5 things to consider for resource planning

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Categories: forecasting, resources

TimelineNormally on a project you will plan out the tasks required to do the work, and then add in the resources needed to carry out those tasks. Here are 5 things to take into account when doing resource planning on your project.

1. Holidays

All team members need holidays or vacation time. Remember to plan for this when you are scheduling resources – you may find that a critical resource has already planned to take leave during a time on the project when you would really rather that they are around. Talk to the line managers of your team members about when they already have holiday time approved.

Also factor in religious and other cultural holidays. Team members may want to take time off around these times – and that goes for school holidays too.

2. Sickness absence

Unfortunately, team members can go off sick without any notice. While the option to work from home allows many people to soldier on when they may be too ill to make it to the office, you can’t rely on people to not be ill.

One way allow for this is to consider how you will backfill a project role if the person currently doing it is away from work. While you shouldn’t allocate two resources to every task just on the off chance that someone will get the flu, you should have a plan in mind just in case someone drops out of the team due to sickness absence at short notice.

3. Single point of failure

When task planning, look at who on your resource plan is the single point of failure. Who has worked on all on the Finance tasks and has all the operational knowledge? On long projects it can be particularly difficult to switch someone in at the last moment if your single point of failure person hands in their resignation.

4. Negotiating with line managers

If you don’t have direct responsibility for the team member concerned, you will have to negotiate their time on the project with their line manager. This can be tricky, especially if you only need them on a part-time basis. You may find that they can’t do the job they used to do before the project on a part-time basis, and their line manager may not find it convenient to have them back. It may be possible to job share the role in this case.

You should also consider what would happen if your schedule slips and you end up needing the team member for a longer period of time – how will you negotiate this with their line manager?

5. The triple constraint

If you lose a resource back to their day job or for any other reason, you will have to consider the impact that this will have on your task scheduling. The traditional triple constraint, for all its faults, is a good place to start discussions with your sponsor. If you have fewer resources, can you negotiate a longer time to deliver the project? Could you negotiate more money to pay for additional resources so that you have more confidence about reaching the original milestones?

In the end this will be your project sponsor’s decision, but you can at least take him or her some options to consider.

Resource allocation will no doubt change your task plan. You really need to review both the tasks and the resources in parallel so that you can put the two together and come up with an effective and realistic schedule. What other tips do you have for successful resource scheduling? Let us know in the comments.

Posted on: December 16, 2012 04:16 AM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Great list. I would like to add a couple more:
1. Skill and capability matching - Matching tasks to resources means knowing both the skills are needed and the capabilities of the resources. A skills library can come useful on longer projects.

2. Manage workload - estimates are not perfect and resources complete work at different rates depending on their abilities. Its important for the project manager to keep a vigilent eye on workload as things can change and resource may need to be reallocated.

Michelle, the idea of a skills library is interesting. I've tried to do this on projects in the past and felt it was limiting rather than supporting behaviour. How do you best recommend doing this?

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