Interim assignments are different than permanent assignments, particularly if they have a defined, concrete ending point and aren’t a probationary test. For these, the general equation S=f(RxT) is critical. (Scope is a function of Resources x Time).
SCOPE – Be sure to clarify what the person putting you in the interim assignment wants you to get done. What’s the objective? What’s the deliverable? What’s the output of the work you’ll do?
TIME – Understand the length of the assignment and the proportion of your time you’re supposed to devote to the assignment while it’s ongoing. For example, 100% of your time over a month is roughly equivalent to 25% of your time over 4 months.
RESOURCES – This has to be the balancing piece. The scope desired and the time allotted mandate a level of resources. This is where the debate needs to come. If they want X done by Y, you’ll need Z. If they don’t want to allocate the required resources, then either the scope or the time needs to adjust. In particular, think in terms of:
- internal human resources (other people to help with the task, including incremental people to help move your other responsibilities forward while you’re dealing with your interim tasks)
- external human resources (like consultants)
- operating budgets
- capital budgets
- information access (you don’t have to re-create everything)
Interim assignments can be wonderful, or disastrous. Thinking them through in advance can increase your chances of their ending up on the wonderful side.