Resource planning and internal projects – planning for success

January 16, 2020

Niki Saukolin

How to increase internal project’s success rate?

Have you ever been in a situation where an important internal project is put on hold because an invoiceable project is given priority? I’ve seen this happen hundreds of times. Internal projects are kicked off with much fanfare, but because “customer is king” these projects are left on the wayside and they ultimately lose momentum. This is only logical, after all, customers ensures that the lights stay on. Paradoxically though, many internal projects would probably end up benefitting the very same customers in the long run and potentially provide a competitive advantage for your company in the future.

Let’s take a moment to think about this. Imagine that you are working in a business services company that has been growing very fast. While your company has gone from 60 to 150 employees the order books have been full and all time has been spent working on invoiceable work. Ad hoc tools have been created to address management needs for information, and some processess have been implemented in principle. It is challenging to have a good overview of where you are today, and where you are going to be in a couple of months time. Increasingly often there are fires that need putting out, customers may be less satisfied than before and life in general is stressful. The most challenging part is that there seems to be little time to implement change, and the atmosphere suffers. In hindsight it is clear that it would have been better to start implementing change early on, but now you are where you are. What should you do?

There is of course no easy answer. However, I would argue that effective resource planning is certainly part of the solution and can help edge your way out of the situation described above.

Start by making sure that you have the resources to get things done. In this regard, I’m a strong advocate for having internal projects placed in the same planning system as customer projects. I see that the companies that do this have a leg up on the ones that don’t, but gladly this is not that difficult to fix.

Prioritizing Internal projects and planning the work using the same system used to manage customer projects will increase the odds of important internal projects being successful, because it will keep these projects constantly visible and put the relative distribution into perspective.

Once allocation of time and resource becomes more clear come the next steps critical to any successful project – clear project scope and timeline, a project manager who has responsibility and accountability, well thought through method and plan for executing the project, and enough management attention (if it’s not worth management time, is it worth doing?).

In the end though, the most important thing is to get started. Allocating a minimum amount of time for internal projects as a “cost of doing business” measure is key. Getting started and making steady progress, even if the progress may be slow at times, will get you there more certainly than trying to get too much done too fast.

About the author

Niki Saukolin

Niki is the head of business development at Promineo and a software industry veteran with over 20 years of experience working with enterprise customers.

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