This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Multi-Project Management and Organizational Effectiveness IV -- Multi-tasking multiplies time to complete projects. -- In environments where full utilization of peoples’ time is valued, there will usually be time-sheets to fill out, or measurement and reward systems -- formal or informal -- that drive people to keep busy. In addition, in such a situation, projects are usually launched with an eye to making sure that no one is starved for work. As a result, there are usually plenty of choices of things for everyone to work on. With many active projects expecting progress, there is pressure to work on several at one time, splitting one’s time and attention across them. Unless an effective multi-project management system provides clear priorities for resource attention, people will strive to make the “measurement” look good by keeping busy and keeping several balls in the air. This is multi-tasking -- working on several significant pieces of work simultaneously, switching between them before any one is completed and before it’s output is handed off to the next task in the project.
What happens in this situation is that, as a result of trying to make sure that everyone is always fully utilized (a seemingly efficient means of controlling costs), the time it takes to convert a task input into an output that is usable by the next task is expanded by the time it sits while another project gets the attention. In addition, the context switching cost -- the time involved in the question, “Where was I?” when returning to a set-aside task -- adds to the actual work time, adding further inefficiencies to the project. Throughput associated with these projects is lost as their completions are delayed beyond when they could have been achieved.
Resource efficiency is not necessarily organizational effectiveness. By striving to be “efficient” through high local resource utilization -- by striving for cost control through avoiding “wasted” idle resources throughout the organization -- the real objective is sub-optimized. Throughput of completed projects and their benefit -- paid invoices, improved processes, or new products that will ring new cash registers -- associated with those completions is threatened, lost, or delayed.