My projects suffer from resource theft.

I was taken aback by the above comment from someone on a recent project management course. The group had been discussing project management problems and RESOURCE THEFT was mentioned.

The group listened as the course participant explained that he would be working on a project and then all of a sudden a project resource (a person) would be taken away to work on a project that is ‘more important.’  This happens all to frequently according to this person. When asked about the consequences of this on his project he mentioned that delivery dates would not be met.

This was not simply one individual saying this. There were several others in the project management training course who said it has happened to them. So, we  looked at ways of managing this process:

  • complete a change request form – as someone suggested, this is a change to the project and should be managed as one; with the sponsor signing the chnage request
  • if this is common practice or history suggests that this could well happen again then put this on to the risk log – specifically raising this with the project sponsor before it happens
  • one person suggested it is the job of the project manager to manage issues such as this which means developing skills still further especially with resource allocation (this did not go down too well in all quarters)
  • educate your senior managers/sponsor on project management generally and specifically of the impact of any changes before they happen – see next point
  • create a priority project list. This would ensure everyone is clear about what the priorities of the project are – but it would not mean thefts would stop…it could act as a mechanism though for discussions and debate
  • One person suggested that they should put their head above the parapet – something we had spoken about earlier in the project management course

This is not the first time this topic has come up on one of our project management training courses. It is however it’s the first time anyone has used the words ‘resource theft!’

What are your suggestions for dealing with this issue or even preventing it from happening?

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2 Responses to My projects suffer from resource theft.

  1. Gary Vunovich says:


    After reading your comments I started recalling all the projects that I managed last year as s federal government contractor that I had to ultimately put my foot down… and after weeks and months of pushing all the management buttons I could possibly (without getting marched out the door) I ended up having to place ‘ON HOLD’ – In Abeyance.

    RESOURCE CONTENTION (a/k/a THEFT) was a constant battle I spent way too much time having to run around and ‘politicize’ my way through things to get things done. It was a ‘govie’ sort of mentality for which I had to learn in order to keep my job for 3+ years.

    I was nicknamed and referred by the ITS federal Director as the ‘BULLDOZER’. Yet the insufficient resources and lack of project CHARTER AND APPROVED FUNDING that lead me to have to become a ONE MAN wrecking crew and construction manager to get the job done.

    Now because the government has no money to continue to support my position I’m approaching six months on Unemployment. I’m without a JOB because I did what I did despite the resource constraints.

    Shame on ME. /:( I’ll know better the next time. IT falls under the LESSONS LEARNED catagory of the Post Mortem section in the RESOURCE THEFT portion of the RISK MANAGEMENT section of the project plan… that never existed.

    • Gary, this is an interesting tail…..many thanks for the openness.

      My guess…yes, it is a guess, is that if you had not done what you had done, you would at some time or other had the finger pointed at you saying: why haven’t you delivered? In the circumstances you describe…how could you? Let’s hope someone out there can spot you and fast!

      Many thanks Gary.

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