Project Management and Resource Planning

What makes a good resource plan?

A good resource plan consists of a schedule that is as detailed as possible for the information known, and the types of resources needed for each task. A good resource plan will have a single task owner on each task.

Resource Assignments

Notice the columns called 'duration' and 'resource type' in our Product Development Activity List below. Duration refers to the timeframe in which the task will be performed. Resource type is the skill set required to accomplish the task. In order to assign tasks to individuals, it is necessary to know the expected duration of a task as well as the individual resource availability. Before assigning individuals to tasks, it is recommended to associate a task with a resource type. Then enter the expected duration of that task based on the resource chosen. This provides the ability to analyze a project schedule, assuming there are no resource constraints on an individual's availability.

Duration is the expected timeframe needed to complete the task while taking into consideration the skill level and general availability of the resource. Duration should account for reality. If the activity 'identification of focus group targets' (WBSID is expected to take two weeks, but historically, employees are only available 70% of the time due to general meetings, holidays, vacations, etc., then planning for a duration of three weeks would be more reasonable.

The resource types used in your organization may be different than what is depicted in this chart. Utilize the resources types that exist in your own organization. The objective here is to associate a responsible party with the appropriate skill set to each of the tasks.

The work package 'project management' has been identified as a level of effort (LOE) activity. This means that the individual(s) assigned to that activity will perform various activities during the full duration of the project. Level of effort is best used when individuals are 100% allocated to the project.

Resource Planning Activity List

There are two types of resource plans. One is hypothetical, based on resource type set without any resource constraints. Resource type refers to the skill set that a task requires for completion. The other is an actual resource plan, based on actual resource availability. A hypothetical schedule based only on the resource types needed produces a hypothetical resource plan.

In our example activity list, the resource types were identified and duration was converted into a network schedule and Gantt chart. When a schedule is created in Project Insight, project management software, or imported from MS Project, Project Insight automatically creates a Gantt chart.

Project Insight, project management software, permits the project manager to run 'what-if' scenarios on projects in planning phase. Project managers or project schedulers may set up schedules with tasks related to the resource type or skill set required to accomplish that task. Then assignments may be made to team members.

Setting up Project Work

As mentioned earlier, the initial schedule and resource plan should be developed and analyzed based on the resource type required, without considering resource availability. Assignments will be made as a second step.

Assigning work is as much about psychology as it is about executing the project. Most individuals prefer to have a clear understanding of the work that needs to be performed. Resources require focused attention to the task in order to deliver the highest quality work. Studies have shown that if an individual is juggling more than three tasks simultaneously, the efficiency of his/her work is significantly hampered.

In addition, without clear prioritization of tasks, it is human nature for people to work on tasks that they feel most comfortable with and not necessarily the ones that are most important to complete. As the project manager, understanding basic human tendencies is critical in effective execution of a plan.

Again, since projects are unique events, it is inevitable that schedule changes will occur and the assignment of work will be modified. Therefore, smaller, more regular assignments to individuals will minimize confusion and produce better results.

Project Insight assists the project manager with respect to these issues because the software distributes and delivers project tasks or assignments to the team member automatically.

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