Resources Working on Multiple Projects

It is very common, especially in the Software Development Industry, for the resources to be engaged on multiple projects. This tendency increases as the level and experience of resources increases. So, the debate always has been whether it is a good practice to engage resources on multiple projects simultaneously?

In my opinion, it is a definite No especially for technical resources. As far as Project Managers and Executive Managers are concerned, they have to manage a portfolio of projects therefore it is not an issue for them but for other resources, I don’t like this practice.

For Technical Resources there are two main reasons; Physical and Psychological.

The Physical reason is that to execute the actual work, resources require time to set up their systems and make configurations before they can perform the actual work. Shifting from one setup to another, that frequently, is not only time consuming but risky as well.

The Psychological reason is also similar to the physical. The work requires the resources to focus, plan work and think about the algorithm before he/she can start execution of the assignment. So mentally shifting from one system to another can simply take out the rhythm  that can produce quality work. This is the reason resources lose most of their interest once they are allocated on multiple projects.

So what’s the solution? As I said earlier that this discussion excludes the Project Manager and Senior Executives. I think that the resource should be engaged on a project for a reasonable magnitude of Task or Milestone before moving him/her to some other assignment. This will allow to build a sense of achievement for the resource as well as the Project. 

The main area where most of the Project Managers makes miscalculations is the “Bug Fixing” and “Support” tasks. These tasks are often calculated at some percentage of project and most of the time it is not clearly mentioned in Project Plan. Also the resource originally worked on this task is expected to be involved in this task as well but his/her allocation is mostly kept for multiple tasks at that time assuming that he/she might not be required for these tasks. 

The Project Managers planning proper “Bug Fixing” and “Support” in their projects tend to be more successful especially in resource planning.  

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