How to Scale Up Now Without Laying Off Later
The good news: New business was awarded increasing your project scope. Now you just need to figure out how to effectively scale up quickly without laying off later or being faced with idle resources.
Customers, as well as the business, want projects done on time and within budget. Additional resources will help you hit your launch date but too many can leave the business with a workforce it can’t sustain in the long run. After the project is completed, can these resources be re-assigned? What about the costs of rising unemployment benefits following layoffs? How will the remaining team members feel after some of their colleagues are gone following a project end?
It’s important to strategize how you will scale up your project in the early stages. Taking the opportunity to re-assess and optimize your current resources will prevent issues later on when the project grows and becomes more complex.
In my experience, when HR works closely with the operational teams, the end results have a greater chance of success. When I work with our clients or internal project managers, one of the first questions we analyze is what immediate actions can we take now to maximize our existing resources.
Is the work evenly distributed among the team?
Before even considering growing the team, assess whether the work is distributed evenly among them. In the early stages of the project, it may not seem obvious that certain resources may have too much work assigned to them. Meanwhile, other resources are sitting idly by waiting for work to come their way. Perhaps there is an underlying issue that is causing work to fall onto one resource. Review your project plan to correct any issues and redistribute the workload.
Are you increasing cross-functionality within your resources?
Resources are typically assigned to projects because they possess a particular skillset that is required to get the job done. Is there an opportunity to pair a resource with another? Pairing will help another resource grow their skillset. This is a win-win scenario for both the resource and the business. It makes the resource easier to reassign to another task or project later. Consider performing a team-wide skills assessment review. Maybe someone has been taking a training class or studying for a certification you don’t know about on their own time.
Can you optimize the team structure?
How is your team structured? If your team was structured differently, can it manage the increase in project scope? Sometimes you have all the resources you need if the team was structured a little differently. Adding resources does not necessarily mean making teams bigger. Perhaps creating additional smaller teams and giving them a joint goal may be more effective in maximizing your existing resources.
As with any project, the focus of the project manager is the end result. You want to successfully deliver a project on time and within budget while meeting and exceeding your customer’s expectations. To achieve this, sometimes scaling up your resources may be a necessity. But before you do, taking steps to ensure your existing resources are at their full potential and building cross-functionality within your team will go a long way to prevent over-hiring. Scaling your team doesn’t necessarily mean hiring new people!