Resource planning is probably one of the most complex aspects of running projects within an organisation and also covers a multitude of inter-related concepts. Typically, with resource planning you want to answer questions like:
- Do I have enough resources with the right skills to execute on my portfolio of projects?
- Who is currently under-allocated and who is over-allocated?
- Which projects are consuming which resources within the organisation?
- Which additional projects can I take on with the resources that I have?
- How many additional resources and of what type will I require if I take on an additional project?
- If I delay or fast track a project, what will the impact be on my resource utilisation?
If these are the types of questions that you want answered, then this article will show you how PPO can assist.
Before we go any further, we need to define a couple of the concepts related to resource planning and explain how they are implemented in PPO.
Capacity is the resources that you have available that can perform work on projects, typically measured in (working) hours. This concept is tied to a person and in PPO each employee contributes to your overall capacity. However, not every employee is necessarily available for project work and not every employee has the same number of hours available per day (e.g. some employees may work only half days). Capacity is also influenced by other factors such as week-ends and public holidays.
PPO calculates capacity per employee per day which can then be rolled up by any attribute on the employee entity e.g. Department or Job Title or by some time interval e.g. month, for use in reporting. For a detailed discussion of how PPO calculates capacity, refer to the FAQ article "How does PPO calculate resource capacity?".
Now that you have a grip on your capacity, the next step is to start allocating work to employees. PPO allows a lot of flexibility in this regard to allow you to use a mechanism that is suitable for the maturity of your organisation (in terms of resource management and capacity planning) as well as how you run and manage projects or work in your environment.
The 3 main mechanisms for allocating resources in PPO are:
- High level resource allocation
- Project schedules
- Other, e.g. work items, tickets
You can use any of these mechanisms to drive your resource allocation or even a combination of them. Let's now look at each one in a bit more detail.
High level resource allocation
If you only want to assign resources to a project at a high level instead of to individual tasks, you can use the Resource Allocation entity to accomplish this.
As an example, and as illustrated in the screenshot below, you know that on the Compliance Front-end project you will need a project manager for 2.5 days a week (50% of his capacity) as well as two other resources for 1 day a week each (20% of their capacity) for the entire duration of the project.
If you create a detailed schedule for your projects, this can provide a very accurate picture of your projected resource utilisation. In PPO your schedule is represented as tasks, which get allocated to specific resources. You can create tasks manually in PPO or import them from either Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project using the Task Import Wizard.
As can be seen from the screenshot below, it is very similar to when you are using high level resource allocation, except that the work that is assigned to the employee is done at the individual task level.
Other ways to do resource allocation
Using high level resource allocation or project schedules to drive your resource allocation may not be appropriate for your organisation. As an example, let's say that you are an IT company and have embraced AGILE development. You still want to be able to do resource allocation but on your instance you have a "Work Item" entity that is used to assign work to employees.
PPO is flexible enough to accommodate this or any other similar requirement, e.g. tickets. The only pre-requisite is that the entity that you want to use has a project, an employee, a start date, an end date and a percentage allocation. It should be noted that any of these values could be calculated e.g. for work items, the start and end dates can be derived from the sprint that the work item is linked to.
If you would like to use a different entity to do resource allocation, log a ticket with our support desk who will be happy to assist.
Using a combination of approaches
By default, PPO will use only Resource Allocation records in order to determine resource allocation. You can however use task based resource allocation for some projects and resource allocation records for other projects. PPO can be configured to use a combination of the methods described above based on your specific requirement. If you would like to do this, then please log a ticket with our support desk.
Now that we have looked at capacity and resource allocation, we can bring the two concepts together to determine which of our employees are over or under allocated. PPO provides a number of dashboards and reports like the Planning Heat Map shown below that are useful for this purpose.
Some other reports and dashboards that you can use to determine over/under allocation include:
PPO provides several dashboards and reports that allow you to get an understanding of where your resources are being utilised. This is useful both from a portfolio as well as a project perspective. The screenshot below shows an example of the planned hours per project per month from the Planning Dashboard - Projects dashboard.
If you are also using the PPO timesheet functionality, you can combine the actual time spent on projects to what was originally planned as shown in the extract from the Planned vs Actual Report.
You can also combine the planning information with resource rates to determine your resource budget on projects or do cost / revenue forecasts as shown in the below extract from the Planned Resource Costing Report.
The following dashboards and reports may be useful to assist with understanding the resources being utilised on projects:
- Planning Dashboard - Projects
- Daily Planning Detail Report
- Monthly Planning Detail Report
- Planned Resource Costing Report
- Planned vs Actual Report
- Project-centric Planning Report