Resource planning metrics help you track and evaluate the performance of your tasks and projects.
Without measuring our projects and their results, it’s difficult to impossible to assess their success. And it’s only by monitoring and measuring the right metrics, are we able to see our team’s effort. While also redirecting the processes if need be.
Here’s 6 of the most crucial resource planning metrics that can aid in building a more efficient workplace.
No matter your business’s size or industry, planning metrics are important. Without them, how would you know:
So while it’s not advisable to blindly rely on statistics and data, they do represent an important way to get feedback and make improvements. This also means that when choosing how to measure your results, there’s a lot that needs to be considered. But don’t worry. We can help!
Before you can implement measurement indicators, you need to decide which ones are best for you. So how do you select your resource planning indicators? There’s a few ways.
However you decide which planning metric to use, heed the warning of Harold Kerzner, the author of Project Management Metrics, KPIs, and Dashboards. He wrote that,
“Providing too many metrics and KPIs may be an invitation for stakeholders to micromanage the project.”
As such, more metrics do not equal better performance. Instead, select the ones that serve a purpose and don’t go overboard with them.
So, be careful to not be overly reliant on these. Because these tend not to be very dynamic, and can’t always account for last-minute changes.
Whichever ones you do choose, though, follow them through and be sure to track them for the best results. Next, we’ll suggest a few metrics you may consider implementing as they can show you important information about your project.
We’ll keep it pretty simple and limit the number of planning metrics to 6. They will be broken down according to what exactly they measure. Our top resource planning metrics are:
We can start with what may be considered one of the most important metrics of them all, cost. Not only is this important for stakeholders, but staying within budget can make the whole team happy as well.
Cost variance definition: measures the budgeted amount against the actual costs that were spent on a project or task.
Used in: individual project and resource management.
To calculate the cost variance, you only need to compare the planned budget to the actual budget. Although this sounds easy, it can get more complicated the more projects, resources, and variables you have. Though on the flip side, the more details you compare, the more you can get from this KPI.
With Ganttic, the software can tabulate the amount for you. With just a few simple clicks in the reporting section. Or you can automatically set it so a report can be generated at any time interval that suits you. All you need to do is fill in your resource cost information, via custom resource data fields. Then, log in the actual used time while a personalized report is created for you.
A weekly report can be a quick and stress-free way to view your progress and keep track of your budget. The reports can also be shared with stakeholders. So everyone who needs to know, is “in the know.”
Utilization is generally shown as percentage (%) and is how much a resource is used. Below are some great metrics which look at resource capacity and utilization.
Resource capacity utilization definition: Resource capacity utilization is the percentage of a resource’s work hours occupied by projects or tasks. Utilization planning is the part of resource management that makes it possible to maximize resource efficiency.
Used in: Resource capacity utilization metrics are part of project management and high-level resource planning.
There’s two calculations to find out your resource’s capacity utilization:
– Scheduled or Forecasted Utilization:
Scheduled Utilization = Scheduled time/ resource capacity
- Actual or Reported Utilization:
Actual Utilization = Reported time/ resource capacity
In Ganttic, utilization percentage is displayed next to the resource title. And it’s updated whenever a new task is scheduled. Resource utilization optimal if the utilization is between 90 and 100% for tools and equipment. And around 70% for people.
And since we’re on the subject, a word of warning. Remember, it’s not healthy to assume that productivity is going to be at 100% at all times. This kind of planning will only lead to burnout faster. And what appears to be more productivity in the beginning, quickly becomes more stress, staff. shortages, and higher turnover.
In the case of human resource utilization, take some advice from a pro. The resource manager of our client Innopolis Engineering recommended,
“I guess in resource planning many project managers make the mistake of booking people at full capacity. However, in reality, employees get sick, or they have inspirational coffee breaks, trainings, or different courses. This means that on average people work 6.5-7 hours per day, not the full 8 hours. Taking that into consideration, I have set the work time to 7 hours in Ganttic.”
While scheduling, you can sort your resources according to the utilization percentage. By doing so, you’ll be able to reallocate resources if someone is overbooked and add tasks to those that lack responsibilities. If you are looking for a resource with a certain skill, you can add a filter with that skill to find out if there are unoccupied resources with the appropriate skill set.
Group utilization definition: Group and project portfolio is how well groups of projects or your project portfolio is utilized. Much like resource capacity utilization, it is measured as a percentage. And changes depending on your grouping.
Used in: High-level planning, groups of projects or project portfolios.
In Ganttic, you can build custom resource groups including department, team, location, etc. Each resource can be in multiple resource groups that can be analyzed separately by choosing the group in question.
For example, you can see on the screenshot above that the engineering department was going through some rough times from January until May. At the same time, the marketing department had no assignments. However, it’s not going to be a smooth ride either of them in Q3.
With the right project portfolio management software, it’s simple to get a comprehensive overview of the resource utilization across the portfolios. With plenty of insight into how the projects are laid out.
For example, in Ganttic, you’ll get a pretty good idea of the portfolio utilization if you group the resources by projects and collapse the groups (please note that the utilization graphs must be turned on in the general settings).
Doing so, you’ll have a utilization heatmap. Then the periods with the lowest utilization are light grey. While the periods with the highest utilization are dark grey.
Another thing that you could do is create a chart where you select resource utilization as chart values and project titles as chart data. As you can see on the screenshot below, June would have been a pretty sad month for this organization
You must keep in mind that this kind of high-level metrics will not tell you much about individual utilization of the resources. A single resource can still be overutilized even if there is a slot on the timeline in a more general sense.
Here we’ll take a look at metrics that focus specifically on your projects’ resources.
Planned vs used resources definition: Planned resources are the estimated number of resources you will use in a given task, project, or strategy. Resources in use are the actual resources being used.
Used in: Project management and high-level resource planning
After some time has passed, you’ll reach a milestone or the end of the project. Then, you can compare the original and the current state of the resource schedule.
This is one of the easiest resource planning metrics to employ. Yet, doing so will give you insight into your initial estimates. Armed with this knowledge, you can evaluate the health of the project. As well as your planning effectiveness.
Not to mention, you’ll know where your resources are at any given time. This allows you to keep an eye on what everyone and everything is doing.
In Ganttic, you can monitor this metric by running a report at the start of the planning period and when reaching a milestone.
These metrics use “time” to measure the success or failure of a project, task, or goal.
Planned vs used time definition: Planned time is the estimated timeframe of your task, project, or strategy. While, used time is the actual timeframe in which your task was accomplished.
Used in: individual project and resource management.
With this planning metric you can help your team to not be overburdened. While ensuring that no one is taking on too many projects at once. With a better understanding of how long projects and tasks actually take, then you can stagger your projects most efficiently. This will ultimately help optimize your resources’ productivity. And get a better output.
In the project management context, the project team usually has to log the time they actually used to complete a task. In Ganttic, this can be done using the used time feature.
Doomstay metric definition: Not really a planning metric per se. But a measurement of when to call it quits on a project. And a “when to vacate the premises” metric.
Used in: individual project and resource management.
There are plenty of reasons why projects fail. And for many large projects, bringing it back might be more costly than its worth. This is the case when the costs for bringing the project back are no longer aligned with the benefits. Or when the goals of the project will not serve a purpose anymore.
Keeping a project live that should be killed, is keeping valuable resources imprisoned. As well as draining the budget of funds that could be used on other projects. That is why a process should be established to make it easier to pull the kill switch. To do this, you should also establish metrics that indicate when a project is in trouble.
There’s no standard process for killing a project. However, Harold Kerzner suggested 23 early warning signs that might indicate that the project requires further attention.
23 Warning Signs Your Project is in Trouble
1. Business case deterioration
2. Different opinions on the project’s purpose and objectives
3. Unhappy/disinterested stakeholders and steering committee members
4. Continuous criticism by stakeholders
5. Changes in stakeholders without any warning
6. No longer a demand for the deliverables or the product
7. Invisible sponsorship
8. Delayed decisions resulting in missed deadlines
9. High-tension meetings with team and stakeholders
10. Finger-pointing and poor acceptance of responsibility
11. Lack of organizational process assets
12. Failing to close life cycle phases properly
13. High turnover of personnel, especially critical workers
14. Unrealistic expectations
15. Failure in progress reporting
16. Technical failure
17. Having to work excessive hours and with heavy workloads
18. Unclear milestones and other requirements
19. Poor morale
20. Everything is a crisis
21. Poor attendance at team meetings
22. Surprises, slow identification of problems, and constant rework
23. A poor change control process
At any of these points, some organizations might choose to bring in an external consultant. This is strongly recommended. Since it will give you a perspective of someone who regularly analyzes projects that might be in trouble.
It’s up to you and your company what resource planning metrics and KPIs you decide to use. This list of 6 is by no means comprehensive. But should give you some good ideas about what you can, and perhaps even SHOULD measure. Keep in mind that although these indicators are important, there’s a human factor that goes into running a company. So use them wisely!
It’s also helpful if you pair these metrics with some great planning software. Programs such as Ganttic can do some of the hard parts, so actually putting these metrics into practice can be a breeze.
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