January 16, 2007
Prioritizing work tasks
Setting priorities is a constant effort at work. One person commented that "Resources" should not be setting their own priorities. But in every job I've been in, resources do set their own priorities, because invariably they get pulled in many directions, working for many different project managers or are involved in several 'teams' working with others and have obligations to those purposes as well as the projects they have for their own boss. Let's say your Project is to build a house. One of the resources that have to be scheduled for your project is an electrician and another one is a sheet-rock taper. These people don't usually work on just one house and you as a project manager probably don't oversee those other projects they work on. So you are stuck with the priorities these resources make. They may not always make good decisions about their priorities. But they still prioritize what they have to do. So how do you influence resources outside of your direct influence, especially when you want them working on your project and they are pulled in another direction that's taking too much time? I haven't figured this one out yet. Obviously you want to have someone help that person balance their workload and be able to help you get your project done on time. But wanting isn't enough. It seems that with some resources, whoever screams the loudest gets their project worked on first and the resource gets frustrated and everyone gets mad at the resource. It would be nice to have an 'ober-project manager' that oversees all projects and helps make sure the resources are being well used and that their workload is evenly distributed so they can meet the needs of all of the projects they are working on. But too often there is no such person, especially since each project manager is given a project and told to run with it, and they have no influence on the other projects going on that use the same resources. There may be a department manager, but they shouldn't be putting everyone on the same level either by directly managing the priorities of the resources and the project managers. Besides, some of those resources are outside of the department. Like the Electrician. I think where this is leading is that a strong project manager with a performance goal would eventually look for and find resources that can get the job done when it needs to be done. But then again, the project manager is often told which resources can be used for a given project. They may be screwed before they even start. Obviously any Project Manager with a performance goal would choose the most effective resources if they had a choice. And any resource with a strong work ethic theoretically wouild also would want to be on the teams with the best track record for producing results. Do you think? And those resources have to be good at prioritizing their work to be able to handle that kind of team.
I'm still thinking about how often resources prioritize their own work. It happens a lot. Is it a good idea? Maybe not in the short term, for getting your project done, but in the long term, they will get better at prioritizing and they will produce some good results. Provided that the resource actually cares.
Posted by carl1236 at January 16, 2007 9:58 PM | PM
Resources are people. They self select priority.
Some that cause the most safety, peace, and humble service are placed low.
This may not be right.
Posted by: sean at February 23, 2007 10:03 AM
Yes, people do self-select priority, but that doesn't mean they do a very good job at it, especially when pulled in many directions. We have a lot of good people working with us, but there is a dilemma when a project deadline comes up and it can't be met because a person (resource) made other things a higher priority. Then it's like dominos.
I think it's better to have people select their own priorties and be able to use creativity in how they accomplish their tasks. But I also think that it would be beneficial to better train people working on project teams to understand what makes things higher priority than others. And set up some relief valves to smooth out the workload so it's not like a roller coaster, too busy one day and not at all the next. I don't think many people really like missing deadlines, and I think they would choose not to miss them if they knew how to solve this problem.
Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the input.
Posted by: John at February 26, 2007 11:06 PM