I have a project with a lot of work going on in different domains. Say one domain is Business Process. Each domain has a single manager, for example the Business Process manager. There are lots of other domains in this complex project too, but let's focus on just one to illustrate the problem.

There are lots of business process tasks that overlap across the schedule, and sometimes with gaps of time with nothing going on. For example:

---BP Task 1------
      ---BP Task 2------
           ---BP Task 3------
                                 ---BP Task 4--------
                                        ---BP Task 5--------

I want to allocate the Business Process Manager at 100% time whenever there are ANY business process tasks going on. This is also necessary to get a realistic costing.

I cannot allocate him individually to the tasks, since it would be a nightmare to level his allocation. For example, when one task is one week long, one two weeks, one three weeks, and they overlap in ways that move around as the schedule is modified. To edit his allocation to be 100% on some days on some tasks, 50% on other days between two tasks, and 33% on the days all three tasks overlap would be a nightmare, and much worse to keep it updated whenever any of the tasks moved.

Is there a way to say: "Whenever the following tasks say 10, 20, 30, 55, 80 are going on, the Business Process Manager should be allocated at a 100% level?"

I don't really care what the distribution is across the tasks, since he is a manager working all day long, and will shift his time between any business process work for a given day as any manager would.

I would rather not put all the Business Process work under a summary task and allocate the manager to that, because there are gaps in the schedule without any business process work going on, so the summary task length and therefore the cost would include all those gaps.

  • 1
    Hi LivingInternet, welcome to PM.SE! What's the expected benefit of having this BPM assigned to a series of projects? Having some concrete examples on why you need them might help on defining how to handle the situation. Remember: a project must have management, and may or may not have a manager.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 21:27
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    Multi-tasking is an anti-pattern and 100% utilization is generally a bad idea. While you can level across tasks at an aggregate of 100%, I'm not sure how you're planning to assign (or benefit from) 100% utilization at the task level unless you've broken out all the management work as indivually-assignable tasks.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 13:50
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    In some ways, this seems like an X/Y problem where you have "management functions" that you're looking to roll into technical tasks. The problem is that embiggening a widget is a technical task; what's the management function you're looking to allocate to that? Unless you define the tasks of your management functions within your WBS as discrete items, you will most likely need to allocate your managers to projects rather than specific non-management tasks.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 13:53
  • Hi Folks, thanks for the welcome! As suggested, I added a picture as kind of an example to illustrate the problem. I hope this makes it clearer. Todd: this is one project, 170 tasks, with lots of domains. I understand that 80% utilization is more reasonable, but the core problem is the same. This is a real and common problem. Especially for cost planning, one wants to allocate a manager and capture their costs for whenever their team is working on the project. But dividing up their time among all the BP tasks is not practical. Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


You're describing level of effort type work. For an individual like that, like a manager that bounces around based on demand, I would not load that person's hours against a specific task but rather against its own work package. I am assuming here you are building a performance management baseline. In this approach, this person would have separate codes and would charge those accordingly based on where she spent her time. Instead of loading hours equally across those various projects, you would apportioned time based on her predicted need across those projects, i.e., project A, 10%; project B, 30%, etc. And then capture variances as you progress.

  • Hi David, I added a pic to the original post to show the problem. This is one project, with many domains. From a cost tracking point of view, I find it easier to give managers one cost account for each project. It is not practical for them to enter they worked on 3, 5, or even more work packages of their team during each day. They manage "at the project level". But this is not the issue anyway. The problem is getting a good cost estimate up front. For that, I need to allocate the manager whenever any BP work is going on, so I know how much total time that is. Hope this helps? Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 22:31

From an accounting perspective, this manager is an indirect cost to any other project or workflow that (s)he touches, and therefore I recommend that it should be seen as a separate activity and cost-unit. You might be able to predict how often this manager might interact with projects X, Y, and Z and thereby loosely apportion his costs between them, but I do not believe that it is possible to express that in-advance in a project plan. The actual circumstances which will determine this person's activities and thus his project cost are uncertain and variable.

In the diagram you post, his costs are initially 33% allocated between Tasks 1, 2, and 3. But then, not only their demand but all demand stops briefly. Then, his costs are 50% allocated between 4 and 5. And presumably a short time later he might be juggling five balls at once.

The relative "busy-ness" of the various tasks might be one tool ... whatever causes the tasks to begin and to end, hence the probability that a particular task is now earning costs and what is the proportionate share of the available resource supply (cost) that they could be earning at any moment in time. ("You'd like to have 100% of my time but so would, at the moment, five other tasks ..." etc.)

So, cost-wise, I would allocate him separately, compute the cost of having him on the payroll, and then try to predict how the actual demand-pattern might fall between the projects (s)he's responsible for over the period of interest. The costs will be billed to each "internal customer" as the events actually take place. This person should keep a timekeeping app on his phone at all times.

  • Thanks Mike for the thoughtful answer. This is fair for a functional mgr, working on several projects. For larger projects, top level mgrs are all full time for the time period of their team's work. For example, for a health project I managed, I was full time for a couple years. And the System Engineering Manager was full time for the period of the system engineering effort. However, the SE effort was so large, and so much going on, they could not be allocated to individual tasks. They were "just managing", full time, for that whole period, however long the SE was in the schedule. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 20:05

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