Finding the Balance

John Proctor

As Jeremy mentioned in this blog post last week, one of the most challenging parts of a Product Manager’s job is prioritizing the work.  Dave Link, ScienceLogic CEO, has often quipped, “There is no shortage of great ideas!” I have found this is indeed the case.  Rarely a week goes by when someone doesn’t share a cool idea for an enhancement or new feature.  Unfortunately, we are like everyone else in that we have a finite amount of resources to get work done. blog-201604-sciencelogic-project-management-blog In the Thunderdome, the product managers work together to best allocate the resources we have; all the while mentioning how we could always use more.  We pit projects against one another based on metrics like total addressable markets, revenue and customer impact, level of efforts, and resource availability.  We also must consider feedback from stakeholders like executives, engineering, support and our customers.  Although we know it is impossible to give everyone what they want, we strive to find the right balance between building new capabilities, enhancing existing functionality, fixing bugs, refactoring and paying off technical debt. For when it is all said and done, resource allocation is a zero sum game.  When you assign resources to one project, those resources are no longer available to work on another project.  During the PM Thunderdome we battle it out to find the right balance between all the competing priorities.  All the while knowing that each time a project wins and resources are aligned we instantly have fewer resources remaining to work on everything else. I often refer to our resources as “one pizza.” You can decide how big of slice to cut, how many slices to cut and how many slices each person gets, but you can’t change the fact that you have only one pizza.  If you cut more slices then each slice gets a little smaller but you can give a slice to more people.  If you cut fewer slices then each slice gets a little bigger, but there are fewer slices to go around.  In reality, it is a little more complicated than slicing pizza because all the slices are not the same and all the people wanting pizza need different portions. Some projects are larger than others and the resources all have different skill sets.  But regardless of how you slice it, it is a fixed amount of pizza; one.  And if you are thinking there might be some leftovers that you can save for another days, then you clearly have not had the pleasure of attending a ScienceLogic pizza party where there are never any leftovers! sciencelogic-project-management-blog-2

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  • Is this pizza from Denmark? I don’t know anyone but the Danes who put corn on their pizzas.