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Let's say that we have a team of twenty, and each of them tracks their time on tasks.

They have a manager who doesn't track time on tasks because his job is to support the team, regardless of what task, plan, mentor and attend meetings. It's not reasonable to allocate his time to tasks.

We calculate the utilization rate for the team by dividing the number of hours they tracks on tasks by the number of hours they logged to payroll. Right now a rate above 50% is good.

If we include the manager in the team utilization, it brings the utilization rate down. This is correct because too many managers to non-managers should yield a poorer utilization. The manager is "dead weight" to the utilization calculation.

In theory a manager can come on board (bringing 8 hours of dead weight per day) but take care of minutia on behalf of the team, this increasing their aggregate tasked hours by more than 8.... a net positive.

This method fails when the manager is sick, or leaves early... or logs fewer payroll hours for whatever reason. If he is sick, then the team sheds 8 hours of "dead weight" but doesn't feel a long-term impact on their own productivity because he was only sick for the day.

How do you account for his time then, when calculating utilization?

I am considering giving him a "free weight" which is equal to the average task hours across the team, then weighted by the ratio of managers to non-managers on team.

Therefore if the team logs an average of 4 hours, then the manager will get 4 * (20/21) = 3.81 hours for free. The result is that the manager always brings down the overall utilization of the team by some margin (so his impact can be visualized on a time-series), and his absence brings it up by a similar margin (but spikes are less severe).

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It's all a matter of perspective- the manager IS doing tasks, things that contribute to the success of the project deliverables, but not on tasks that appear in the task list.

One pragmatic way would be to add a task of "Covering all the management stuff" requiring 8 hours per day and then the manager's time would not be invisible. Another way would be to add individual tasks that the manager has to take care of, but that would quickly become a) a PITA and b) impossible as your go down the task granularity curve and also begin to realise that many such tasks are unplanned and are ad hoc responses to current situations as they arise, i.e. unforeseeable (not nonetheless apparent).

Once you start to account for the manager's time, you then have to figure out what is the "right" amount of time to be spent on "intangible" management (i.e. management spent on facilitating the project not on actual deliverables) and estimation of that is more of an art than a science (just like "planning" how much time to spend on bug-fixing in the future)

Ask the PM, in advance, how much PM time is required on the project, and then get them to track their actuals against that forecast just like any other :)

  • I can simply credit the manager with 8 hours... but I don't feel that this is correct. Having more managers should have an impact on the utility of entire team... otherwise the metric implies that we should always hire more manager. – Matthew Dec 16 '13 at 16:35
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    Isn't the real point that you are failing to include the manager's tasks in the metric? Why do you not see the manager's tasks as part of the work of the team? Either it is, in which case include that in the metric, or it is not in which case you cannot then include the manager in the headcount- you are mixing your methods aren't you? – Marv Mills Dec 16 '13 at 19:04

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