6 tips to avoid burnout of IT project teams

One key task for a project manager is to manager their resources so as to avoid burnout.

Burnout on projects is quite common these days with so many of them running over time and budget.

This has it’s toll on your project team members in ways that you really don’t want.  Here are some tips on how to avoid this burnout (and it might just mean that your project is delivered on time too)

Tip 1 – Have a set of locked down business requirements

Ensure that up front you have a captured and signed off set of business requirements.  Yes, I know that I sound like a broker record about this, but a lot of the stress burnout that I see from development teams revolves around them having to spend their time re-working material that they have developed, all because the business requirements were not locked down prior to the project starting.

Tip 2 – Ensure that you have enough resources or contingency time planned

It is no good having the resources to work full time for 5 days on work that will actually take 2 people five days, or worse yet, 2 people 10 days.  You really need to ensure that when you do your resource planning you fully understand the development requirement and fully factor in problems with resourcing (someone gets sick, or their partner or children do and they are needed at home), or problems with development (because what is required is something new and so the team haven’t developed it before).

Tip 3 – Ensure that the business resources or SME’s are available when your developers need them

There is nothing worse for a technical team to need questions answered by the business, and the business SME’s aren’t available, because they are off at a sales conference.  The project is a joint team effort – business and IT working together, so it is really important that if the IT team are going to commit to the delivery 100%, then the business needs to ensure that they are just as committed.

Tip 4 – Have some collaborative space available to team members

It is important that when the team need to discuss what isn’t working, in order to brainstorm solutions, or make phone calls to other techies, that they have a space available to them, without having to travel to it, or kick others out of the space.  This small item, if not done, can create a lot of added stress on development teams.

Tip 5 – Allow for time outs

No one can work at developing for long and continued periods of time.  It is important that factored into the planning discussed in Tip 2, is some time out time.  This is especially critical when the team have been working solidly for several months and feeling like they are on a never ending loop.  Allow time out time between delivery phases, or unique pieces of work.  This will allow for clearer minds which in the long term will allow for more productive workers.

Tip 6 – Have fun!

Yes, you read it correctly, ‘have fun!’.   Too often I see teams so buried in what they are doing that they forget to laugh, joke and have fun.  This in itself will help relieve stress.  Have a team dress up theme day once a week, so that you can laugh at each other.  Bring in your baby photos for a day and get other team members to guess who is who.  Do those small and different things to break up what is otherwise a very tedious task.

There are other ways to avoid burnout, but the key things is that as a project manager your are aware that it could happen and have some useful tips up your sleeve to prevent it before it occurs.



Written by Karen Munro

*Image courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net