Monthly Archive for March, 2008

FTE in the context of multiple countries

When you look at FTE in the context of multiple countries, it suddenly brings a bunch of interesting aspects. In this article, I explore the impact of the country context on the FTE calculation. The goal is to demonstrate the variation between the net hours/year of FTEs.

What kinds of variation exist at Theoretical FTE level? The number of working hours per week varies in each country as well as within countries for the industry sectors. Here are 3 examples:

  • In Belgium, 38h/week is standard and many companies operate 40h/week which give extra holidays to the employee.
  • In France, it is 35h/week, but many companies are operating with more than 35h/week because it used to be 39h/week before. They had to adapt to that recent law by many different means.
  • In UK, 37.5h/week is standard for “Office Employee”, but 40h/week for Industry worker.

What kinds of variations exist at Realistic FTE level? The number of legal holidays varies from 31 (Denmark) to 6 (Mexico) as written here. Public holidays vary also from country to country or state to state but also from region to region within countries like in Germany. Wikipedia has a page that list holidays per country. I liked very much this graph on Wikipedia; it represents more or less the Realistic FTE hours/year equivalence per country. The range goes from 1309 hours (The Netherlands) to 2390 hours (Korea)!

So now you understand what mess you are entering into when you need to mix FTEs from different countries in capacity planning exercices.

Google Homepage in black

I read today this article from Google Operating System’s RSS. Ok, Google is supporting Earth Hour initiative. Nice. Then I was curious to see the Google in Black…so I gave it a try with the Google UK Homepage.

It was rather suprising to move from this …


To the black version….


Google gives some extra info about their initiative for Earth Hour.

Everybody that went to during that time must have thought “What the Heck is this ?” Eventually clicked on the Earth Hour link and got some rational on why it was black.

Do you think that Terminal 5 at Heathrow participated to the Earth Hour thing ? They could have. 🙂 Those plenty of cancelled flights would have generated many tons of CO2.

Definition of 3 kinds of FTEs.

I want to come back on my post “Theoretical FTE vs. Practical FTE“. I should have formally named the different kinds of FTEs. So let’s fill the gap.

Theoretical FTE:

For a 1 year period, the hours’ equivalence is:

1 Theoretical FTE = 2080 hours.

The calculation of hours’ equivalence is made of all weekdays with the following assumption: 40h/week, 1 year = 52 weeks.

Realistic FTE:

The calculation of hours’ equivalence is:

Realistic FTE = Theoretical FTE – unworked days

The unworked days are a combination of public holidays, holidays (legal and compensation holidays), and statistical number of days for sickness leaves.

Practical FTE:

The calculation of hours’ equivalence is:

Practical FTE = Realistic FTE – non-productive time

According to, definition of non-productive time is “Time not directly associated with manufacturing operations or performance of a job or task.” Examples would be like reading corporate policy, participating to HR training, cleaning up my mail inbox, etc.

Now that the definitions are set, my previous post should have formally displayed:

  • 1 Theoretical FTE = 2080 hours.
  • 1 Realistic FTE = 1640 hours*.
  • 1 Practical FTE = 1476 hours*.

(*) These numbers came up because of the context and assumption taken in my previous post.

I’ll further discuss in a future post about the variations of hours’ equivalence resulting from context and assumption taken in Realistic FTE and Practical FTE.

Theoretical FTE vs. Practical FTE

I had an off-side discussion with a colleague about real FTE implication in the context of high-level planning. I recall I had had similar discussion a while ago. This post is nothing new or magic, but I believe it is worth reading and giving it a though.

In Project Management, it is common practice to take 40h/week as available work for a resource. There is 52 weeks in 1 year and so 2080 hours/year. It represents 1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent).

I take a Belgian Employee and make one assumption: He works 40h/week but receives from his employer 12 extra holidays, called compensation days, because of the 38h/week legislation.

The numbers for this context are: 1 year is 365 days; 104 days are weekends; 261 weekdays; 12 days of public holidays (Belgium); 20 days of holidays; 12 days of Compensation Days; 12 days of sickness (2006 White paper from Securex).

Utopian approach: perfect employee could work 365-104 (weekends)-12 (public holidays) = 249 days per year, let’s round it up to 250 days however you assume employee takes no holidays and is never out sick. With this approach 1 FTE = (250*8h) 2000 hours of work during a period of 1 year.

Realistically: Employee can work 365-104-12-20-12-12= 205 working days per year, 1 FTE = (205*8h) 1640 hours.

Comparing 250 and 205, it tells that 18% of working days of 1 year are gone when you think about the real employee vs. the perfect employee. However it is not done yet.

Ask someone this simple question: How much do you work on this full-time project ABC? I’m 100% assigned to it, he said. How do you read this? Is he working 40h/week on the project? You might think so but actually not.

The employee participated to a meeting. He lost 1h while IT fixed a problem on his machine. He get trained to a new HR or Company policy. He cleaned his mail inbox. It is a common practice to assign between 10% and 20% of the available working time for these typically called Admin Activities. So that employee working 100% on project ABC is effectively only 90%, 36h/week for the tight planning (or 80%, 32h/week). There is more to say about these variations (Future Article) but for now let’s use 10%.

A new statement can be made: 1 FTE = (1640-10%) 1476 hours of work during a period of 1 year.

Overall “Theoretical” FTE (2000 hours) vs. “Practical” FTE (1476 hours) shows more than 25% difference!

Let’s consider high-level planning by Quarters. Management is likely to use FTE to evaluate how much of resource you need for Project ABC and come up with 2 FTEs in Q1, 6 FTEs in Q2, 4 FTEs in Q3 and 2 FTEs in Q4. This averages to 3.5 FTEs for the entire year.

Look at this table and observe the variation between theoretical and practical FTEs.

FTE Table Example

Next time you enter into a high-level planning session, make sure you know what kind of FTEs you are dealing with.

Tell me your thought.

TeamViewer, remote assistance made easy

In several occasions I needed to provide remote assistance to my friends or family members. I used several times the default remote assistance functionality that comes with Windows XP. The result was rather unsuccessful. Functionality itself was fine but establishing the connection has been a real challenge. Eventually this turned away the users to ask for remote assistance.

I then decided to search for a better solution. The target was clear: ease of use and free of charge solution.

    TeamViewer (version 3.5.4140) rapidly showed to be a great solution for the usage I required: simple hassle-free home user remote assistance over Internet.
    Team Viewer

    Software solution key points are:

    • No software installation required on the client side.
    • Simplistic mechanism to establish connection.
    • Free for private use.

    There is 1 point though that is missing: You can start the session with “view only” privilege and once you have been granted to take control over the target machine you cannot give it back to the owner of the machine unless terminating the remote session.

    I also tested the online support who answered my queries on the next business day. I’ve been impressed knowing that I was clearly identified as home user, using the free version of their software.

    TeamViewer also offers various licencing models for professional users at a very reasonable price. Reviewing the software with an angle of professional usage, I’m convinced that TeamViewer is a good solution worth to consider for small or medium enterprise where punctual remote assistance to users is required. I think that large company is likely to prefer a complete desktop management solution.

    Conclusion :

    The tool is very easy to use and does the job I asked. I recommend it in the context of personal usage.

    For Professional usage, I recommend you proceed with an pilot evaluation and assessment before making your call on how this tool fits your needs.