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Customer wanted to re-prioritize activities and move them up the schedule. This will result in some tasks being carried out in parallel. To avoid over-allocating my resources, we have recommended to add one more resource and since this is a change from our original approved schedule and activities, we will charge the customer the additional resource.

However, they are telling us that it shouldn't be the case, since basically we have the same scope and the overall project schedule will actually now be ahead by 8 calendar days due to the parallel activities. Since I’m quite new with PM, I can't explain why this is not the case.

This is a service management project, not software development. The original plan is to run the activities/phases sequentially, but the customer wanted to prioritize activities in phase 2 to align another project with the results of our project. Now, this alignment is something that was not communicated during the RFP and bidding process.

We can't pause phase 1 completely as phase 2 activities are dependent on some outputs from phase 1 thus, phase 2 will start when about 50% of Phase 1 has been completed. This will mean that my resources will have to do 2-3 tasks in parallel and to avoid the severe over-allocation, we will now add 1 resource. Still, the current resources will still have to work on 2 parallel activities.

What are the factors considered here and why shouldn’t the 8 days be considered as ‘saving’ and should instead be used to cover the cost of the additional resource as our customer is telling us?

My lead consultant is telling me about risks, opportunity costs, contingency, etc. but it’s not very clear to me. This is a fixed engagement btw, not T&M.

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Normally, if you reprioritize or reschedule tasks to be started immediately, you need to interrupt and postpone current activities. This inevitably incurs overhead. Your client needs to understand that changing plans isn't free.

In a fixed contract, you will have calculated some buffer for unforeseeable changes, but this buffer isn't there to be used up by "arbitrary" client requests.

Your client should realize that in a fixed contract they can prioritize feature requirements, but the project manager is responsible for scheduling activities and allocating resources to meet these requirements.

If your contract allows the client to throw a monkey wrench into the gears while still expecting you to keep your commitment regarding completion schedule there's something broken about the contract...

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Simplistically, what your customer is telling is you is not illogical. If you bring tasks forward to complete, causing an increase in cost burn secondary to an additional resource, it follows logically that you should be able to reduce a resource in the second half of the project, thus netting out a breaking even. If you have two employees across the PoP, if you bring tasks forward, then you have three resources in the first half and one resource in the second half, netting two employees.

This is your customer's point of view and it is not totally invalid. What you need to show across the new performance baseline is if you can realistically reduce staff in the second half of your project. You load resources not only as labor turning wrenches but also based on the knowledge and skills that labor brings. So it could mean that you cannot reduce your employee load on the project simply because of the knowledge base you require to complete those services. So while some scope has disappeared in the last half of the project, you may still be stuck with the same employee load and there is nothing you can realistically do about it.

Your best approach is to simply replan your project based on the movement of those tasks, load resources that you need, and calculate the costs. There might be some savings or it might come out costing more for the customer. But you need to build your case as if you're planning the project for the first time. Let the math do what math does.

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What kind of project? In software development projects it's very common to reprioritise frequently and to parallelize activities. Scheduling and critical path analysis is usually counter-productive when it comes to software projects.

The client has a valid point that, depending on the nature of work and the approach being taken, changing priorities won't necessarily impact cost or duration. Adding people to the team doesn't necessarily affect project cost either - it may just help you get more work done in parallel. On the information given I don't see how you have a case for charging the client extra given that the scope is unchanged. Much depends on the kind of work and the contract terms.

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