Behind the Scenes of IT Resource Scheduling
By Ryann Edwards, PMP, Resource Specialist, LogicsOne
A few years ago, we made a change at GreenPages-LogicsOne to streamline how we handle the resource scheduling process. It’s a good thing too, because so far in 2013 there have been close to 400 engagements that have used this new process. While scheduling a large group of resources may sound easy, at times it feels like it takes a team of highly skilled scientific specialists and analysts to get it right. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is actually a bit of a science to it.
I should begin with the disclaimer that the process hasn’t always been so efficient. In fact, most of my new hire trainings begin with the “back in the day” spiel because it brings to light the lessons we’ve learned. This in turn leads to where we are today. So where did we begin? We were slightly blind. Our services team of Account Executive, Solutions Architects, and Project Managers were working in silos when it came to choosing and selecting resources for our services engagements. Everyone involved had the best of intentions: to find the right resource for the project, meet our customers’ deadlines or requests, schedule the project, and implement a highly successful engagement. The problem came when multiple Project Managers had “just the right project” for “just the right Consultant” who, yes, happened to be just the same person. Needless to say, as our professional services organization has grown and matured over the years, the need became strong for a streamlined scheduling system. That brings us to present day where we now have a Resource Specialist team to handle scheduling requests.
As I mentioned above, there is quite a bit of thought and strategy (“science” may have been pushing it) that plays out behind the scenes when it comes to the scheduling of service projects. It is imperative that at the forefront of it all is our customers’ best interests, including special requests and internal deadlines. While some might joke that we should just throw darts at a board of names to figure out who to schedule, I assure that you that we really don’t. In fact, we look at each Statement of Work and scheduling request that comes in to our queue in great detail. From researching the background and history that Consultants may already have with a client, to looking at geographical location, travel, availability, customer dependencies and deadlines; there are a lot of considerations.
At the end of the day, our objective is always the same: to make sure we are looking at the big picture and are doing everything we can to keep our internal and external customers satisfied. Our top priority is making sure the resource(s) assigned to a project are a good match for all parties involved, so the outcome is a successful professional service engagement for our customers. Believe it or not, our customers can help in this process. Here are some things that help us ensure a successful engagement:
- Sign Off. The signed Statement of Work is crucial. It is the only way we can fairly and accurately prioritize requests for services.
- Information. The more details you can provide regarding the project or services, the better. Does a key resource on the project have an upcoming vacation? Are there outside dependencies that will effect when your project can start? Do you have an important internal deadline that you need to meet? All of those things are pieces to the scheduling puzzle.
- Be open-minded. While you may have worked with one Consultant in the past and would like to use them again, we have a full staff of highly qualified resources that welcome the opportunity to work with you!
Streamlining the scheduling process has allowed members of the services organization to focus on other important aspects in the project lifecycle; project planning, managing, and executing. Having a team dedicated solely to resourcing has improved efficiency in scheduling, increased visibility into utilization of the solutions team, and is a key piece of the puzzle for successful project delivery.
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