Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

“Project Focused Hours” Per Week?

Posted by iammarchhare on 10 June 2009

Most places I’ve worked have had 75% – 80% of a developer’s time for projects.  80% of a developer’s or engineer’s time was actually quite reasonable at one large company I was at.  However, one place I worked had so many meetings that it seemed I was lucky to get 60%!

Steve McConnell writes on his Software Best Practices blog 10x Software Development in an article “Industry Benchmarks About Hours Worked Per Week”:

Based on what we see in our consulting practice, I think it’s rare to average 6 hours per day of truly project-focused work in a non-startup company. The most common distraction from project-focused work we see is time spent supporting prior releases that are in production.

You know, that to me just indicates either they are releasing bad software or just aren’t planning in enough transition time.  The last place I worked had a “warranty” phase that the project went into once deployment occurred.  It was often 2 weeks long, and time was allocated for developers, DBAs and anyone else that might matter.  That would take care of the last problem.

How do you fix the first problem?  What if the software is just crap?  Well, you have to answer “Why is it crap?”  The answer is likely to be one of the following:

1. You inherited crap.  Crap in, crap out.  The only ways out are replacement or remediation.  If this truly is your problem, it is time to bargain with the ones who hold the purse strings to let you loose on it.  If you truly have inherited crap, it should be easy to show it is crap and it should be easy to show an ROI.

2. Your staff is undertrained in some areas.  I think the solution is obvious.  Again, you probably can show an ROI for this one.  If nothing else, you should be able to show how much you are spending in extended warranty above and beyond normal.

3. Someone on your team would be happier doing something besides programming.  If you are the resource manager, then it is your job to identify these people and make them happier by being somewhere else.  I’m not trying to be mean, but the fact is that they will never achieve greatness, they will always have lousy job performance reviews, they (hopefully) won’t get promoted and if they stay no one, not even they, will be happy.

If you are a project manager, you may have to tactfully bring some of these things to light.  Pound on the ROI, though.

If you are a resource manager, then hopefully you are aware of this before the project manager says something.


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