Workload Documentation

Dear Management Doctor:

David Morley of the APA sent me your contact information. At his recommendation, I have read your book The ABZ's of Planning Management and wish I had read it earlier in my professional career as a planner. I hope it finds its way onto many planning education program shelves.

But it did not help me in what I am looking for - that is, how to measure planning workload - determining the indicators which can be used to assess activities as planners in the day-to-day work efforts for a community. I'd appreciate your input on this matter. A second aspect of this inquiry is, what to do with the data - since we planners often do not control the data "inputs."

I would appreciate your thoughts on this workload documentation issue.

Joey Glushko, Planner

Dear Joey,

I have actually written extensively about this topic on our website Go to the "Search Index" then the articles by subject matter. Look under "P" for performance measures and "W" for work program.

For simplification, simply divide your department into two groups. One would be current planning where the input is set by applications. The other is long range planning, or everything else where the work is likely set by the budget. For a more complex department, you might have other categories, but this would be a starting point.

For Current Planning:

  1. List all the types of applications.
  2. Calculate the number of applications you receive for each type for the year.
  3. Estimate the number of hours the planners spend on each application.
  4. Estimate how many hours each planner has available for the year, "billable hours."
  5. Divide the total number of required hours by the billable hours and this will indicate how many planners are needed.
  6. WHAT TO DO: Set your fees high enough to obtain the amount of revenue needed to do the work, set good performance standards, and get them done.
  7. You will see more details on this in the various articles.
For Long Range Planning
A good planner, as well as elected officials, planning commissioners, and citizens, can dream up more good planning projects than you will ever get funded. So the key here is to develop a work program.
  1. List all the possible projects.
  2. Estimate the number of planner hours needed for each project.
  3. Divide the total needed hours by the billable hours, which will indicate how many planners are needed.
  4. Since you will not likely have the required number of planners, set priorities.
  5. WHAT TO DO: Take the list to the elected officials and have them decide which ones to do. Often they will give you more staff than you ask for. Then plan, plan, plan.
By the way, take another look at the book, Chapter 21 on Budgets and Chapter 27 on Measurement. This covers some of the same points and more.

Happy documentation,

The Management Doctor

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