How deep do you dive in resource management? What indicators do you manipulate with? What is your approach in resource management vs scheduling?
Hey Crizpers, being pretty much impressed by the Critical Chain Project Management, Third Edition book I would like to continue evolving an idea of the resource management approach. The great amusement was given by the survey outlined in the book regarding the resource leveling (p.97). According to this survey, only 5% of those who passed it used resource leveling; responding to the ‘Why’ question people referred to the extended project duration and un-logical tasks sequence. Well.. this explains why that many projects fail. I would like to get a little deeper into the resource management, and encourage you sharing your thoughts and experience in this process.
When it comes to resource management, I believe, many project managers are bumping into the same problems. The size of the resource management issue may vary depending on the organization structure and the governance for the resource management approach it has. However, no matter whether you have a dedicated team; or the resources are allocated by the operations team; or even if you need to acquire resources from other teams yourself, you’re gonna face a couple of common resource planning and management issues that I would like to have a look at.
This topic usually plays a crucial role in general. Initially everything starts from the priority, projects priority. To get the needed resources timely your project should be on the top of that hill.
If we are talking about the dedicated team, begin from the project priority identification among all the other projects that you have in your pocket. Should this is about acquiring resources from the general pool, we are check the project priority among all the company projects.
And let’s be honest, the lower the project priority is, the harder it will be to get the resources. Or, the percentage of allocated time per resource could be that low, which will force to extend the project duration. As a conclusion, the lower the project priority is, the longer it will take to start and to complete the project.
Here it comes. So, in a couple of words, according to the PMBOK Guide and Wiki, leveling is:
A technique in which start and finish dates are adjusted based on resource limitation with the goal of balancing demand for resources with the available supply.
In a plain interpretation, while planning we need to consider the percentage of the resources availability and the necessary sequence of tasks.
For instance, the resource belongs to the team ‘A’ and a project manager from the team ‘B’ acquired it. PM ‘A’ says that resource could be available only 2 hours daily for the project of the team ‘B’. This means, considering the 8-hours-business-day, the required resource will be available only 25% of time.
Would this impact the project duration? Obviously.
As for the tasks sequence, for instance, this resource from the team ‘A’ has to setup the platform, code the payment method integration and develop a couple of features. Evidently, he or she cannot do everything simultaneously, although the technology may allow this. As an example, if we want to speed up the project, we may work on the features development and the payment method integration at the same time. However, if all this should be done by the same resource, most likely this is impossible.
Would this impact the project duration? Yes.
Work in Progress
In a continuation of the tasks sequence, if we still want the work to be done concurrently, we may split the resource availability time among all the tasks. But should we?
Let’s say, there are 2 features and a payment method. Even if a resource is 100% available, this means he or she will be able to spend only ⅓ or time for every task daily.
Now I want you to imagine the following case. You are writing a complicated and detailed email to a customer. Then your alarm clock is ringing. In the middle of this email you have to switch to the new project documentation. Further, when you have started to write one of the plans, you were interrupted by the meeting. Looks like a real life situation, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, when you are returning the email or to the documentation, do you need to spend time recalling the topic? Where have you stopped? What were you intending to continue with?
While planning these tasks for yourself, have you considered this time-to-recall in the estimates? And just think what if you need to stop and start every task several times.
Same issue happens on tasks planned for your resources. If you force them to switch from one action to another regularly, would this be efficient?
Would this impact the project duration? Yes.
Resource Management VS Scheduling
From the above we can transparently see that the way we plan and manage human resources directly impacts the project schedule. And actually this is related not only to human, but to other resources as well. Should this be a tool or an environment availability, this would only be an additional variable in the project plan equation.
It is pretty much straight forward, that if we plan resources wrongly, this will impact the project schedule as it will become way too optimistic. With no doubts your stakeholders and the project owner will love that. Yet, during the project lasts, more and more problems with resources and schedule will be popping up. This means a project manager is either gonna tear the pants, or to report on the project issues much more often than on the project success. Most likely, both will happen.
Next, this project is gonna be late for all deadlines. As a solution a PM could either force the team working overtimes; or to acquire more resources to speed up the work. Any impact to the project? Hm, yeah. More funds would have to be poured, and the project will go beyond the planned budget.
Furthermore, as we are exceeding the timeline and the budget, the sponsor might want to reduce the scope and to deploy the project sooner in order to start returning funds.
And BANG, as a result, we can see that the wrong resource management approach could impact all the general project KPIs. This project is not going to be delivered on scope, on time or on budget. I would even say such projects are considered as failed projects. Let me know if you do not agree with that and what are your thoughts about it.
Definitely, no-one likes long and expensive projects. And your stakeholders will be happier if you will present an ‘efficient’, quick project that does not require to invest a lot. Isn’t it a great feeling to be a king of the day when you are presenting such a wonderful project plan?
Even so, is it worth a disappointment and a negative effect which are going to arise next and will be increasing together with the project progression?
Don’t want to be discouraging, the only thing I am calling to is sticking with the realistic approach. This may not bring the spotlights in the very start of the project, but the red carpet will be yours in the very end.
Personally, I am often accused for the pessimistic approach in project management, however, most of my projects are being completed within the general project KPIs: on time, on scope, on budget.
Therefore, I would call for the realistic attitude. It is better to invest in the procedures optimization, automation and efficiency increase than in planning unfeasibly.
What is your planning method? Do you use resource leveling while planning? How do you prefer to approach resource management vs scheduling?