My work consists in doing a number of projects with multiple different teams across the company, as well as handling some day-to-day requests from individual colleagues, again across different departments and offices of the company.

I think I have reached a stage where my reports and I cannot handle everything without the continuous support of another team, which often works together with us but is scarce in resources. Either we have to miss deadlines or need more people. Or we work incredible hours overtime, and I start feeling physically bad about this, without sleep.

Now a problem is that my boss always asks to back up any claim I make with numbers, time and averages, but the workload and pace has become extremely unpredictable and volatile - which means that planning and re-planning (this involves a lot of coordination across different teams, setting up meetings, etc.) also requires extra time.

So it is hard for me to communicate that we need more time or people, because it may be that on one day we're relatively calm and free of any day-to-day requests, but on the next day we manage to do only half of what was requested from us.

My boss sometimes asks redistributing deadlines, i.e. convincing those who request us to push back deadlines, but this causes additional issues.

Everything is connected... I am stressed that I cannot even explain properly.

Let me put it this way: I am absolutely convinced that we need more people (or more time) but I am finding it hard to figure out how to properly communicate it / how to back the claim to my boss

So how can I properly communicate the issue?

@Mike van Trufflebutt - the other team helping us are technical resources with skills/access/authority none in my team has. All their work needs to be done in coordination with other things going on in the company. They work a lot with the technological infrastructure and databases etc (I and my team are non-IT staff). We are not off-loading work to them - they are the only ones capable of doing most of the tasks that would enable us to properly do our jobs. We often have delays, lags, etc. because they are insufficient. So they MUST do work for us, but it often happens very late. I hope this clarifies.

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    Does this nearly identical question answer your question? – enderland Sep 10 '14 at 21:06
  • Maybe your question should be: how can I collect the data that convinces my boss? It's hard to believe that you can't put the workload in figures one way or another. – user8036 Sep 10 '14 at 21:39
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    Your boss wants numbers and you're working excessive hours, if this doesn't add up for him it's because he doesn't think this is a problem. – user8365 Sep 11 '14 at 2:41

Great question! You're right, if your team is working that hard, you need to have a way to communicate that to your manager so s/he can help overcome this issue. Here's what I would do:

  1. Start tracking every major task your team is expected to do. Because you're too busy to plan, make sure your team enters the task, duration, and the person's name doing the task.

  2. After a couple of weeks, look at your tasks to identify the ones your team does regularly. These recurring tasks are the minimum your team needs to do to keep everything at a steady-state. These are the tasks that the other team definately should not be doing. Everthing can be shared.

  3. Now add up the time it takes for all the other tasks and divide that number by your normal work week. My normal work week is 40, so I would divide my total by that.

  4. This figure is the number of people your team needs to do its job.

From here there are two strategies you can use:

a. You can identify specific people on the other team that helps you and ask for them to be dedicated resources to perform those tasks. Effectively you'll be moving those tasks to the other team, or the person from the other team will be working with you.

b. You can go to your boss and use these numbers to justify the hiring of new folks.

I would try A first. The reason is that if you do new hires, then what will this other team do? If you are off-loading your extra work onto them now, does that mean they have a ton of extra capacity? If so, leveraging that extra capacity makes a lot of sense.

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    Never divide by 40, that causes things to be underestimated. you have to account for leave, jury duty, indirect work, sickness, bereavement, unavoidable delay, Corporate meetings, etc. Allmanpower calculations should be done assuming that only 6.2 hours daily will be available for direct work. That is close to the figure industrial engineers use when doing manpower calculations and is based on decades of solid data. – HLGEM Sep 10 '14 at 22:06

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