Magical Number 6 When Resource Planning

I cannot promise the number six (6) will magically solve all your resource management issues, like pulling a rabbit from a hat, however, if you use my suggested resource views you will improve your chances to have the right people working for you at the right time. Know your resource numbers with confidence!

Life of a Project Manager (PM) is constantly looking at what you are doing, who is going to do it, when does it need doing and how long will it take. Yes, you may have a schedule with milestones, linked dependencies, lag indicators and much more but does it tell the story about your resource plan?

What skills are needed? Do you have someone available? Do you need to bring in a specialist? The questions are repeated every time you add another activity to the schedule or need to resolve an issue.

Although over the past 10 years there has been considerable improvement in the project management tools to help you plan resources and report on their utilisation, there’s no doubt resource management continues to be a challenge for you. Most days in project resource meetings you will hear comments like…

“we have conflicting priorities so cannot release John to do that for you”

“sorry we are unable to secure a developer for that work”

“when is Pam returning to our team, she has already done the 100 hrs you wanted her for”

…no doubt you have heard lots more.

Resource Forecast

Let’s look ahead 6 months. What do you know about your resource plan at this point:

  • the role you need to complete the work
  • the level of skill and knowledge the role needs to provide
  • an estimated duration and effort for how long you will need the role on your team
  • the deliverables the role will be responsible for• budgeted hourly rate for the role
  • how you will go about filling a role when the organisation does not have that skillset

At this point, you should not be concerned with who (the name of the resource) unless it is a specialist role for a high-risk deliverable.

Your resource plan should be reviewed regularly with your resource manager to ensure you are highlighting any known resource gaps early.

Resource Allocation

Ok, you are organised, you have confidence in your plan and are looking 6 weeks ahead to make sure you have the right people in place at the right time.

At this point, you have agreed with the resource manager the person allocated to your team is the right fit for the work that will be assigned to them. Next, you update the schedule with the resource’s name and invite them to meet the team. Ensure your new team member understands what is expected and what the schedule looks like so you can manage conflicts across delivery teams (some people may also call these teams business units, operational teams, resource pools, etc).

Resource Utilisation

The team is doing great work, they are completing activities and recording effort in their timesheets. On your resource utilisation report do you see a pattern of 6 hours per day – you should, if not let’s understand what could be causing that.

Although resources may be available to you for 36-40 hours per week they actually are not productive 100% of the time, don’t panic this is normal. The key is to have your project team members submit their timesheets accurately. The time spent with coffee breaks, corridor chats, fire drills, meetings that are not for the project should be recorded as an administration overhead task.

I’ll share a little secret…to have confidence in getting the most out of your project team an individual resource is productive 1,300 hours per annum (I provide more detail around this in my workshops).

The magical number 6 should be used for guiding resource forecasting, allocation and utilisation to help achieve better resource management results in your organisation and for your project teams.What processes and reports do you have in place to help resource managers provide the skilled team members to meet the demands of your project schedule?

What processes and reports do you have in place to help resource managers provide the skilled team members to meet the demands of your project schedule?

Written by Jeanette Cremor
Independent Project Consultant

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