In the world of IT, projects have become increasingly complex, requiring more time and expertise in order to be completed successfully. As a result, IT teams are often overloaded with work, and project resources are stretched thin. Inevitably, this means more mistakes, more frustration, more time lost, and more projects that go improperly finished — or not finished at all.

Ian Brady from Steadfast Solutions, a Melbourne IT support company shares his tips for better management of IT projects.

When in charge of an IT team as an IT project team manager, it is imperative that this understanding is realized and that better management strategies are employed in order to give project teams the room they need to execute goals and be successful. Here are the steps you should take to do just that.

Steps to Better Management of IT Project Resources

  1. Assess how many full-time equivalents are on your team.

A full-time equivalent is, of course, a unit used to describe one full-time worker on your staff. If you employ several part-time employees, you can combine the hours they work and divide by the full-time equivalent to get the total number of “full-time equivalents” (or FTEs) on your IT project staff.

For example, let’s say you have two full-time IT workers and six half-time IT workers on your project team. In total, you would have the equivalent of five full-time workers or five FTEs.

  1. Assess how many hours of availability you have to work with.

Now that you know how many full-time equivalents are on your staff, you need to assess how many hours each one is actually available to work throughout each quarter or year.

Let’s assess on a yearly basis to start with.

In the example above with five full-time equivalent workers, let’s say each full-time equivalent was equal to 2080 hours of theoretical work every year. That’s 52 40-hour workweeks.

However, this number isn’t exactly accurate because things like time off for vacations, training, sick time, and more haven’t been factored in. In the end, you may find that each FTE will only be available for added projects 40% of the time.

In this case, you would multiply 40% (.4) by 2080 hours. The resulting amount (832) would be the number of hours that one full-time employee has available for projects throughout the year. So, if you have five full-time equivalents IT project team members on staff, you have roughly 4160 hours of available project time per year (832 hours x 5 FTEs).

This number (4160 hours) can be broken down into annual quarters, months, and weeks. In this situation, you’d have roughly 80 hours of total project hours to work with per week (4160 hours / 52 weeks).

  1. Limit the number and breadth of projects based on these numbers.

Phew! Don’t worry, that’s all the math we’ll be doing today.

Basically, all of these numbers help you because they tell you what you’re working with as a project manager. Instead of wondering whether or not you have enough resources to tackle a project (or overestimating the number of resources you have), you can simply look at these numbers and see for sure.

It is recommended that you keep all project resources below the 80% mark. That is, if you have 80 open hours of work per week to manage with projects and you want to complete a project that will take a total of 80 hours per week, that’s too much.

In this case, you would be using 100% of your project resources. Even though you might be saying to yourself: “Hey, that’s perfect!” it’s actually too much.

Staying below the 80% mark keeps a nice cushion around your IT projects. In other words, maxing out your workload is not a good idea. It allows no room for error and will inevitably cause mistakes to be made, which will lead to delays, further problems, low morale, and failed projects.

Modify Your Project Queue to Match Your Resources

Your workers deserve to have some room to play with when it comes to their project workloads. Effective management of your IT project resources starts with managing the flow of projects and work through your queue.

The goal is not just to push your workers to their limits and attempt to maximize output. The goal instead is to complete projects in-full, on time, and with the most successful and positive results. This means giving your IT project workers more time and better resources.

Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, this is the optimal way to be effective as an IT project manager.