Managing multiple projects with a limited pool of resources can be a wild ride. No sooner is the skills capacity nicely in balance with your project demand than something changes, requiring re-planning of crucial projects. When significant bottlenecks arise, key project commitments can be at risk, but periods of underutilization erode operational profits. Maintaining the balance is not easy. Resource management reports play a key role in managing this, by highlighting imbalances as they occur and communicating them to all interested parties. Target charts, such as those shown below, enable senior managers to keep an eye on this:
Target chart shows average utilisation level across departments, with individual circles showing for each Department
It can be useful to highlight the number of resources that have spare capacity and those Departments with the biggest problem
A range of resource management reports are required at each stage of the process:
Forward loading reports that show the bottlenecks and areas of underuse are the most useful. These typically compare the skills capacity with stacked area charts of demand, with a heat map table that quantifies the problems. Starting at the highest level of the organization structure, you can drill down the legs with unacceptable bottlenecks to understand the cause in every corner of the organization.
Red cells highlight bottlenecks and green low levels of utilization. Click on a Department link to view its details.
As new projects get close to being awarded, they need to be added to the mix so that their impact can be seen.
Productivity and utilization reports show historical levels being achieved by each team, so that headcount levels can be routinely checked.
Most project organizations are matrix based, so that project managers can focus on project commitments whilst team leaders ensure high levels of utilization are maintained. Effective collaboration requires resource management reports for several steps, for example:
- Project managers often have to specify the skills and competency levels needed for various tasks. As team leaders propose candidates, the project manager will want to ensure that his requirements have been met, so non-compliance reports are useful. A skills matrix underpins this.
- Outstanding requests for resource. Any delays could jeopardise project commitments, so tracking the timely fulfilment of individual requests is important.
Project change arises from a variety of reasons including client change orders or the effect of poor estimating, etc. As project managers re-plan individual projects new bottlenecks can arise. In highly volatile environments, they may have permission to grab additional resource when a speedy resolution is required. Here, tracking reports ensure accountability by showing who changed what, by how much and when.
Resource management reports maintain effective communication across the organization, by improving the visibility of what’s happening.