Most internal departments that manage multiple projects operate within fixed resource and budgetary constraints. As new projects arise they need to be scheduled around spare skills capacity and budget availability. Each project’s budget and time constraints are best agreed, before it is planned in detail. This is the top down planning approach.
Bottom up planning is fine for preparing a plan and estimate of the required work and skills – or for billable projects to external clients that can fund contract staff. However, internal departments cannot treat any project in isolation and new plans need to be considered alongside existing commitments.
It is common for new projects to arise unexpectedly, particularly within IT departments. These can have high priority and require that other work be delayed to free up the required resource. New rulings from regulatory authorities are a common source of such projects.
Innate resource management software supports top down planning.
The ability to create various scenarios that show the resource and commercial consequences of alternatives are very helpful, not only in re-balancing the workload effectively, but in communicating to both clients and internal staff the reasons for any changes that have to be made.
Top Down Planning with Innate
Innate resource management software enables projects to be planned with the most appropriate tools, either spreadsheet or Microsoft Project. Innate’s web based spreadsheets have a similar look and feel to Excel, but with a single click can:
- Switch to Gantt chart views.
- Change time scales (from days, weeks, months or quarters).
- Amend work units (full time equivalents, days or hours).
- Rollup or explode down through the work breakdown structure.
This approach is very suitable for the top down planning of major projects that will have detailed schedules developed in Microsoft Project.
- High level estimates for new projects can easily be entered, and the capacity to accommodate them easily seen. The spreadsheet views can accommodate all committed work so that the new projects can be best positioned to minimize skills bottlenecks and to respect any budgetary constraints.
- Where the workload needs to be re-balanced, scenarios that work on copies of the live data can easily be created. This enables lower priority work to be delayed until the new high priority work can best be accommodated.
- Once the scenario has been agreed, the live data can be updated and change reports issued to show how each project has been affected. The Innate link with Microsoft Project creates a new plan and imports the high level estimate.
- Appropriate views can easily be set up within MS Project, such as the one shown below, so that the detailed plan can be prepared within the work budget and timescale constraints developed within Innate.