Managing multiple projects with a fixed pool of resources is a continuous challenge. Maintaining project commitments when the workload frequently changes requires constant attention. Yet, having too much spare resource ‘just in case’ degrades utilisation targets and erodes profit levels.
Innate’s resource planning software helps to continuously optimise the use of your resources, when each project has its own timeline, priority and competency requirements.
Innate’s web based resource planning tool has e a similar look and feel to Excel but with additional functions, such as interactive Gantt charts. You can create new resource plans with the required work break down structure, from simple to complex. How we help with cost estimating for complex engineering or drug development projects is described in a white paper.
Converting spreadsheets into Innate will transform your resource planning; data becomes more consistent, current and complete, and user access is controllable, so the credibility of management information substantially improves.
These are logical starting points for creating your new resource plan. You will typically have a number of templates that range from simple lists of skills or roles, to more complex work break down structures. The screenshot below shows the simpler end of the spectrum.
The timephased columns can be pre-populated with work estimates, if required. This is useful for repeating types of projects, where typical work profiles can be presented for editing. For more unique projects that need to be estimated from scratch the work profiles can be left empty.
Project templates are normally maintained centrally by the systems administrator or project office, but individuals can easily amend and save their own. Other project plans can also be copied, if these are a better starting point.
A couple of clicks create a new resource plan from the selected template. The default work profiles populated from the project template can be easily amended by overtyping, copy and paste or drag and drop. You can watch a video of this.
Work estimates can also be entered as a total number of hours between required dates. A selection of profiles can be applied to distribute the total over the timeline, e.g. Front or Back loaded, as shown below:
Innate’s resource planning tool allows each planner to customise and save their own views. Relevant columns of data can be selected by each user and the work units specified in terms of timescales displayed (days, weeks, months or quarters) and units of work, such as hours, days, units or FTEs.
As proposed projects are accepted and approved, their status can be updated and tracked through the project status workflow, for the lifecycle of the project.
Required competencies can easily be included when specifying a resource request. The screenshot below has a Required Languages column as an example, where required linguistic competencies are specified, but multiple requirement columns can be added. This is particularly useful in geographically dispersed organizations.
As new projects are saved, the requests appear automatically on the relevant resource managers’ list of requests to be dealt with. As individuals are nominated, their actual competencies can be compared with those requested, for review by the requester.
The Assignment status list controls workflow through the resource allocation process, as resources are requested, individuals proposed, and these accepted or rejected.
Whatever the resource allocation process, there must be effective co-operation between project and resource managers if individual projects are not to suffer.
Taking a baseline for resource performance measurement
As new projects are approved you can take a project baseline, a snapshot of the resource plan, to create the timephased project budget. As time is booked and the plan updated, the project’s performance can then be measured by comparing the actual effort plus current forecast (estimate to complete) with the timephased budget.
Highlighting the variance gives early warning of poor performance so that corrective action can be taken. The building blocks for Earned Value measurement are in place, if required. Additional baselines can be held as changes in project scope are agreed, and comparison reports used to highlight the changes.
What if..? scenarios
As resource levels on project plans are updated, or new projects with high priority arrive, resource bottlenecks can unexpectedly arise. ‘What if.. analysis enables you to assess alternative scenarios, so that resource bottlenecks can be reduced with minimum impact on committed delivery dates.
If you are struggling with spreadsheets, Innate’s resource planning software is the logical next step.