Resource Requirements For A Project
The means to achieve project objectives
Resources are the means we use to achieve project objectives. The primary resource is obviously people with applicable skills and competencies. The other main grouping of resources we need include capital, facilities, equipment, material and information. There is usually a gap between the investment reach of a project and the project demands. See diagram 1 below
In order to ensure a cost effective application of required resources we must perform a proper needs analysis in order to define the project goals and objectives. The project’s baseline that must be resourced will be known after a requirement specification has been completed. The WBS is the base document for determining resource requirements. The requirement specification will spell out the real requirements to achieve through the specific project.
The objective of this article is to provide some guidelines and advice to determine resource requirements and the process of acquiring and managing resources.
Inputs to resource planning
- The WBS identifies the project elements that will need resources. It is therefore the primary input to resource planning
- Historical information as to what types of resources were required for similar work on previous projects is valuable input. In many instances there are industry standards available that you can consult
- The scope statement contains the project justification and the project objectives which should be considered
- A resource pool description is another useful input. It constitutes knowledge of what resources (people, equipment and material) are potentially available
Resource estimation is a structured prediction of the cost and other resources required to execute a task. One of the primary functions of the process is to establish a control basis. Therefore the more accurate the estimation, the more reliable the control system becomes.
The required accuracy and effort going into resource estimation can be influenced by the element of uncertainty and risk involved because of technical complexity and novelty of the project. The expected price basis of the contract could make resource estimation a critical factor. The higher the risk the more important it becomes to have a realistic estimation, which implies a more detailed process.
The amount of effort that it will take to complete a task is also important. Effort is determined by the time it will take to complete a task. Once you understand the effort that’s required for a project, you can assign resources to determine how long the project will take and estimate human resources and other resource costs.
A properly documented Resource Plan will specify the exact quantities of human resources, equipment and materials needed to complete your project.
Resource acquisition refers to the process of physically securing the necessary inputs. All resources required have to be paid for in some way or another. The financing of a project therefore plays an essential role in the acquisition process.
The acquisition process must be managed properly to take care of possible seasonal shortages, labor disputes, equipment breakdowns, competing demands, delayed deliveries and other things that may go wrong. The project plan may have to be modified to accommodate or work around supply problems.
Resource leveling is the process that ensures resource demand does not exceed resource availability and vice versa. We don’t want extreme peaks and valleys in the execution of the tasks. The first step is usually to move non-critical tasks with float to a later date. If you are forced to reschedule a task on the critical path it would influence the completion dates of successive tasks. Check to see whether it will have an influence on meeting the project deadline.
Human resource planning
We use a responsibility assignment matrix to allocate roles and responsibilities. The WBS (work breakdown structure) is the primary document for doing this. List the project activities on the left-hand side of the matrix and role-players on top of the matrix. List a brief description of the work to be done in the matrix cells. After completion of the RAM you will know exactly who will do what on the project and what their respective roles are. If it is a large project you can then draw up an organisation chart for the project. Once the staff have been assigned you can plan for briefings, coaching, training and all the activities re the management of the project teams and staff.
The different types and quantities of resources must be allocated to the project as needed to perform the activities. A schedule for this must be maintained to ensure that the allocation process takes place on time and in the right quantities. In many disciplines there are specific methods and documentation to ensure this e.g. a bill of materials. There may also be some conflicting needs for equipment that must be managed.
The delivery of resources is a very important point. During contracting you must know exactly where resources will be originated and where it will be delivered to. Sometimes delivery to site is a good option. You don’t want to be liable for transportation costs of equipment that may be sourced more than thousand kilometers away.
Although I have discussed the most important aspects in this article there are many other tasks to perform in order to deal with the resource requirement process fully. The resourcing of a project will also be dependent on the procurement process which includes selection criteria, resource cycles, payment and storage. Examine your project and decide how the project should be resourced and what the critical factors are.
You can access free web based resource planning software at http://www.ganttic.com
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