It is an axiom that the working year consists of 2080 hours (or 2000 hours for easy calculation). However, this cannot be true!
Firstly, for many days we are not even at work. These days include holidays (Christmas, July 4th, Thanksgiving, etc., usually 10 paid days off in all), vacations (the 2-4 weeks we all need to recharge!), sick days, jury duty, etc. These account for easily 12-15% of the year.
When we are at work, a portion of our time is spent in corporate activity which is necessary, but cannot be targeted at a particular project. These consist of company and department meetings, lab cleanups, general planning meetings (covering multiple lines), safety updates, annual reviews, general supplies purchasing – in short, all necessary to the efficient running of the enterprise, but very difficult to assign to individual projects or products except through overhead. Yes, these all add up to about 15% for professional staff! Hourly staff often do not participate in all of the above, so their time attrition may be slightly less.
The time remaining (1440+ hours) is spread across identified specific products or projects. Timesheets will bear this out. Hence, a Full Time Equivalent professional employee spends only 1440 hours on targeted research, development and production activities, and 1440 hours is what you can expect to apply to a man-year! A 2000 hour project actually reflects 1 ½ FTEs, not just one – no wonder some of these projects are late, under budgeted and the employee under stress!
If practical experience (timesheets or other real-time detailed records) show that considerably less than the 70% is being applied, then you have to ask why. Is it because other (lesser) tasks take up professional time? Are too many people attending non-critical meetings, which go on far too long or frequently? Is additional hourly support staff warranted?
The day is shorter than we think. Let’s make sure we maximize the utility of the hours we have available!