People Allocations Management in Targetprocess | Visual Management Software

People Management is a very wide topic, as it touches different activities, from Portfolio Planning and Management to managing a team’s workload. There are many use cases to address and a huge amount of small things to consider, as a tool vendor. We’ve started improving this area in Targetprocess and here are the features, which we plan to implement first:

  • People Allocations Planning
  • Vacations and Days-off
  • Capacity Management

In this article we will cover the feature “People Allocations Planning”, which is currently in development and will be released quite soon.

People Allocations Planning

Working on team allocation is one of the most crucial stages in any project’s lifecycle, as it likely determines future success. Understanding past performance and how team members interacted helps program and portfolio managers create a better plan focused on future success.

This feature will give us a possibility to plan people allocations on projects, taking into account their current and planned allocations, and see if any conflicts may happen. We will be able to specify what people - teams and individuals - are required for a project, how long we need them for and what % of their total working hours they can be available, and therefore visualise and manage possible over- or under-allocations.

Note: Here we talk only about a possibility to plan people allocations on projects, not taking into account how much work people may currently have or will have to complete in every project.

Project Planning

Let’s imagine we have a new project “Chocolate Factory”, which we need to plan activities for. It should be started in a month and we plan to complete it by the end of the year, so that we have plenty of chocolate by Christmas.

Let’s assume that we know how many and what people - teams and individuals - we need for this project, so that we can plan people allocations, specifying for how long we need each person and team, and what % of their total work time they should be available on our project. Let’s say that we need 2 development teams - Alaska and Utah - full time (100%) for the whole project duration, 1 designer will be needed full time in the beginning and only for 25% of his time when the project moves into development phase, and 1 PM half time for the whole project duration.

We can create and visualise all the planned people allocations on a timeline view where projects are selected as lanes and people allocations are selected as cards.

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Thus, once we have started planning people allocations on a project we can easily see if the newly created allocation is in conflict with any existing allocations this person or team may have, and what projects we do conflict with. In our example we can clearly see that Alaska and Utah teams will be overloaded during a period of time, if we start projects as planned.

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Here we have a choice to either look for other people/teams to work on our project or shift the project in time, to avoid conflicts.  We’ve decided to shift our project in time and start it later. There is risk we won’t have chocolate for Christmas, but if we overload our people in the first place, we risk to not have anything for Christmas, not even the turkey.

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Now there are no more conflicts and teams and people can move from one project to another without stress. Software with such project management features can be of great help, especially for those companies that have distributed teams.

Forecasted people overload

As Targetprocess allows to forecast a project’s possible completion date based on the linear velocity and progress, we can see possible overload and conflicts resulting from some projects taking longer than originally planned, and therefore people stuck on these projects, while they have planned to move to another project already. On the example below we see that our Chocolate Factory project is delayed and both teams are going to be overloaded as they planned to start working on the next project from November 2015.

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The same information can also be made visible when you plan a project roadmap. Whenever you plan a project in time or a project is delayed and it leads to people overload, you’ll see the conflict time areas of your project highlighted.

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Hovering a mouse over the red area you’ll see who exactly got overloaded as a result of current project planning and progress.

People Availability

Very often we need to answer the question ‘Whom can I invite to work in my next project?’ or ‘Who may become available at a given moment of time?’. We could answer this question by creating a visualisation where our people - teams or individuals - are selected as lanes and people allocations are selected as cards in those lanes.

AllocationsOverload

Here we can easily see if someone is accidentally overloaded or might be overloaded soon, as well as get an understanding who will become available soon for working on a new project.

On the example above we can see that Lambda Team has conflicting allocations in May, and is loaded for 120% in total. Alaska Team is 100% available starting from September though, so we can allocate them to a new project and start it in September 2015.

The same view is available for individuals. Here we zoom in to see more project details on cards.

People Availability

Allocations can be updated straight from this view via context menu:

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It is worth noting that people management in Targetprocess accounts for moving deadlines and delays in project start dates. People allocations start/end dates can be tied to the start/end dates of a project when we need people for the entire project duration. Initially they are tied to the project’s planned start/end dates, later when our project has been started, all allocations will become tied to the project’s real start date and will be shifted for the project’s delay. For example, if we planned to start a project a month ago, but started it only now, all the planned people allocations will be shifted for 1 month and will be tied to the project’s real start date. It will allow to quickly get all the allocations updated according to reality.

Next steps

Here are some ideas we’re considering for future implementation, and we would really like to know what you think about them and whether you need them at all:

  • A possibility to create work allocation plans with ‘dummy’ people on a project, i.e. providing information about how many teams and people in which roles you need on a project without assigning specific people (Targetprocess users) to it. It would allow to overview whether you need more people or more projects in future based on the number of people you have available.
  • Connect team and individual allocations. Right now when you create a team allocation, it doesn't affect allocations of people in this team, so this functionality would allow to automatically create/adjust personal allocations once we have changed/added allocations for a team.
  • Team Participation: for cases when a person works in a team only part-time, we can specify a “team participation” for a person, e.g. that someone is allocated 30% of her/his time in this team. In this case (s)he’ll have allocations via team created for based on this %.
  • See people allocations on a person/team/project views.

 

We look forward to your feedback!