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Archive for 2011/08/19

Calculating the need for resources

2011/08/19 2 comments

Most of us need to calculate the need for resources but the question is what you calculate.

One thing you can calculate is how much resources you need to complete a task. The first question is of course what do you mean by completing a task. If you’re working with software development, is it the coding, or does it include all the things you need before and after the coding (branching, getting to know the code, writing tests, merging, validating test environment) and does it include stuff that other people do. Another question is if you say something takes 10 days, do you mean 10 days of actual work or do you mean days between you start with a task and when you end the task, the latter concept is what we call Duration in Microsoft project.

In other words you need to know
* The definition of done
* Decide if you calculate Duration or Work

The next thing is that you need to start thinking about the difference between cost of delivery and cost of creating. Lets say you have a task which takes 40 hours of hard labor to complete. Lets say your resource actually completed the task in 40 hours. But chances are great that he will bill you more than 40 hours. People take breaks, the help other resources with their tasks, they do other stuff. Do they report these side things on your project? You bet! Imagine the opposite! Two resources are working on different tasks but on the same project. First one of the resources want a second opinion from his team mate. So he strolls over and they talk things over for 15 minutes. Would you want all resources keeping track on stuff like that. This is one of the reasons we want team rooms but it also gives us a situation when tasks cost more than the cost of their delivery.

As we are budgeting our projects, I must surely keep this in mind. In my budget, I must take into consideration that this happens so even if I use the scenario that 60% of time is spent on tasks, I need to calculate that they work 100% anyway. So I need to take into consideration:
* The number of hours tasks take
* The number of hours tasks bill the project

In other cases, thing become more complicated. Take the product owner role. That person should sit 100% of his time with the team but he doesn’t have to work 100% on project tasks. He can do other stuff in the team room (as long as he can be pulled from these tasks whenever someone needs help and that the other stuff doesn’t bother the other team members). If you do have a product owner who works 100% in the project that is perhaps more of a warning sign: you might have a product owner proxy or someone who’s not involved in everyday business work.

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Our magical memory

When we say that we recall, I guess that we take for granted that memories are like goods in our warehouse, and when we recall a memory, it’s like our brains go and grab those memories in the warehouse. But as we can see from research (again, see the book Brainrules for some references) every time we access a memory, we change it. Sometimes slightly and sometimes very much. And when you think more about it, it do make sense.

My husband and I met 20 years ago and some of the memories one of us tell someone, they get to hear over and over again when we meet new people. What has is some instances happened is that the memory has been shared so many times that the main caracter change. Just this summer I heard my husband share an old memory not once but twice with some new friends. The problem was that it was not his memory but mine. Over the years, the story has become as much part of his history as mine. It is almost like our memory works like a whispering game where the story changes for each person who’s ears the story goes through.

It is also so strange what sticks to our memories. I’ve a good memory for odd details (pestering my friends with weird facts all the time) and numbers. I can still recall my grand mothers phone number even if she’s been dead for many years. My husband and my son share the habit of not remembering names of people but it’s so strange. My son can have known someone for years and still don’t recall their names but he knows all the names of all the Bayblades and he can even recognize a recognize and know the name of a Bayblade in the store. Some things are probably more interesting to remember than other.

Categories: Agile