Resource Planning - Top Questions from the Audience

Author: Tom Raper

We recently explored the topic of resource planning in our webinar Prioritise Your People – Best Practices for Allocating Resources and while we shared best practices and insights to help setup a resource allocation plan, we were pleasantly surprised by some of the questions that we received at the end. While we answered these directly to the those that asked during the event, we thought they could shed some light for others as well, so here are the top questions we were asked.

What size organisation is the tipping point where it makes sense for resource management automation? 
KeyedIn most often sees organizations reaching 25 resources are greatly impacted by manual resource management practices. This can vary on the level of details and requirements associated with managing those resources. Some organisations require better resource management in smaller numbers if they allocate activities and tasks in more granular detail or involve skills tracking. Put another way, the more resources you have the less detail you can accurately manage using manual processes.

Can you please explain the technology architecture associated with you PPM/ RPM solution?
KeyedIn is a true multi-tenant SaaS solution that is delivered and managed from multiple data centers supporting our global customer base. Clients access KeyedIn using one of the major browser platforms (IE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari). KeyedIn does not require any plug-ins or client-side installation for access and primary operations. KeyedIn does offer a mobile client in the IOS and Android markets to support remote mobile-based access to project, time, expense, collaboration, and dashboard functionality, in a connected or disconnected state.

From a general resource planning standpoint, what do you recommend as an allocation to a project? For example, take a 40 hr. work week - most of our resources will not spend 40 hrs. directly against project tasks - when resources are assigned to projects - if they are set at 100% (which a lot of PMs do) - the project schedule will always be late, because they will never get a full 40 hrs. Do you recommend assigning up to a certain % - like 70% or 80% only?
Resource capacity, allocation, and utilisation are often variables that vary by organisation, resource role, and even named resources. Most importantly you need to ensure that these can be adjusted and managed separately where one value doesn’t apply to all resources. Commonly you will hear organisations targeting 70% utilisation of their resources to planned activities. Underlying this suggest at least a couple hours a day are available for administrative tasks, meetings, email, etc. 100% allocation is certainly unrealistic and will lead to projects being behind schedule and over budget. On the other hand, if you want to show 100% allocation of resources, perhaps to help justify or validate resource requirements, a percentage of their time should be allocated to a non-project time pool. The combination of project and non-project time can be combined to reflect a resources overall utilisation. Often times organisations will also qualify projects into productive or business as usual (KTLO) type of projects. Most dedicated project resources will have a smaller percentage tied to business as usual, but extremely rare this would be 0%. Likewise, managers or resources with multiple roles with rarely be utilised more than 50% against productive projects. These variations within your organisation and across organisations stress the importance of flexibility in managing and track resource utilisation. If you are still thinking a resource could be 100% utilised against a project, you may need to ask yourself: “which project would I allocate or record time to reading this post?”

Any thoughts on managing resources who are only involved in project work part-time? i.e. employees who have a "day job" but are pulled in for process improvement initiatives or Six Sigma projects 
How you manage a resource that may only be pulled in occasionally, or not part of the normal project team, would vary depending on your required level of scheduling, tracking, or visibility of using that resource. One time use or pulled in simply for some advice is likely not justified to create a resource record, manage a profile, or record actuals against that resource. Unless there are requirements to plan and record effort, costs, or activity from that resource against the project, you can likely treat the resource like other artifacts or information you track against the project that don’t fall into these categories. A simple notation of the resource’s involvement may suffice. The amount of effort or cost of using those resources may also dictate the level of planning and tracking required. If I am asking a resource to engage in the project operations, tracking time, costs, participating in project activities, and updating status against tasks, then I will likely require a specific resource record similar to full-time resources. Being able to define, organise, and manage different resource types in your resource management process is critical to addressing your requirements. No two resources are the same and KeyedIn ensures our resource management allows for these variations.