Project Resource Planning

Resource Management for EPCMs – It’s a Big Deal

Do you have a regular Monday morning meeting where your management team plans out who is doing what for the week?  EPCM organizations spend a significant amount of time and effort on resource management. And no wonder – resource management is a critical, continuous exercise in projecting resource loads, along with planning and managing who is doing what on any given week or month. Not every company plans at a level that's quite that granular – some companies with larger resource pools and projects forecast their resource needs more at the discipline level.  Others prefer to plan each named person in the organization. Regardless of the approach taken, it remains a complicated exercise that requires good process and good supporting software to do. This isn’t a challenge faced only by EPCMs, but they’re the professional services companies that we work with the most, so it’s a very familiar world to us. Here at 4castplus we obviously have to do a great deal of resource and task management with our own staff, so it’s a fairly universal affair.  Part of complexity lies in the fact that many professional services companies (like EPCM) work on a time & materials basis, so the questions of ‘who is billing to what project’ is an integral part of the resource management exercise.  On fixed price projects, moving resources around is less of an issue of being transparent to customers – but still requires careful internal management.   However, regardless if you are an owner, contractor or EPCM – you still need a software system that elegantly handles your resource management needs. For this posting, I’m going to throw out a few scenarios that I’d like you to

Top 3 Labor KPI Metrics for Services Organizations

What’s Up with Labor Utilization? Utilization is a critical metric to assess just how you’re doing as an organization – and a great way to benchmark yourself against your corporate objectives and your peers. If you’re a Services organization, you definitely want to know what’s “up” with utilization.  To be more specific – how is your staff being utilized?  How “billable” are your personnel? And of the billable hours that your people are putting in – are you managing to capture enough of those hours in billing, without excessive discounting or “removal” of hours? Let’s take a look at some of the metrics Services organizations need to be aware of. Resource Utilization Pretty much all Services organizations are aware of this key metric.  Of the total hours worked by your staff, how many of those hours are being used to generate revenue, or on tasks that are considered to be critical to generating revenue?  Say Anne is working a 50 hour work week, had an 8 hour sick day and 7 hours in non-billable, or idle, time.  Anne’s total time spent on “revenue-generating” tasks was 35 hours – her resource utilization is 70%.  If your corporate objective is to keep billable staff at 75% utilized on activities contributing to revenue – Anne is below the threshold.  Perhaps time to take a closer look at the 7 hours of idle time and find opportunities to turn those hours into revenue, or at the least, into hours that contribute to generating revenue. Next, let’s look at Billable Utilization as an additional way to view billable time. Billable Utilization A close relation to Resource Utilization, Billable Utilization looks at how “billable” staff is,

Mr. Doe Plans Everything in his Head

Mohamed El-Mehalawi, PhD, PMP Here is real story. A company that specializes in large project manufacturing has many planners and schedulers on staff. They plan and schedule engineering and procurement activities based on the information they get internally from engineering and procurement departments. They schedule manufacturing on the other hand, based on the information delivered from their vendors: since vendor information is as reliable as internal information. Both of these project types are estimated using gut feel rather than any estimating tool or empirical method, and for a long time this practice had worked fine. All of this, by the way, is based on project manufacturing which means that every product is unique.   One particularly happy customer that had received their product went on to ask for 100 more units exactly the same as the first one; and for those next 100 units to be delivered within one year. The situation then became quite different.  Does that look like they were moving into a mass production organization or what! Nevertheless, the planners and schedulers continued to follow the same estimating procedure and asked the vendor who manufactured the first unit if they were in fact able to manufacture the 100 units within one year; despite the fact that they had spent 7 months to produce the first one. The vendor of course without reluctance answered that they were capable of producing the 100 units within the required timeframe.   The project manager was smart enough to say, “That’s hard to believe. I need some facts and numbers to assure the organization that we will deliver on time.” He brought a scheduler with vendor relations and manufacturing engineering background to investigate the situation. Amazingly, the