team?

Who is actually available during the entire duration of the project?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each collaborator?

Often there is the temptation to overload the best employees at the expense of others.

However, this behavior will not only lead the top performers to a possible crisis, but also the other collaborators to get bored and lose interest in the project in general.

A solution could be, for example, to leave to the more performing team members the most complex tasks and everything else is distributed evenly in the team.

Clearly, staffing needs will change during project execution.

For this reason, you need to be aware of how each member of the team spends their time, so that there is space for flexibility to adjust the course when necessary.

The resource program, like any project activity, must also be strategically planned.

Moreover, it is also necessary for everyone to understand expectations and how everyone is contributing to superior goals.

In case of doubts or problems, the team should not be afraid to communicate or and should not find blocks to communication in the work environment.

It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure a fair amount of work for all team members, based on their individual knowledge, skills and experience.

4) Always analyze

You can not manage what is not measured.

Therefore, it is essential to have workload management software available to keep track of project successes and challenges.

However, in particular situations, such as meetings, it is possible to use also other effective tools for managing workload … such as a notebook and a pen.

Every day, when analyzing the situation of the project, it is possible to take note of any opportunities or possible risks.

During meetings with employees and stakeholders, you can take note of doubts, questions, feedback, impressions that are exposed.

Over time, by reviewing the notes, you will be able to keep track of project results and resource trends.

Perhaps a customer’s projects exceed the budget everytime?

One of the team members is constantly overloaded with work while another continues to ask for more responsibilities?

If you create a constant habit of taking notes and examining them every week or month, you can identify what works and what does not and start solving the recurring problems, so that they do not persist.

Some useful questions to ask are:

  • What worked well in this project?
  • Why did this project exceed the budget?
  • Has this project been profitable?
  • Who is overburdened with work?

Understanding and recording these data helps identify which process changes are needed, so you can iteratively improve your priority and organize the workload.

It is clear that the use of a special software is essential to simplify and optimize the outputs of this analysis.

In fact, the classification of data allows an analysis of them, as well as the strategic use with a view to improving the company.

Proactively making intelligent decisions about the flow and workload of the team becomes functional thanks to the use of integrated project software.

Do you have any suggestions on how to manage the workload to the fullest?

What were your biggest difficulties?

Leave us your comment.

Start planning the workload of your project.

workload

How to manage the workload of a project: 6 key suggestions

Managing the workload of a project, is getting the right balance of tasks for each team member, is one of the most critical tasks that a project manager has to face.

In fact, the equitable distribution of the workload in a team is definitely a challenging task, and the temptation to entrust more projects to the best performing worker is always lurking.

But in the planning of a project, it is also necessary to be fair.

The excellent management of workload and team performance are therefore a essential goals.
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“CONTENT INDEX”

Check the current workload
Report of skills and absences
Set expectations
Identify the overworked staff
Identify the “free” staff
Inform about changes in planning
The key points to remember

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In the continuos dialogue with the Project managers, we receive frequent and common questions:

  • What matters to customers and / or stakeholders?
  • How is it possible to obtain the best results?
  • How is it possible not to overload resources?
  • How can resources be used wisely?
  • How is it posible to obtain more from low-performing resources?

Here, then, a simple 6-step approach to ensure the correct management of activities and workload within the team.

1. Check the current workload

If you the project is starting from scratch, it is necessary to examine the current situation of the team.

Are the team members also following other projects? What are their other daily activities to keep in mind?

It is possible to manage in an optimal way only what is known.

Some people may be available to work on the project activities just for a limited time of their day / week, on the other hnad, others may be available full-time.

It is therefore essential to know this aspect in details in order to manage the workload equally.

2. Report of skills and absences

It is possible to better manage the workload of the team, if the project manager knows when the individual employees are absent: holidays, company outings, etc.

It is important to include these absences in the planning in order to not assign work during these periods.

Assigning an activity to a resourse that will be out of office or not available will certainly end up in a delay of the delivery.

In the same manner, it is important to speak with each employee in order to be sure to know all of his skills and competencies.

Each person can be a valid “player” if his strengths, skills and responsibilities are well known.

In this way it will be easier to assign an appropriate job and thus move towards excellence.

A collaborator may be able to work in different areas thanks to new knowledge acquired, or to deal with more technical tasks thanks to new skills developed.

workload

Therefore, the suggestion is to cyclically verify the “new skills” learned from the individual collaborator.

Normally, during the planning of the project, a list of all the work and the various activities is drawn up.

The tasks will be assigned according to the function, position and specific strength of each worker.

3. Set expectations

Setting goals and skills is not enough.

The task of the Project Manager is also to constantly remember the pre-established goals and to underline the level of commitment expected from each team member.

This helps the team to focus.

There must be a clearly expressed and shared value to which everyone should equally contribute with his talents, skills and energy.

One of the difficulties in ensuring that a workload is fair is that employees never work at the same pace.

In other words, even when the workload seems “fair and even”, it may not really be that way.

It is important to ensure that employees understand that hours can not be compared with productivity.

In fact, for two hours worked, two employees can produce different results.

The best way to do this is to praise the truly satisfying and successful performance of the project, regardless of the working hours.

A project manager should pay attention to what people are realizing in practice and not just to the number of working hours.

Granted that the time required by a resource to finish a certain activity is not really exaggerated.

4. Identify the overworked staff

This means to identify those resources that have already received more work than they can actually do in the time available.

If a collaborator really has too much work, it is possible to divide the activities into smaller blocks to distribute to several other resources.

Or postpone the deadline of a certain activity in order to lighten the daily workload.

Also for the overall workload management, it is possible to follow the 80/20 rule.

  • People should be assigned to specific tasks only for 80% of their time.
  • The remaining 20% will be used to answer phone calls, attend team meetings, deal with the clients and so on. This 20% should be distributed evenly throughout the week. It is better to fill people’s time for – for example – 6 hours a day, rather than giving them a fixed day “free” from specific activities.

There may also be the case where a person seems overburdened with work, even if this is not the reality. This can occur when the resource is not able to manage its work efficiently.

There are possible interventions to offer in these cases, such as a coaching with a more efficient colleague or a training course.

But we must also consider the fact that some people do not belong to the jobs they are in and therefore may not be suitable for the task assigned.

In this case, it may be necessary to change the role and function within the organization.

5. Identify the “free” staff

Team members are motivated when their day is full of meaningful tasks.

This makes them feel important for the project.

A time management system will help to understand if the employees are working on priority activities, or in general on activities important for the project, or not.

In some situations, the collaborators themselves can ask for more work. On the other hand, they could also say that they can not take on further tasks.

This is where the workload management capability of a project manager comes into play.

Are the team members really too busy or are they just working on the wrong tasks? What if they were just incredibly unproductive?

Some people do not give the right importance to their work and they do only the bare minimum.

With this kind of people we need to be clear.

They will have to know that the level of commitment could have consequences in terms of the possibility of promotion, financial incentives and prestigious assignments.

The more the team’s strengths and working patterns are known, the easier it will be to correctly manage the workload.

6. Inform about changes in planning

Obviously, even with the best planning, the development of a project may require an immediate change of priorities.

If you intend to change an assignment in the resource planning or workload system, it is absolutely necessary to speak first with the relevant stakeholders and collaborators.

This is one of the main tricks to keep the team happy.

Communication in this situation is essential.

It is necessary to explain the reasons behind structural interventions, as well as to highlight the requisites of the resources needed to complete the project. It is strategic to emphasize the need for a project and not make it a personal issue.

The key points to remember

What to do:

  • Spend time on planning in order to reflect on the delegation strategy.
  • Create a list of all the activities that need to be done and then assign tasks based on the specific function, position, and strengths of team members.
  • Create a culture that enhances productivity beyond the hours worked by openly praising an important and successful performance.

What not to do:

  • Being excessively rigid regarding the workload delegation strategy; when priorities change, it is necessary to be flexible.
  • Burn the top performer. Before loading him further, identify if and how it is possible to break down a more complex task into secondary tasks.
  • Let a collaborator “rest on his laurels”. It is necessary to be clear and direct on the general project expectations, as well as on the personal ones.

There are real risks involved in not distributing the workload fairly.

Indeed, if the high performers are overloaded, they will start to resent the fact that they are doing more than their colleagues, in addition to risk the burn out.

If work is taken away from slower people, they will inevitably lose interest.

People also work to achieve success – albeit small – to grow and to be recognized. When this opportunity is not given to them, the risk is high.

This is why in the TWproject software we paid special attention to managing the workload of each team member.

From the planning phase to the monitoring and control phase, it is possible to have a clear picture of the progress of each collaborator’s work.

workload

For each resource the Project Manager can have a graphical representation of the total load per day, (where each color represents a different task), as well as a detailed explanation of the load components.

The functions available are so many! The best way know them is by testing our software

In our software Work and load plan interact in order to provide – in real time – the strategic information for the successful outcome of the project.

What are the difficulties you have encountered in managing your team’s workload?

Leave us your comment.

Start managing the workload of your projects.

A matter of time: Time tracking in a serious way

Of course TwProject allows time tracking. And it can be done at different levels of depth.

The easiest way comes along with the creation of a project: just name it, give it start and end dates, and it is done, as you can start immediately to track the time spent on the project.

There are many time tracking tools out there: in Twproject time tracking is part of the project management and it is integrated with the others features of the tool.

Twproject time tracking system is flexible and customizable: because projects in different fields have a different approach to the workflow and the time spent on the project itself, and so different needs about time tracking as well.

Twproject time tracking system allows issue / ticket based worklog, time planned worklog, timer based worklog: different positions, different jobs, even different departments of the same company could need a different approach to time tracking. But with Twproject you don’t need different tools for different time tracking needs.

All the different ways to track the time can be monitored, validated, approved: it means that generated costs can be verified any moment.

Meanwhile, everything happens on the basis of the principles of sharing and networking: the expected workflow is micro-managed (in issues) and macro-managed (in tasks) within the team.

The project agenda is shared within the team as well: if something goes wrong and resources have to be reallocated, or the agenda has to be reshaped, for an “emergency”, it will be easy to manage what’s happening also in terms of time tracking: all the whos, whats and whens of the project are in the same place, and the time needed and employed for an issue or task is easy to be checked whenever it is needed and by whomever is needed.

Twproject 5.6.59805

This release contains some refinements and small bug fixes. You can download new installers here:

https://twproject.com/start/on-your-server/

Cloud customers can write us if they want this upgrade.

Enhancements:

Timesheets overview and alert job: a better view on future days and link from cells to weekly timesheet.

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Agenda: more space for hours and auto-scroll to current hour.

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Task editor and resource editor: a new compact set of buttons.

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Bugs Fixed:

  • missing worklog checker job: the first day was always in alert
  • task costs: the first time you insert a budget and save it still says, falsely, “unsaved data”
  • import events from iCal: always says “unsaved data”
  • import events form online iCal: fails on some sites (e.g.: office365.com)

Teamwork release 4.3 available for download

Teamwork 4.3 multi-Gantt view.

Teamwork 4.3 multi-Gantt view.

A free upgrade release for all users of version 4.0-4.2, this release includes some major extensions of functionality; while there is no “revolution”, this kind of release makes your “Teamwork life” more comfortable. Several features requests from the feedback service have been fulfilled. Also the user guide has been updated.

Download this release here.

Multi-Gantt support

This was motivated by this request: “Manage graphical Gantt-type overview of all projects”. We then realized that all it needed was the filtering power of projects search together with a Gantt style visualization. So this is what we’ve done: we added an additioanl visualization of the search results. So for example you can see all your root open project closing in 2 weeks in a Gantt style view.

Also all the Gantt scales have been extended to 5 years.

Import from CSV – Bugzilla

Import of issues and resources from CSV files: issues get imported from the Bugzilla CSV export format, but of course in this way you can import from anything.

Collapsible project trees

Projects trees can be collapsed and there are options to keep them open by default etc. . This was this request; thanks to Halil for the first implementation.

More Twitter integrations

Twitter integration with any action and there is a new portlet for filtering tweets on any topic: see the user guide, section 8.3.3.

Little improvements

– All notifications have in the subject the task they refer to, if it exists (this request).
– Display log on descendants (this request).
– Balloons have no more the confusing Roman number.
– Use  darker gray on Gantt duration background – better prints.
– Search analysis worklog: make the field “action” larger.
– In resource list there is no more the bothering default filter by company.
– Snapshot of a task can be edited.
– Search analysis worklog: make the column “action” larger.
– Issue multi editor: if there is a task on the issue and you have an assignment on it, let the watch icon appear even if the issue is not assigned to you.
– Experimental: supporting SSL over LDAP (LDAPS)

Bug fixes

– Issues didn’t get indexed any more for full text search.
– Order in company news doesn’t work.
– Portlet news doesn’t show news ordered by order factor.
– Resource hourly cost sometimes gets set to zero.
– Meeting: drag&drop multi editor doesn’t work for the just inserted.
– The link to resource drawn by the smart combo if the resource is from another area on which you have no right you see the link but you get an error.
– Search of a string containing ” in issues looped the application.
– Sometimes the rollover menu opened in the wrong direction.
– If you change the allowed file storage roots, disable links to old locations.

Technical notes for upgrade

This release build is 11250; it contains no database schema changes for all users of 4.2.10080 and following. As it contains an issue full-text indexing fix, you should reindex your data: see 17.4 of the user guide.

try darker gray on gantt duration background