How do you balance workload and team size?

Organization structure - One word: DENIAL

Over 30 years in IT and the teams have never been large enough to handle workload. That’s where the team leader, in concert with the customer (consumer of the services) comes in – it’s their job to rank, prioritize, and re-prioritize as needed the workload.

22 comments

https://www.pulse.qa

Pulse User

One word: DENIAL

Over 30 years in IT and the teams have never been large enough to handle workload. That’s where the team leader, in concert with the customer (consumer of the services) comes in – it’s their job to rank, prioritize, and re-prioritize as needed the workload.

Pulse User

It is more than just ranking, prioritizing and re-prioritizing needs. It comes down to how much risk is the customer willing to accept with balancing workload, teams and re-prioritizing what they can do. Obviously, investing in technologies to reduce the capacity needed to meet business operations is key. If the current technologies require more workload to meeting the need, then you have to look hard at how much of an investment is needed to reduce that gap between your teams and what they can do.

Pulse User

This is part of our op and strat planning. We link quarterly and yearly objectives to teams/ individual contributors. We prioritize the asks and link them to strategic objectives or business risks. The additional funding or headcount increases are clearly linked back to deliverables and objectives OR leadership has been made aware of the risk and has chosen not to prioritize the ask. All part of being a leader.

Pulse User

Enabling an optimum workforce management is key to achieve a better workload balance and team size. This is a complex subject and requires hours of study and deliberations. At macro level, you need to determine competency of your team members and identify their interest/career path aspirations to map target state competency. You need to create a multi skilled team, which can serve multiple types of workloads basis their availability and bandwidth. The other side of coin is also to closely monitor the productivity of the people who work with you. There has to be a defined KPI against which they have to perform from sLA perspective. Certain deviation is allowed, but they have to be mathematically assessed. If there is a productivity issue, then work closely with the HR to resolve challenges if any. But this is just starting the journey, there is plot more to it

Pulse User

The more people you have on a team the more communication channels you have and the greater margin for error. Breaking up the projects/workload has shown more success in my experience than adding more and more resources. Smaller teams can act and respond more quickly. If your question is around operational activities you need to approach with metrics so you know the point at which quality will suffer without an additional resource. At that point, the business assumes the risk. Best of luck Daniel.

Pulse User

This is a capacity planning problem. I have attached a spreadsheet that is fairly rudimentary, but effective.

Capacity Planning Document

First list all of the projects and activities down the first column (Column A). Then list all of your human resources across the top.

Starting with the first person (in this example, Cheryl Barnard) go down all of the projects and activities assigning how many hours per week she will spend on every item during the quarter.

When you have done this for every person in your group, row 7 will give you the number of hours available (in excess of 40 hours per week), or the number of hours you somehow need to fulfill.

What I do is hire a contractor, or contractors to fulfill the void created by hours needed. This can be done by having the contractor be a “floater” that works/helps with many projects, or you may need to readjust everyone’s work assignments.

When I get to a certain number of contractors (this is situational), I will convert one to a full time employee. Using contractors in this way allows you to terminate a contract, should you need to shrink your workforce. Another advantage is you can mold behavior of contractors with a full time job being the carrot.

If anything is not clear, let me know.

Pulse User

For teams looking to improve their workload and delivery, a key factor is to increase visibility through prioritizing, keeping track of who's working on what and identifying team skills. With the necessary visibility, teams will find that their workloads are not only more manageable but that they can deliver more with the same amount of resources. And with the right understanding on workloads and staffing, a director or manager will be better equipped to justify requests for additional resources. At a more personal level, increased visibility and improved resource management will reduce burnout among your team, helping improve their happiness at the workplace and helping you balance workload and team size while retaining your top talent.

Pulse User

I like this "microservices-esque" approach --> http://blog.idonethis.com/two-pizza-team/

Pulse User

if I will talk about IT market in the middle east, I will say we have to customize and split the workload on the the available team members fairly as much as you, can to avoid any explosion from this high pressure on your team and give them any kind of motivations to push them to finalize the tasks on time, i know this way it will make some pressure sometimes but when you have friendly environment and try to make sometime for fun to clear the stress and refresh your team it will help as well. this plan i will use in case i forced to use the available resources. if I have extra option with enough budget to hire a new member to my team in case this task will continue for long term, I will do that for sure. but if this task will be for short term so in this case the outsource will be the ideal solution with some special conditions.

Pulse User

Our teams scale up or down by using contractors for specific roles/projects. We are also investing heavily in automation. Workload is managed by a tool and it is easy to see when we have more demand than resources so that we can act accordingly.

Pulse User

CA Clarity is what we are using now.

Pulse User

We use inhouse developed work load tool, it gives us visibility on current work load, resourcing and upcoming workloads along with resourcing needs.

Pulse User

For me balancing workload and team size is more than work management and allocating & supervising team’s tasks, setting priorities and timelines, etc. Having 15+ years’ global IT experience in GCC and SEA regions in a multinational environment, I learned different cultures and working styles and could reach to the conclusion that we need a mix of “Science” and “Art” techniques and skills to balance workload with team size. My best checkpoints are; 1- Simplify the processes and integrate with efficient and effective tools. 2- Invest in IT team, elevate their passion, increase and keep updating their technical and soft skills. We need a happy, talented and committed team. 3- And “My Triple-C” Communication ➤ Announce & Convey • Make formal announcements to team & stakeholders. • Convey clear and effective communication. Collaboration ➤ Teamwork & Participation • Build teamwork environment & bond among members. • Encourage team members to participate. • The smoother movement towards targets, increase forward momentum and help teams to overcome obstacles. Coordination ➤ Organize & Planning • Organize the work, team, and stakeholders. • Plan the tasks, priorities, activities and execute effectively.

Pulse User

Firstly, consider your team and the impact of workload on them. Sometimes we can get caught up in our own genius and the fantastic new processes and procedures we can want to put in place, but if your staff are not happy, then you’ll have more significant problems. Ensure they have the capabilities to deliver on your operational goals and the training in place if necessary to achieve your strategic goals. And pay them accordingly… Assuming you have considered the staff needs, then aligning your workload and team size to your operational and strategic objectives and having accurate and repeatable effort estimation in place is fundamental in getting the right team in place at right at the right time. But what does right mean? Ask the CEO and its about having the number of resources to achieve the business goals, ask the CFO, and it’s about the efficiency of cost, ask the IT delivery manager, and it's about having the capabilities and numbers of staff to get the job done without stress. So, How do you balance workload and team size? Well, if there were one lever to pull, we’d all be thrilled, but the truth is it becomes a perpetual exercise that requires skilled managers and business leaders to work with key staff to continually adjust to the business demand as outlined above. I am fortunate enough to have a great delivery partner that allows me a six-week ramp up and down of my resource pool. This capability gives me massive flexibility of who and how I delivery to the organisational needs. My full-time in-country team leads manage our offshore staff, and this model means we can scale quickly to meet changing demands while offering our local team the chance to develop and grow professionally and personally. Balance in any business activity is hard, but with appropriate planning and strategic foresight getting workload and people balanced is achievable, just don’t think it’ll be the same model next week as it is today.

Pulse User

The Challenge particularly in a Not for Profit is balancing the demand with the inability to supply. I have created the "Business Solutions Group" and its purpose is to keep governance and communication with the business at the highest level; 1. Show past activity 2. Show priority based on the governance groups needs, not what we think is the best to do 3. Show forward planning 4. Be honest 5. Manage providers We meet regularly with key stakeholders and they understand constraints, but more importantly the relationship and the management we have put in to this process enables the technology team to succeed. We have moved from a completely reactive group, to a high performing well regarded business and solution focussed group with effective measures and delivery within 12 months. Team leadership plays a significant part with vision, drive and very non technical language speak I believe a balanced team with strong communication and engagement is the key Adrian

Pulse User

Communicating the vision! Collaboration and making everyone realise how important they are in the aim towards the goal. Uplifting teams where required. Swift decision making.

Pulse User

prioritize

Pulse User

Balancing teams and workloads remains a perennial problem.Some approaches that I have used successfully  include 1. Be crystal clear about strategy, priorities and objectives. Engage and gain commitment from teams and stakeholders. 2. Small teams and an agile approach. with Larger teams are typically much less efficient than larger ones. Composition of each team is critical in terms of both skills, capabilities and personality/styles. An agile approach not only motivates the teams but also builds credibility with key sponsors. 3. Leadership is critical in inspiring and motivating  teams to deliver extraordinary results, while being sensitive to individual needs. 4. Develop relationships and leverage delivery partners. With the wealth of opportunities and unmet demand, very few teams have the capability to deliver all that is required.!

Pulse User

I rebalance workloads and team size by having a large portion of my team operating in an Accelerated Agile environment.  This means I upscale and downscale depending on my delivery needs.  Traditionally, IT Departments were BAU operations focusing on maintaining the status quo.  However, with increased pressure to demonstrate innovation, IT departments' clever use of local and offshore contractors becomes critical.

Pulse User

Efficiency, breakdown the workload and assign according to skill sets on the team. Hold status meetings and make adjustments as necessary.

Pulse User

In the engineering / IT teams I work with this will never be possible. Engineering, software, IT... we will ALWAYS be the bottleneck for the rest of the organisation to get things done and make changes. In theory, expanding the team will resolve the bottleneck, in practice it means that more work will be sent our way because our capacity is higher. The answer isn't to balance workload and team size, it's to grow the team as much as possible, constantly, and to ruthlessly prioritise every piece of work so the team is always working on the most valuable thing possible.

Pulse User

Take the emotion away, and ensure your Exec team understands the problem.    This standard annual budget discussion is always the same : "we need more work done" vs "we need to reduce costs".    It's a chicken and egg discssion that can get heated and emotional, and is usually held by you and your Board/Executive teammates.  Teammates being a key point here.    I always start the discussion with how much money we should be spending in the forthcoming years (based on our Strategic Business Plan), and I demonstrate what can be achieved with that level of spend/headcount.  We then all discuss openly what more/less people could deliver.   This drives a behaviour of everyone being supportive in the discussion, rather than the discussion turning into war.   9 times out of 10, the outcome is a few more people are authorised than our Business Plan originally stated,  and everyone being in agreement (supportive) of what "can't" be achieved.    Then, things do change!  As a business, we suddenly need to do something different.  In this case, I work with a trusted development partner (partial outsourcing) to flex headcount,  rather than just contractors.  With this approach, there is atleast some level of continuity in knowledge gained by your "temporary" staff.