Project demand management as proposals are awarded

New external projects generally start as an enquiry. Whilst some will not be worth bothering with, those that appeal will require a work estimate as part of the proposal. Many will fall by the wayside, but a percentage will make it onto the client’s short list and eventual award. Assessing their resourcing impact on the business is often referred to as project demand management.

The businesses priority is to ensure that sufficient staff are assigned to each and every project, so that client commitments are consistently met on time. There will also be a drive to maintain high levels of resource utilisation, as having staff hanging around ‘just in case’ will quickly erode operational profits.

Managing multiple projects in a volatile environment can be an exciting ride. Whenever project schedule or work estimates changes arise, resource bottlenecks can occur which threaten committed dates. Equally unacceptable, a project delay can free up many resources that have no other work to do. This is where resource planning tools can help with project demand management.

Maintaining the right levels of resource allocation for just the committed projects can be challenging enough. How to respond when some of the proposals are likely to be awarded?

This view layers the most likely proposals (Proposal 3 and Proposal 4) on top of the committed workload, with a heat map identifying unacceptable areas of overload (in Red) and underuse (in green), with optimal periods of utilisation shown in amber. For some of the proposals, there may be scope to delay the start, and the upper pane shows by how much a proposal has been delayed from the target start date, in order to minimise the bottleneck.

When there is no further scope for delaying the likely new projects, the heat map shows the profile of additional resources needed to meet every project’s commitments, including both the committed ones and likely awards. This gives HR a clear profile for locating contract staff or new hires. It’s a good example of how resource planning tools, such as Innate, enable effective project demand management.

Barry Muir is a Director of Innate Management Systems Ltd. We have been implementing resource management software in a wide variety of professional services organizations for more than 20 years.
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