Projects are completed differently when you have many free resources versus when the organization is resource constrained. In a state where resources are available without much conflict it is possible to leverage paid projects to drive organizational efficiency and innovation. Putting 20% more hours into a project when resources are heavy is an easy and effective way to build the practice.
Several things happen when you over-staff a project. First, you get people involved that may benefit from exposure to the project. Maybe they are newer to the firm and wouldn’t naturally be staffed there yet. Second, you drive discussion on the best way of doing business. These discussions can resonate beyond just the single project to improve all projects. Third, everyone gets better at “the best way” to run projects.
By leveraging during down times you also make yourself more efficient during lean times. The more people that are familiar with a given project type, the more flexibility you have to get to optimal staffing. Making sure you have processes and procedures in place also keeps hours down as much as possible.
It’s all about planning around business cycles. Business cannot be treated the same year after year, month after month. Times are always different.