Internal Resources

One of the consequences of the current financial predicament is cost-cutting and restructure of what's left. Yet like the 'Millennium Bug' context there's no doubt that some organisations have used this exercise to masque better internal control over infrastructure, remove political obstacles, or implement regime change.

At a time of financial difficulty, organisations essentially have to cut costs or raise revenue. Often they have to try and do both together, just look at what UK PLC is trying to do for the economy. Savagely and without discernible results in some cases. However, none of this should be to the detriment of customer quality or service delivery. Often cost-cutting pertaining to human resources means voluntary redundancies and early retirements - 'get them out packages' to be blunt. You hope that the better ones will stay, but that's not always the way it works, particularly in the public sector.

If people are good, they don't have too much difficulty doing what they do somewhere else. That includes raising revenue or delivering value for somebody else. So what can happen is you are left with people that do not qualify for or accept the 'package' for whatever reason, and are pushed into doing other things to cover the holes left by the 'good' others that leave. Are these available resources qualified? Are they capable? Are they even interested and engaged? It is possible that they may not have been particularly good at what they were doing before, so what makes you think they can effectively do this new activity alternatively (or in addition) to what they were doing before?

That's the 'internal resource' argument. Resources (including people) that were there before and need to be used or redeployed productively BEFORE you can seek external support or value-adding capability. And at this challenging point in time, you don't really have the budget to re-train these internal resources either. You hope they are up to it, but as the old adage goes, you can't polish a turd.

In project terms, this is where a project resource is deployed because a senior sponsor insists on or authorises its use thereby compromising on quality, inevitably leading to significant issues and/or sub-optimal project delivery. Post-restructure managers newly in their roles arguably need to get their feet properly under the table to understand available delivery capability and competency, irrespective of cost drivers. They otherwise make rash and problematic decisions. What goes around comes around?

So what can you do about it? Futile protest? Live with it but try to cover yourself? Walk away? Compromising severely on quality contributes to project failures = poor outputs and outcomes, that's a given. Such decisions therefore don't deliver benefits. Unsurprisingly business might not be better, or even as usual...

Comments (4)

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  • 1
    Chris Wainwright wrote on 31st Aug 2011

    A lot depends on the culture and practices of yourself (as a manager) and your organisation.

    Those who leave need to be treated well - clebrate their achievements - have a leaving do - send them forth into the world as ambassadors rather than as enemies.

    This way your organisation and department (project) get the sort of reputation which attracts the right sort of new people (whether internal transfers or external replacements).

    Accept that many people have previously untried talents to offer and that these times provide a rare opportunity to make those personal and organisational changes and to refresh a team or department which has become too stable, too complacent (people who believe they have a position for life) and started to go stale.

    I have been through a few of these recession type "shakeouts" and had to negotiate change for others as well as being affected by redundancy myself - it was painful at the time but in retrospect led both myself and others to make long overdue changes which ultimately worked out for the better.

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  • 2
    Ian Miller wrote on 2nd Sep 2011

    In recent years there have been so many leavers that many departures are unmarked - this is wrong but happens a lot.
    Where projects are pushed deployed becuase a senior manager insists then make sure it is clear to all who is doing the insisting so the blame is properly directed later.

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  • 3
    Steve Boronski wrote on 2nd Sep 2011

    I suppose it comes down, once again, to managers, senior or otherwise, clearly and unambiguously defining things, everything from the process, and resource usage, demand driving deisgn.

    And then when it comes to cuts, no matter how severe or harsh they are percieved to be, at least everyone in your team will know the likely impact, AND you should be able to predict the outcome too.

    Too many managers just blunder on collecting as many people as they can doing all sorts of favours for people without making absolutely clear to all concerned what is to be done and by who. They then start to focus on how things should be done annoying everyone involved.

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  • 4
    Ian Biss wrote on 2nd Sep 2011

    An interesting article. In these trying times it is the managers who can make or break the situation. The best of these remember that management is an art form, not a science and recognise projects and services require resources to be at least effective.

    All to often some managers will panic. Increasing workloads, fudging reorganisations and micro managing in entirely the wrong areas. The new management buzz phrase is 'this is an opportunity', Ahem!

    Often any training budget has already been cut in a prior cost saving initiative, so training an internal resource becomes 'get on with it'. Managers become very reluctant to train staff, particularly in accredited or sort after skill sets, fearing a better offer may come their way. I do know of a few horror stories of bad managers sabotageing staff pursueing accreditation externally to 'career kettle' these useful people.

    The biggest threat to the IT community is senior management ignorance of IT functions. All to easily IT support for an organisation is seen as non-revenue generating and therefore a soft target for cuts. It is a brave (or foolish) senior manager who savagely cuts the function that maintains the mission critical functions of an organisation (regardless of it's business type). They just need reminding....

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