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Several years ago I was in a startup and they explained to us about roadmap growth. That in the first year a startup should earn XXX money and the year after it should be YYY. the increment in money should be Z% between quarters, etc... and this way you can measure, more or less if a company is on the right path.

Nowadays I run a project for a company who has been around for 13 years, so it is doing fine. My project is new in the company - only 2 years - and there is an annoying pattern I have noticed.

  • the company gets more customers
  • The amount of tasks increases
  • I ask for more resources
  • the company is not convinced I need more resources
  • the project experiences a failure to make a deadline due to lack of resources
  • the company gets half the resources I really need.

I think, perhaps the company has a difficulty to assess how many resources this project should have, and the resources we do get always come too little too late.

I would like to find something like a "growth plan" similar to the financial one I saw at the startup but without money. something that will not be as debatable as the process we have now and that will break this vicious unhealthy cycle.

It can be a rule of thumb, or some other model we should follow, but anything will do at this point.

For example - for a social network you will need 1 developer per 1000 users.. this might not be true, but it is a plan to follow. Something that we can measure and decide upon.

My units cannot be money or users (even though I would like to hear answers about them as well, perhaps I will catch the drift and apply it to myself)

My units should be tasks/responsibilities per resources. perhaps man-hours per resources.

and the result should enable us to say "if everything goes according to plan, we will need another resource within the next 2 months.." - and so prepare ourselves and start interviewing beforehand.

EDIT

I have recently heard about the term working capital. I can't exactly understand if it is relevant for this question, but sounds like it should.

If someone can help me understand this it would be great.

  • It sounds like management are just concerned with costs which suggests you should draw up costs associated with not having the extra resource, then go to management and say 'this is the cost of the extra resource but this higher number is the cost of not having the extra resource'. I don't think there's any silver bullet formula. – user16583 Oct 16 '14 at 11:47
  • It sounds like you have got European managers up your vertical. I have worked with many managers and have seen particularly the European management behaving the way you're mentioning. It's an epidemic taking over our industry. – Mugen Nov 10 '14 at 7:25
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I see a conflict here: You think the project needs more resources while management doesn't.

The budget planning here is quite questionalbe, it looks waterfall and top-down. First, I think you have to discuss about XXX, YYY and Z, are they realistic?

"for a social network you will need 1 developer per 1000 users": This is not a good metric to determine how many team members you need. I suggest you the following metrics (that cannot be fit with your project):

  1. Numbers of issues, daily, weekly, by sprints
  2. Time-to-resolved those issues
  3. Which skills that your team is lacking of. (4. And how many team members do you need to solve that)

Based on 3., you can propose a HR enforcement to your management.

Similar to that:

  1. Why are you missing deadlines? What are the root-causes for that?
  2. Can it resolved by adding more members? Or improving skills of existing members?
  3. Can it be resolved by improve the PM's skills -> watch out for that! Ask them for frankly answers and advice.

Lastly, I see that you can solve your issue, slowly by * Negotiate the requirements/deadlines with your management/stakeholders, * Adaptive planning in an Agile way. (to deal with the so-called "growth plan")

Hope this helps.

  • 2
    You answer is the same exact one I would get from management. We could analyze for each scenario exactly what is wrong and decide per case whether more resources are needed or not. but that debate takes a lot of my time. I prefer to give the management a rule of thumb that they can follow and know when new resources are needed. – guy mograbi Oct 13 '14 at 5:12
  • You have to dive into each issues and solve them. When you get trust from your management, things will be more easier. Talking logically to your managements when there is lack of trust to your management would be waste of time. – vuhung Oct 13 '14 at 7:50
  • @vuhung The moment pt. 3 is mentioned the management can always discard the resource crunch issue using pt. 6. It is can be endlessly argued that you can always "improve skills" instead of "adding more members" no matter what your current situation is. – Mugen Nov 10 '14 at 7:33
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Instead of a solid calculation, you could use a demonstration to make your need more transparent.. thus facilitating a conversation that can arrive at an optimum number of man hours.

screenshot of computer model

This is a draft functional model that I made using the specs above.

The Square in the middle (marked OPTIMUM FUNCTIONING) represents a healthy product. The BLUE line in the graph represents that square, going up or down depending on a variety of factors as you adjust the sliders.

Really intuitive. I have the original file if you would like to tinker with it.

Left to right on the graph is the passage of time. The BLUE line is for optimum resources. (The PINK and ORANGE lines are just markers for TOO MUCH and TOO LITTLE.)

  • I will iterate this model if someone has suggestions. I wonder if it's better to flow "lines of code", and "average lines of code" instead of flowing "man hours", which is technically against standard modeling rules. – barry landis Nov 29 '14 at 19:45

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