Resource Management: This Is How You Determine The Effort Of Your Project

Resource Management – Effort Planning In The Project

This article is about people, but this time about those who work or are supposed to work on the project. So it’s about resource management. I don’t really like this term; why I’ll explain again in a moment.

But it is now the common term in project management, and that is why I suggest that we use it here in the article. This article is about resource management in the project, which means we will focus very much on resource planning.

In a separate article, we will then take care of resource management in the company. This reflects, so to speak, the inside and outside view of a project.

What Is A Resource?

What is a resource, and what is resource management? When I look into Wikipedia, Wikipedia says the following:

Resources are a means of taking action or running a process

Wikipedia also speaks of resources, people and raw materials. Resources or resources come from English and means: source, auxiliary or resource.

Now you can see why I don’t like the term. He suggests that people or persons that they can be treated as equipment. But we all know that this is not the case.

However, the term is more or less a standard in project management, which is why I suggest that we continue to use it here in the article.

But it is important to me to always keep in mind that there is a difference between planning a person and a machine.

Resource Management Is Mostly About People

So: Resources are people, people that I need to carry out a project, to implement a project. On the other hand, some resources are required for this. I am now thinking, for example, of test stands, measuring rooms, measuring equipment, prototypes or samples. These are all things that I would put under the heading of resources.

Most of the time, however, people are in the foreground when it comes to resource management and resource planning, simply for a reason just mentioned: because I cannot schedule people in the same way as to test benches and because this is where the most significant shifts and probably problems arise from this circumstance.

What Is Resource Management?

Then what is resource management? Well, resource management is about first identifying the people I need to carry out a project. And then find out to what extent these people are required. So when I need them and how many hours of their working hours.

And at the very end, it’s about using people as efficiently as possible, i.e. letting them do the right things.

The Benefits Of Resource Management Are Obvious

Why is it important from my point of view to have resource management or resource planning in the project? The answer is obvious: to implement projects, achieve project goals and thus generate benefits. We need people who do the work. And the earlier I know when I need it, how long and to what extent, the better and more forward-looking I can deal with it.

Resource Management Provides A Glimpse Into The Future

Because you know that too: Nothing slows down a project more than when you have a specific task, a work package and the person who can implement it and maybe that’s precisely an expert, there is precisely one person in the company who is busy doing something else.

My experience shows that we usually have lengthy discussions about who will get the person in his project, which doesn’t help any of the tasks involved. With good resource management, I have a clear view of the future, and I can make decisions relatively early and ensure that there are no waiting times in the projects.

Make Costs Predictable

From my point of view, another benefit is that I can use the resource requirements to estimate the associated costs. Because if I know how many people I need and what hours I need them, I can also count what project costs I will have. And whether the project costs make sense and whether this makes the project economical and profitable or not.

Resource Management As A Supreme Discipline

One more remark at this point, before we delve deeper into how to create sensible resource planning:

Resource management is the supreme discipline in project management

Above all, sound resource management is the supreme discipline in project management. And I think the reason for that is simple; For good resource management, a relatively large number of things have to go together.

It is not enough for a single project to plan and determine the resources. For resource management to work well, all or let’s say at least most projects have to do that. And ideally in a similar way.

And the organization, i.e. the departments or areas in which the people who work on a project are located, has to consider how much capacity I have available for projects?

Resource Management Only Works Company-Wide

You see, from a single project, resource management is not meaningful and productive from my point of view.

This is a bit different from other project instruments in project management. A project structure or schedule that a single project can make for itself. That works and is applicable even if the others don’t.

Everyone is welcome to take part in resource management so that it makes sense. Resource management has to come out of the organization “from above”.

For this reason, I have also put the topic into two posts. This post is about what can happen in the project, resource planning and the use of resources. The following article is about resource management in the company.

The Way To Resource Planning

How do I come to sensible resource planning? I want to introduce you to the four steps I usually take to get a good, decent resource plan for a project.

Step 1: Create A Project Structure

Please start with the first step, and you already know it from previous posts: Create a project structure!

I think I’ve already written it a couple of times here on this page: the project structure is the mother of all instruments, the starting point for almost all other activities that arise in project planning.

Again to repeat: The project structure is a complete possible representation of all work packages and activities in the project. All the work and the current status that has to be done to implement the project should be shown here. And at the same time, the whole thing is structured in sub-projects, sometimes in main work packages, and thus already provides such a small organizational framework for the project. I have already explained to you in this post how you come up with a project structure.

Also Read:

The Way To Resource Planning

How do I come to sensible resource planning? I want to introduce you to the four steps I usually take to get a good, decent resource plan for a project.

Step 1: Create A Project Structure

Please start with the first step, and you already know it from previous posts: Create a project structure!

I think I’ve already written it a couple of times here on this page: the project structure is the mother of all instruments, the starting point for almost all other activities that arise in project planning.

Again to repeat: The project structure is a complete possible representation of all work packages and activities in the project. All the work and the current status that has to be done to implement the project should be shown here. And at the same time, the whole thing is structured in sub-projects, sometimes in main work packages, and thus already provides such a small organizational framework for the project. I have already explained to you in this post how you come up with a project structure.

Step 2: Create A Schedule

The next step is: create a schedule. And the reason for this is also apparent, because if I want to know when I need a particular resource – and now, of course, I mean people or equipment – in the project, I have to think about when that will be the case during the period of the project. So when the work package starts and ends.

And how do I do that? With a schedule, of course.

Step 3: Determine Your Resource Requirements

If you have now created a project structure and a schedule, we come to step 3: Determine the required resource requirements. This now happens based on the work packages of the program. How exactly does that work now?

I always do it in such a way that I go through the schedule together with my team. Month after month. In other words, I look at each month, in the course of the project, which work packages and activities have we planned together? And then I think about what efforts are made by the individual people who are supposed to work in these work packages.

So how many hours do the individual people sit on the respective work packages to work through them ultimately? And I write that down. And so, when I’ve done that, for my entire project, there is a large table. The individual months are plotted horizontally; these are the columns, and vertically in the rows, you will find the individual people in the project.

Whether you enter people or something else, I will perhaps detail in Part 2 on resource management.

And in every interface between column and row, I now enter the hours required, per person and month.

Rules Of Thumb For Resource Planning

I plan every month, that is, the resource requirements per person, per month. I don’t plan at the process level and then see when the process starts and ends, and then I somehow convey that. Because in the end, from my point of view, that’s too much effort and too little benefit. Does that mean I always look at how many hours per month I need?

I always plan expenses in hours. And my smallest Quantel, i.e. the smallest planned unit, is usually 5 hours. That corresponds to about a day of work. Yes, yes, I know. You think now that if you have a 40-hour contract, 8 hours should jump out. I will explain why this is not the case in the second post. I try to summarize smaller efforts, things that I think are less than 5 hours. If necessary, I round up, always to 5 hours. I believe that the benefits of very detailed planning are relatively small on an hourly or perhaps half-hour basis. Because, in terms of resource management, it almost doesn’t matter whether something takes one or four hours. Because these efforts balance each other out over the entire project and the month.

Methods For Cost Estimation

How do I estimate now? There are several ways to estimate the effort involved in the project.

The first, and maybe you would say now, is a little flat, I guess. That means I sit down and think together with my team, how many hours are there? And I write the number down.

There are other ways to estimate, for example, the 75 percent method; there is something like that called estimate poker and a few others more. I don’t want to go into detail here. However, further individual contributions are already planned for this. So there will be a little more information on that in the future.

Step 4: Let Resources Be Released

If I have determined the resource requirements, the last step is: Let your resources be released.

And here there is a simple rule – you can hear, I am saying because this rule naturally has some exceptions in practice:

No project starts without approval.

Because the entire planning of appointments, costs and efforts is very closely related, that is also logical. If you need certain people at a certain point to meet a specific deadline in the project, then it is related. And if you don’t get it, you won’t be able to keep the deadline in the project.

For this reason, you should always make sure that you get resource planning approved, i.e. that you get the assurance that the people you have planned are available to the required extent and at the right time; and are not busy with other things.

And who gives you approval? That depends very much on how your company is organized. Sometimes there is something like a project office that collects and evaluates all resource requirements and, in the end, ensures approval. Sometimes you have to go to individual team members and department heads to get support. So you see, it’s very, very different.

What is needed to give a release, i.e. to grant a project the resources, will mainly be the subject of the following article.

When The Planning Changes

Now, of course, we know the following: we make a plan and start working on the project. We have shared resources, and now something is changing. And I think that is also the normal state; Projects change, things don’t work the way we intended, have to be repeated or take longer. People get sick, are not available because they are tied to other, more critical projects and and and and.

So the question is, how do we deal with these changes? What does that mean for our resource planning?

Quite simply: I have to adjust the resource planning, i.e. my requirements, regularly. For projects like the ones I usually have in mind here, i.e. projects with a term of 1-2 years, it makes sense to update the resource planning approximately every three months.

So at least take it to hand and think about it: Does the planning that I have considered fit together with my team, does it still fit the project? That is, every three months, I go through the process I described above and see what has changed? Which work packages have been added, which have been omitted, how are we in terms of timing and what are the resource requirements resulting from this?

And since we already gave a lot of thought to the initial creation, such a revision is usually no longer time-consuming and does not take as long. Of course, in the end, even after a correction, I always need the approval of the planning.

Resource Planning Isn’t Complicated

So you can see that when it comes to resource management, planning is not that complicated if you know what to look out for. And that the trick in resource management is more to anchor it properly in the company.

Also Read: Rollout Management – The Way To New Software

Step 2: Create A Schedule

The next step is: create a schedule. And the reason for this is also apparent, because if I want to know when I need a particular resource – and now, of course, I mean people or equipment – in the project, I have to think about when that will be the case during the period of the project. So when the work package starts and ends.

And how do I do that? With a schedule, of course.

Step 3: Determine Your Resource Requirements

If you have now created a project structure and a schedule, we come to step 3: Determine the required resource requirements. This now happens based on the work packages of the program. How exactly does that work now?

I always do it in such a way that I go through the schedule together with my team. Month after month. In other words, I look at each month, in the course of the project, which work packages and activities have we planned together? And then I think about what efforts are made by the individual people who are supposed to work in these work packages.

So how many hours do the individual people sit on the respective work packages to work through them ultimately? And I write that down. And so, when I’ve done that, for my entire project, there is a large table. The individual months are plotted horizontally; these are the columns, and vertically in the rows, you will find the individual people in the project.

Whether you enter people or something else, I will perhaps detail in Part 2 on resource management.

And in every interface between column and row, I now enter the hours required, per person and month.

Rules Of Thumb For Resource Planning

I plan every month, that is, the resource requirements per person, per month. I don’t plan at the process level and then see when the process starts and ends, and then I somehow convey that. Because in the end, from my point of view, that’s too much effort and too little benefit. Does that mean I always look at how many hours per month I need?

I always plan expenses in hours. And my smallest Quantel, i.e. the smallest planned unit, is usually 5 hours. That corresponds to about a day of work. Yes, yes, I know. You think now that if you have a 40-hour contract, 8 hours should jump out. I will explain why this is not the case in the second post. I try to summarize smaller efforts, things that I think are less than 5 hours. If necessary, I round up, always to 5 hours. I believe that the benefits of very detailed planning are relatively small on an hourly or perhaps half-hour basis. Because, in terms of resource management, it almost doesn’t matter whether something takes one or four hours. Because these efforts balance each other out over the entire project and the month.

Methods For Cost Estimation

How do I estimate now? There are several ways to estimate the effort involved in the project.

The first, and maybe you would say now, is a little flat, I guess. That means I sit down and think together with my team, how many hours are there? And I write the number down.

There are other ways to estimate, for example, the 75 percent method; there is something like that called estimate poker and a few others more. I don’t want to go into detail here. However, further individual contributions are already planned for this. So there will be a little more information on that in the future.

Step 4: Let Resources Be Released

If I have determined the resource requirements, the last step is: Let your resources be released.

And here there is a simple rule – you can hear, I am saying because this rule naturally has some exceptions in practice:

No project starts without approval.

Because the entire planning of appointments, costs and efforts is very closely related, that is also logical. If you need certain people at a certain point to meet a specific deadline in the project, then it is related. And if you don’t get it, you won’t be able to keep the deadline in the project.

For this reason, you should always make sure that you get resource planning approved, i.e. that you get the assurance that the people you have planned are available to the required extent and at the right time; and are not busy with other things.

And who gives you approval? That depends very much on how your company is organized. Sometimes there is something like a project office that collects and evaluates all resource requirements and, in the end, ensures approval. Sometimes you have to go to individual team members and department heads to get support. So you see, it’s very, very different.

What is needed to give a release, i.e. to grant a project the resources, will mainly be the subject of the following article.

When The Planning Changes

Now, of course, we know the following: we make a plan and start working on the project. We have shared resources, and now something is changing. And I think that is also the normal state; Projects change, things don’t work the way we intended, have to be repeated or take longer. People get sick, are not available because they are tied to other, more critical projects and and and and.

So the question is, how do we deal with these changes? What does that mean for our resource planning?

Quite simply: I have to adjust the resource planning, i.e. my requirements, regularly. For projects like the ones I usually have in mind here, i.e. projects with a term of 1-2 years, it makes sense to update the resource planning approximately every three months.

So at least take it to hand and think about it: Does the planning that I have considered fit together with my team, does it still fit the project? That is, every three months, I go through the process I described above and see what has changed? Which work packages have been added, which have been omitted, how are we in terms of timing and what are the resource requirements resulting from this?

And since we already gave a lot of thought to the initial creation, such a revision is usually no longer time-consuming and does not take as long. Of course, in the end, even after a correction, I always need the approval of the planning.

Resource Planning Isn’t Complicated

So you can see that when it comes to resource management, planning is not that complicated if you know what to look out for. And that the trick in resource management is more to anchor it properly in the company.

Also Read: Agility In Management & Team:Success Factors For Agile Transformation

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