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سه‌شنبه 8 خرداد‌ماه سال 1386

Chapter5-1:Resource Planning

Resource Planning

You may think you know who and what you need to complete the project work, but if you try to just start grabbing resources where you can and assigning tasks, you may quickly find your project at a standstill. Remember all those task dependencies we identified in Chapter 3? Tasks that must happen in sequence drive the need for the resources to complete those tasks in the same sequence. If you take the time to identify all of the resources you need for the project, you will get the people and the equipment that you need at the time you actually need them.

The first step in cost planning is resource planning , which means determining the following:

  • The resources the project needs, in the form of both human, equipment, and material resources. The quantity of each resource required to complete the work for your project (e.g., two servers, four person-hours, etc.).

After all, you cannot do an accurate estimate of your project costs if you have not identified the resources to complete the project.

Luckily, your previous planning processes provide the inputs you need to identify your resources. For example, an input you might’ve received at requirement-gathering time was “the system will be browser-based and made available over the intranet.” Intuitively then, you know that you’ll need human resources to provide web programming and also human and material resources to hook what was developed into the corporate intranet.

Before you start the resource planning process, review your scope statement and WBS and investigate whether you can obtain historical resource information from similar projects. Understanding the resources from a similar project may help you get started in the right direction. It is also a good idea to review any specific corporate policies regarding allocation of resources to projects. For example, corporate policy may require you to obtain formal department-head approval before utilizing any more than 40 hours of an employee’s time who is not in your department.

Tip 

One of the good things about a project management office (PMO) is that corporate heads have realized the common sense in formalizing the project management process and will probably have already approved formal standards and policies for how projects are started and run.

Although the project team members may get the most attention during resource planning, there is more to resource planning than just the staffing requirements. We will take you through the three types of project resources you need to identify before you start estimating your costs. After providing an understanding of what is meant by project resources, we will move on to identifying the specific types of resources you need for each of the project tasks.

Types of Resources

When you mention project resources, the first thought that comes to mind is the people required to complete the project activities. Although people are certainly an important component and perhaps the one you’ll pay the most attention to, resource planning involves far more than just the project team. Focusing on just the people can cause major disruptions down the road when you find you do not have the workstations you need or there is no power supply in your training room. It turns out that it’s the little things that bite you. You must plan for three different and equally important types of resources: human resources, equipment, and material.

Human Resources

Human resources are the people with the background and skills to complete the tasks on your project schedule. You are not going to forget that you need people to complete the work associated with the project, but defining the right people can be a little more complicated.

It is important that people knowledgeable in the work required to perform a given task are involved in identifying the skilled labor component for each project task. You need to involve project team members or the functional managers providing the resources. For example, who better to tell you who is the best choice for a web programming project than the manager of the applications development department?

Your request for project staffing may need to span numerous internal organizations, depending on the nature of your project. Do not assume, just because this is an IT project, that all of the resources will come from the IT organization. As an example, an IT technical writer may not be the best choice to develop a user training package if he or she cannot explain the concept in a language the user can understand. A business methods writer from the client organization may be a better choice. By identifying the skill set required for each activity, you will have the data to determine which group can provide the appropriate people.

Equipment

Equipment includes anything from specialized test tools to new servers or additional PCs for the programming team. Equipment is very often a critical component of IT projects. Some types of equipment have long lead times from when the order is placed, so your upfront planning needs to be very thorough.

If you are developing a new piece of software and think your application can run on an existing server, check to make sure that is a correct assumption. Even if the server currently has free space, it may be reserved for another application. If you will be doing extensive testing, determine whether you will have access to existing test equipment or whether special equipment will be needed for your project.

For any task that involves development, testing, or delivery of your product, determine any special equipment needs associated with the completion of that task. Be particularly aware of any needs outside of IT. If the project schedule includes user acceptance testing, how will this be accomplished? Has a location been identified and does that location contain the necessary equipment for the users to complete the test scenarios? If a hardware component isn’t identified until after project execution is in progress, an added cost for expedited delivery or a schedule delay may result.

Materials

Materials is kind of a catchall category that includes utility requirements such as software, electricity, or water, any supplies you will need for the project, or other consumable goods.

Failure to think through and plan for materials can lead to major issues. If your project requires a special training room, you will probably identify the need for PCs when you plan your equipment needs. What you may not think about are the connections for power for each of the PCs or a need to have them connect to a corporate local area network (LAN). If you are equipping a training room, make sure you understand what it comes with and what you will need to provide in order to conduct the training associated with your project. This same scenario could apply to any specialized workspace required to complete the project work.

Materials can trip you up if you do not have a good understanding of what is considered a supply that is just part conducting normal business versus what is considered unique to the project. You may not have to identify paper, pens, and file folders, but if you want each team member to have a copy of Microsoft Project, it probably needs to be included as part of the project resource requirements. If there is any question, check out your departmental policy—do not assume it is covered under the functional budget.

Note 

One interesting thing that you’ll run into when you begin to test a web application is the idea of mimicking the load that a website can handle, that is, how many thousands of hits can it take at once and still stay functional? One of your material resource planning items might be load software that is able to introduce a load onto the developed website in order to test its ability to withstand numerous hits. You may not have considered this element as you’re going through your resource planning efforts, which is why it’s good to bounce identified resources off of the tech folks that will be working on the project’s deliverables.

Now that you understand the types of resources you need to be concerned with, you can start assigning resources to your project tasks.

Defining Resource Requirements

Armed with an understanding of the three types of project resources, your scope statement, and your WBS, you are ready to start defining the resources needed to complete your project. This process will give you the output of resource planning, the resource requirements . The resource requirements document contains a description of the resources needed from all three resource types for each of your work package items from the WBS. Figure 5.1 illustrates resource requirements in a scope statement form.

Click To expand
Figure 5.1: Resource Requirements

During the resource planning process, you do not need to be concerned with identifying the names of people who will complete the work. What you need to identify in resource requirements is a generic human resource based on job title or job description, that is, “web programmer” or “server administrator.” We will discuss in more detail how you actually go about acquiring human resources when we discuss organizational planning in Chapter 6, “Additional Planning Processes.”

Job Descriptions and Titles

A tool that can be very useful for developing the human resource requirements is a resource pool description . This is a list of all the job titles within your company. If you work in a very large corporation, you may want only those job titles associated with a specific department(s). This list provides a brief description of the job and may identify the number of people currently employed in each job title. Check with your departmental human resources representative to see if this type of information is tracked in your organization, and if it can be made available to you for resource planning purposes. If this type of data is not available or if it is confidential, you could look at resource information from similar projects as a guide to the various job functions you made need to identify. Corporate organizational charts are also a source of information on job titles, although they do not usually include job descriptions.

For some tasks you may not have an exact job title for each of your human resources, but you do know that you need someone from a particular department. For other tasks, you may need to enter into a contract with an outside company, in which case, you may need a resource from the legal department to work on the contract negotiation.

Equipment and Material Descriptions

A description of available equipment or material resources is not as typical as a list of job titles and descriptions, so you may need to do some homework to identify those resources. One of the big questions you need to answer is what materials or equipment the project is expected to provide for the team members. When people are assigned to projects in your organization, do they come with the equipment they will need to do the job? My experience has been that most project team resources supplied by a functional manager have an assigned workspace that includes a PC, phone line, and other basic work tools such as pens, notebooks, etc. In some instances, project workers are collocated, which requires at least part of the team to move to new office space. You need to determine whether the policy of your organization is to move equipment with the person or is the project manager accountable for providing everything. If the team is going to be collocated, is existing workspace available or will the project budget need to fund the build out of cubicles?

New applications projects need a server or mainframe on which to reside. If there are standards as to what hardware platforms can be used, your project application needs to run on approved equipment. An existing piece of hardware may have available space for your application or you may need to purchase hardware. If your project involves a hardware purchase, you need to identify any materials required to house the new equipment, such as power supply or ventilation.

In most application development arenas, applications development managers like to maintain three separate environments: development (Dev), test (Test) and production (Prod). Applications programmers (coders) and database administrators (DBAs) work on the software modules in the Dev environment. When a module is ready for testing, it’s moved to the Test area where it’s tested. When everything works, the code is moved to Prod. In bigger, more stringent shops, the person doing the moving from Dev to Test isn’t the same as the one moving from Test to Prod. If you don’t maintain a Dev/Test/Prod environment while you develop your project’s software, chances are you’ll encounter a lot more problems with the code than if you obey the Dev/Test/ Prod environment protocol.

Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM)

You need some tools or templates to keep track of all the resource requirements. A good tool to use for defining and documenting your resource requirements is a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) . A RAM is a chart that matches your WBS tasks with the required resources. Table 5.1 depicts the start of a RAM for an IT development project.

Table 5.1: Sample Project Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM)

Task

Programmer

tester

Marketing

Tech Writer

Server

A

     

1

 

B

2

       

C

 

3

   

1

D

4

       

E

   

1

   
Note 

Be sure to include any resources with one-time or fixed costs that will be purchased from your project budget.

In the above example, for each task we have identified the resource(s) required to complete the work and inserted the quantity of each resource for each task. This gives us not only the resources needed for each task, but the quantity of each resource as well.

Susan is a project manager for a large corporation based in the Pacific Northwest. The corporate managers decided to build a new building to house all of the departments in one place. The company planned to save money by reducing lease contracts and increasing the level of efficiency because coworkers would be in closer proximity to one another. Susan was put in charge of a project to move all the people into the new building. The project would take about 6 months and she would be required to move 1,000 people in “move waves” with a total of six waves.

Shortly after she received the project, Susan met with the building’s contractor to discuss the location of the different departments and the datacenters, for the servers as well as the power, and determine lighting diagrams for the cubicles throughout the building and the datacenter. The contractor noted to Susan that in the interest of saving money, the corporate engineers had opted to reduce the amount of electrical cables—called “whips”—in the datacenter, though he assured her he thought he had planned for enough connections.

Susan discovered, on interviewing the contact in each department, that even though the company had a central IT shop, seven separate mini-IT shops needed to place server equipment in the datacenter, along with the central IT department itself. Going on the word of the contractor, she felt that there would be plenty of electricity to meet the needs of the various IT stakeholders.

During the first wave move some, but not all, of the servers that were going into the datacenter were delivered, and the various administrators showed up to hook them up, Susan was shocked (no pun intended) to find out that all of the electrical connections were used up! Even though there were still more servers to come, she had nowhere for them to hook up to power. The assurance that the contractor gave her was suddenly out the window.

Furthermore, as Susan went back through and inventoried the electrical requirements for the remaining servers, she was startled to find that some had regular 15 amp requirements, others needed 20 amp circuits, and still others required a specialized 277/480 circuit. On revisiting the contractor she found that he had only installed 15 amp circuits—he wasn’t aware that server gear may have other power requirements than an ordinary house lamp!

Susan had to assess in a RAM how many circuits she needed for each kind of remaining power requirements. The total was seventeen 15 amp, ten 20 amp, and two 277/480 circuits. She also planned in a little bit extra for growth. Next she went back to the contractor to get an estimate of the cost for the 31 new circuits—a whopping $17,500!

Finally, with much trepidation (she was, after all, a skilled project manager) she went to the project’s sponsor, explaining that she had overlooked the power requirements and that significant additional monies were required to complete the project.

Susan now works as a cab driver in a central California city.

Three job titles are listed in the example matrix: programmer, tester, and technical writer. We also know we need someone from the marketing department to handle external customer communication, but we do not have a specific job title. The RAM can also be used to depict materials and equipment. Task C in this example requires a new server.

You can use other tools besides the RAM to identify resource requirements. We have seen project teams use the WBS (created in scope planning) and write in the resources required next to each task. Resource requirements can also be documented using project management software package. You may also use tools or templates from previous projects.

Tip 

The specifics of how you identify resources are not as important as making sure that you capture everything.

The team continues to work through the task list until resources have been assigned to all of the project tasks. Once you have identified the resources you need, you are ready to start the process of estimating the cost of each of the resources.

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