Sunday, June 16, 2019

Manage the white space



You've got a team to manage; until you don't
Keeping the team together promotes cohesiveness, intra-team loyalties, and productivity (no investment required to introduce new players and relationships). But, if there's too much slack -- i.e. downtime or "whitespace" --  you might lose your team.

But, keeping you team begs the question: How to keep everyone busy all the time so as to fend off raiders looking for resources?  In the popular vernacular of project management, keeping everyone productively busy means actively managing their downtime, aka 'white space', between and amongst their planned activities.

Whitespace methodologies
In organizations that are aggressively matrix managed, one approach to 'white space' management is to reassign people to another project with the intention of just a short assignment to 'keep them off the overhead' and always on 'billable hours'.  Of course, such practice breaks up the team for a short time so it kind of flies in the face of cohesiveness, team accomplishment, and team metrics.

And, aggressive matrix management assumes the F.W. Taylor model of management science: jobs can be filled by anyone qualified for the job description... interchangeable parts, as it were. In the era of team work where teams recruit their members, Taylorism is an anathema. Thus, aggressive matrix management is likewise seen as anti-team.

That all brings us to another approach -- more popular these days -- which is: manage the white space by managing the team backlog.
  • Make sure that the backlog has all the technical debt and low priority requirements present and accounted for so that they can be fit to the white space opportunity.
  • Develop and maintain a "parking lot" for off-baseline opportunities that might fit in the white space
  • So also bring in mock testing, special event prototyping, and, of course, that bane of all:
  • Maintenance of team records.
What does it cost?
One consequence of managing by teams: the cost is known, predictable, and relatively fixed. Each team has a running cost, and so the total cost closely approximates the sum of the number of teams x the running cost of each.

Affordable value
Of course, is the team affordable? Many PMs are not comfortable with the project staff being a fixed cost. They would much rather have more granular control. I get it, but the here's the main point about cost:
The cost of a project is not its value; in a "good project", value greatly exceeds cost


Buy them at any online book retailer!

No comments:

Post a Comment