I stumbled upon a research paper by Zohar Laslo titled Project portfolio management: An integrated method for resource planning and scheduling to minimize planning/scheduling-dependent expenses. Of course, I was intrigued and had to read it. How couldn’t you if it’s a paper on PPM and resource planning and it’s about keeping your projects in the budget. The method that is suggested in the paper is an extension of the optimization model for job-shop with several machines and chance-constrained deliveries. It determines in advance the hiring and releasing points of experts that maximize economic gain using chance-constrained delivery commitments. Sounds too good to be true, right? A model that tells you exactly when you need your experts to step in and out in advance so that you wouldn’t have to make any redundant expenses? Well, you are going to have to have a look at it and try it out yourself. I’m going to give you some tips how your resource planning tool can help you out.
Before you get started, take a look at the current state of your resources. And by this I don’t mean you should look Tim from development department in the eye and evaluate what the years that have passed have done to him. I mean you should log in to your resource planning software, and open up a time period that your new project is going to be in. Make sure that you have capacity utilization percentages turned on. In the general resource view, group your resources by resource group or type. Take a screenshot or write down those percentages. This is going to be your initial resource capacity. Then, move on to the steps suggested by Laslo.
1. Determine the project’s priority position within the portfolio of projects. You already know that one is one of the central rules of project portfolio management. You have to have priorities. All projects can’t be equal if you have limited resources. As I have repeated many times – multitasking isn’t a real option. Not for you or your project team. Prioritize. If you have already done that, make sure you are keeping those priorities in mind while scheduling resources.
2. Deploy the needs during the project’s life cycle for each of the resource types, assuming expected activity duration as deterministic times and assuming ‘‘earliest start” scheduling of eligible activities. And now, make sure you are looking at the whole life cycle of the project. Think about the transitions from one stage of the project to the another. But this is not the place where you are considering the worst case scenarios. This is the place for the average. Make sure you are flipping through all the resource groups, and aren’t missing anything.
3. Calculate the project’s average need for each of the resource types in each of the planning periods. Again, the average. Do some calculations. Draw up a mock up plan in your resource planning software to have clear visualization of every task and resource. If you have your resources grouped by type, you’ll see the utilization percentage of each group during different periods of the project’s’ life cycle.
4. Sum up the periodic requirements of the portfolio of projects for each of the resource types. This is where drawing up a mock up plan for the project is really going to help out. It doesn’t matter if you have the general resource view or a view of the specific project open, you’ll see the tasks of the other projects, and can see the total utilization of each resource group or type. Pay attention to your core team, individual experts, and the other resources you have in hand separately.
5. Compare the total requirements for each resource type in each of the planning periods to the current (initial) resource capacity and as sequence adjust the company resource capacities. This is the time where you go back to the initial state that you analyzed in the beginning. Now we are going to make sure that the way you are planning resources isn’t wasting your project budget.
a) If the periodic resource capacities disable the full satisfaction of the requirements, expand the capacities of the succeeding planning periods taking into consideration the mobilization response time by:
– the average shortage/redundancy in the three following planning periods if the sum shows shortage, for the normal workforce.
b) If the periodic resource capacities show overflows, discharge the capacities of the succeeding planning periods to the discharge response time by:
– the average shortage/redundancy in the three following planning periods to the discharge response time when the sum shows redundancy.
This is the part where you have to do some real thinking and moving around things accordingly. Lucky for you, changing tasks’ length is really easy in Ganttic. Just move the cursor to the end of the task and drag it forward or back until you have reached the desired length. A pop-up window will open. There, you can adjust the changes made if needed and save everything.
6. For each of the resource types, compare the total requirements vs. the available capacity in the current planning period and if full satisfaction is possible:
– allocate the required capacity to each of the projects, and the remaining capacity keep in the functional unit (as unemployed capacity).
You don’t actually have to use all the resources to maximal capacity during the planning period. You know you’ll have to make changes and reallocate resources during the life-cycle of the project.
If the full satisfaction isn’t possible:
– for individual experts – allocate the individual expert to the project in which its employment during the current planning period is maximal
– for normal workforce – outsource the incomplete capacity and allocate the required capacity to each of the projects.
This is where you have to remember the priorities of your project portfolio. Reallocate experts to projects where their skills can be used to the full extent during their employment time.
7. Sample 1000 sets of project activity durations. For math purposes.
8. Schedule repeatedly under resource constraints each of the 1000 project activities sets by the MINSLK heuristic dispatching rule (Monte Carlo Simulation).
9. Calculate the outputs of the Monte Carlo Simulation.
If you want to give the model a fair try, definitely read the full research paper and dig into the math behind it. This article will give you the idea and some tips but to really get into it, you’ll have to do some serious calculations. But you already know that. This isn’t your first rodeo.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject and whether or not you are going to try it out if this is the first time you are hearing about it.
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