Posted by: kerrywills | May 23, 2014

The math doesnt work: 2 resources at .5 allocation DOES NOT equal 1 FTE

In this world of shared services, matrixed organizations and reductions in cost, project resources are becoming increasingly fractionalized. This means that critical people for projects are spread across many different projects. Every experienced project manager knows that two resources allocated at 50% each is not the same thing as having one person allocated at 100%.

The math doesn’t work: .5 + .5 < 1

The result of part time allocations is that resources get pulled onto other priorities, can’t make meetings, and get overwhelmed. Unfortunately this is very common today and probably won’t change so I won’t even suggest that the solution is as easy as “just get dedicated resources.”

The best that we can do as Project Management professionals is to focus in two areas:

  1. Diligence: Stay close to the progress of the work and the plan to identify when key resources are at risk of missing dates or need help in escalations. This will also identify when additional resources may be needed.
  2. Consultative Skills: Having skills in influencing and negotiation will help to obtain the resources that you need and persuade the fractionalized resources to support your priorities.

Working with fractionalized resources is difficult and therefore PM’s need to step up our game around how we manage our work in response.


  1. Thanks for sharing Kerry – this is so true. I’ve found that inefficiencies of splitting a single unit of work among multiple people vary between situations and individuals. The PM is critical to monitoring progress and helping the team by influencing the prioritization and helping to identify options to move forward. In addition, it is important for the PM early on in the project to help management understand that .5 + .5 does not equal 1. That way, if resources can be made available, adjustments can be made to support the plan.

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