Have you ever heard your PM refer to his staffing plan as an “inventory control sheet”? Sounds logical right? It’s fairly obvious that you can simplify accounting by viewing people’s billable hours as product inventory. However, what’s dangerous though, is when you start thinking that the people are the inventory. Then you begin to treat them like widgets.
Your true inventory is not the bodies, nor the billable hours for which you get paid. The inventory your client is paying for is the output of the resources. Think about it. Would you want to hire a resource who fit the job description, but was no more useful than a walking-talking paper weight? No, you’d want that resource to add value to your project, even if he was a high-school dropout. Well, your client wants the same thing: results. So as a manager, you want to invest as much as possible into the output-producers, namely your people. Buy them their pet tools; give them flex time; let them telecommute; send them to training. When you do that you improve output, which is what your customers are buying, even if they pay you by the hour.