What can I do to start dedicating people full-time to one project?

April 1999 Quick Tip

In the last Quick Tip we described the waste associated with splitting a person between product development projects. This time we promised you help in achieving dedicated staffing.

Starting with the difficulties arising from not dedicating people, concentrate on your next opportunity to dedicate a developer. Many companies are now dedicating their design engineers. If so for you, then where is your next project role that could benefit from full-time attention? A manufacturing engineer? Marketing? A tester?

Clarify your concern about not dedicating this individual. A common concern is that you just can’t spare the person. But maybe you could do it just once on an especially critical project.

Maybe you fear that the person won’t be kept busy. Here the trick is to expect this person to operate as a generalist when needed. Also recognize that some of the value of dedication is in allowing the individual to occasionally have a break so that she looks ahead to anticipate problems, rather than always reacting.

Perhaps your people seem too specialized or highly paid to dedicate to just one project. My response is that the benefits in efficiency and accountability are so great as to probably overcome these disadvantages.

To get started, think of doing this once as an experiment. Pick the person who is most able to succeed, both in being a generalist and in working proactively in critical areas whenever he would otherwise be idle. Because this is an experiment, record the results — metrics of what you can measure and anecdotes for softer observations. Then decide what you learned and how you want to extend the concept and institutionalize it.

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.