Annual Work Programs

Dear Management Doctor:

I was wondering if you could identify any quality examples of an annual work program for a Community Development Department or a Planning Division?

Valerie Barone
Walnut Creek, CA

Dear Valerie:

An annual work program for a planning department is a must. I prefer to have it adopted on an annual basis by the elected officials. The process is very simple.

  1. List all the projects you have been asked to do or want to do.
  2. For each project, estimate the number of hours it would take to complete the project.
  3. Divide the list into two pieces. What I call above-the-line projects are those that you have staff for or believe can be accomplished. Below-the-line projects are all the rest.
  4. For the above-the-line projects, it can also be useful to indicate a timeline for completion.
  5. Add up all the time needed for the above-the-line projects and divide by billable hours. The billable hours are the number of hours staff is actually available to work. This will be about 1,500 to 1,600 hours per year as illustrated in the first link below. The resulting number will tell you how many planners would be needed to complete these projects.
  6. I usually do not set the staffing for clerical or technical support this way, but in a more sophisticated analysis you could do so.
  7. This takes care of your “planning” projects. For applications, it is a simple matter of estimating how many you will have next year and multiply by the average amount of time you believe each will require.
  8. Below are links to two work programs. One is a simple sample I use in my class. The other is an actual part of a work program that was used in Palo Alto, CA. They have a two-year budget, so it is a bit more complex. However, note that they list the projects and estimate the number of hours.