Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Resource Management Versus Communication

IntelliGantt started out with a focus on communication. We felt this was the most underserved piece of the project management market, especially since everyone is more or less connected now. However, while communication is great, we're getting feedback from users that they need a few 'traditional' tools. The one we're thinking about right now is Resource Allocation.

Now, just so you know, in my opinion no one has really solved resource allocation problems to date-- and that's just for resources working in a single organization. Throw in the fact that IntelliGantt can work across firewalls and with ad-hoc contractors and I don't think TeamDirection will be able to solve it either. In fact, there is a certain class of problems computers just don't do very well, if at all. One of them is keeping track of every hyperlink in the World Wide Web and making sure nothing points to a broken URL. And the other is resource allocation for tasks performed in a physical world. There's probably a few others :)

This is not to say one can't try to dump millions of users, billions of tasks and trillions of assignments in to a giant 'ultimate solution' database and cross reference everyone's allotted tasks, level of effort and calendars and synchronize all updates. It's just that it will never happen. It's too complex a problem set and as a result is easily (almost comically) broken by Rule Number 1: Stuff Happens. Instead of the proverbial butterfly in China, it will be sedentary Joe down the hall who gets sick, neglects to update his tasks and sets off an unforeseen chain of events resulting in the next blackout of the Eastern Seaboard.

Is it so awful to pick up the phone, or nowadays send an IM? Is it realistic to schedule someone so precisely that 39.93 hours are planned per user across 7 projects with 99.9% level of effort efficiency? This sounds a lot like what airlines have been trying to for the past few years with their airplanes. What do you think the human equivalent is for sitting on a tarmac 8 hours-- buckled in your seat? In the airlines case I'd wager that the proposed schedules were proven to be mathematically correct only to bow under the weight of our culumative randomness.

So which costs more? Creating an environment for a single project manager to schedule and level resources in utopia, or an environment that fosters communication allowing the group to self-balances with the aid of a project manager? I think one looks prettier at the start, but the other is more likely to adapt.

That being said, TeamDirection will strive to bridge both worlds and you can expect more resource allocation features in the near future. But remember those communication pieces-- they just might prevent the next blackout, or at least keep you off the tarmac.

No comments: