Resource Leveling & Controls in Project Management
This week for NETRIO’s White Board Wednesday episode, Brian and Mike have moved on to the fourth tenet of good project management — Resource Leveling & Controls. If you have missed the previous three tenets, check out NETRIO’s blog to read about project plan initiation, project planning and project execution.
Mike CromwellWelcome back to Whiteboard Wednesday. Mike Cromwell.
Brian DeVaultBrian DeVault,
Mike Cromwell...And we're here today to talk about the next step in the series, what we're talking about in project management and the importance of project management for the success of any technical implementation for business. And at this point, we're now into the fourth tenet of the eight tenets of a successful project management plan.
Mike CromwellAnd this week, Brian, we're going to talk about resource leveling and control. So first off, before we get into it, what does that mean? And then walk us through the steps and why it's an important component that should know going into a project plan.
Brian DeVaultSo resources help obviously help us get the project accomplished. When we say resources, the first thing we think about is people, and that's certainly one aspect of it. But it could be systems, it could be processes, it could be facilities, it could be assets in terms of servers or infrastructure or things like that that help us implement technology projects. And so what we're doing when we're doing resource leveling is we're reviewing our performance today and we're determining if we have an adequate amount of resources.
Brian DeVaultAgain, people, assets, facilities, all those things that can be included in that group of resources in order to finish the project on time and on budget. That's what we're talking about.
Mike CromwellSo it's iterative or fluid, depending on where you are in the project. And you can flex staff, based on what the needs of the project are.
Brian DeVaultCorrect. Right. And so you may - and I'll give you an example in a minute when we go through this, but you know, really, when we start to measure activity against the project we're talking about, what the level of activity that's that's being done, right? So see, in the in the middle of a project, the activity level is going to be very high, right? And the level of engagement, the number of people that are involved is going to be very high.
Brian DeVaultAnd in that case, we're looking at performance to budget because those people have an hourly cost. In some cases, that's something we're trying to manage against. But we also want to look at performance to schedule. You know, as you and I have talked about a lot, the difference between importance and urgency comes into play here a lot. So our performance to schedule may be more important than our performance to budget.
Brian DeVaultSo if I've got a hard deadline, say in an acquisition or something, I'm trying to meet a timeline against, then maybe my budget conflicts a little bit so I can add a resource at an hourly cost into the middle of the project to speed it up or to make sure we hit our timeline. And so those are all important attributes of resource leveling. And really what we're talking about is adding, removing or changing people, process or assets involved in that resource pool.
Mike CromwellSo that begs the question, if you're an enterprise, considering you name the project, IT managed service, SD-WAN, UCaaS, contact center, you name it. How important is it, then, to consider the size of the project management staff on this front? Because what happens if you're an enterprise, you're looking at going with an MSP that's got one project manager, and I guess one of the advantages that you have with your team is you've got the ability to move resources around. So it's the benefit of scale.
Mike CromwellIs that an accurate assessment?
Brian DeVaultIt is. It is. Absolutely. And and you may find that when you're looking at performance to schedule as the PMO or the project management office may have a role at a high level, but then there may be an engineering team and that engineering team may be led by primary engineer that is responsible for adhering to that schedule mostly. So you've got tiers of ways that you can manage these resources within that project team.
Mike CromwellAnd how often are you looking at this?
Brian DeVaultYou should be looking at this a couple times a week. You know, you really - you're trying to adhere to the schedule in the budget or the two main deliverables there. So if you're adjusting any more frequently than that, then it's probably a little bit of a knee jerk reaction. Sometimes you've got to make your adjustments and then give them time to propagate.
Mike CromwellWell, I'm curious because Netrio right now has several large projects in the pipeline. So how often the last few weeks have you been looking at this?
Brian DeVaultI'll admit I've been looking at it several times a day. But not with the magnifying glass that I would if I'm going to make a lot of change.
Mike CromwellWell, kudos to you, because I've been in businesses before where there's an influx of demand.
Mike CromwellAnd what you see is an elongated delivery interval and your team appears to have not missed a beat. So there again, value of having this as a key tenet to your project management plan. So there you have it, folks. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for watching. Stay tuned for next week. We're going to go continue to go through the eight tenets of project management.
In order for a project to be managed effectively, it needs to have strong resource leveling and controls. However, it is not always an easy task. This blog post will discuss what resource leveling is and why it is so important to the overall outcome of the project.
What is Resource Leveling?
According to Forecast, “Resource leveling, by definition, is a resource optimization technique that answers when the project can be finished with the available resources without overbooking them or spreading them too thin. Resource leveling will generally aim to distribute work between resources fairly, which not only contributes to a healthy work environment, but also makes the project schedule realistic and achievable.”
Resources help the team get the project completed. When defining a resource, it could be many different things. Many people think of a resource as a team member, and that is a very important aspect. However, resources can also be things like systems, processes and facilities.
Why Resource Leveling is Important
Many people think resource leveling and controls are most important at the start of the project. While they are very important at the beginning, it is more important as the project unfolds. Ensuring your company has a strong resource-leveling plan will allow for intermittent check-ins that prove to make the project advance smoothly and efficiently.
As the project unfolds, your team should be looking at things like performance vs budget. Each person working on the project costs money, and staying within the budget is important. You also want to ensure that each employee is not being overworked or overwhelmed to avoid burnout and maintain a happy work environment. Another thing to compare against is performance to schedule. How is the project going according to the agreed-upon project plan?
Example of Resource Leveling
After taking these things into account, you would be able to decide which action needs to be taken to meet the end goal. For example, if you have a hard deadline, and the budget conflicts slightly, you can add a resource at an hourly cost into the middle of the project to speed it up.
Resource leveling is going to be situational. It comes down to adding, removing, or changing people, processes, and assets involved in that resource pool.
Resource leveling and controls is a way to increase efficiency in projects with the resources your company has available. If resource leveling is done properly, no resource will be overextended. Project managers should take into account different factors to pinpoint dependencies and avoid delays and maintain promised deliverables.
This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly White Board Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.