Why you should care about including resources in your schedule?
Including resources in your schedule
I see it all the time, as soon as the people I coach have a good schedule, with a clear critical path, and forecasting their main deliveries, they realize this is not enough. As soon as they start to update the schedule they will see all these parallel tasks and it becomes visible that one person can never perform all these activities in this particular timeframe.
Having a duration-driven start is a great start, but it could be though that it is not realistic enough yet, as resources induce many additional dependencies. You could think of shortage of resources with a certain skill set, holidays, or responsibilities in other projects.
First of all, a resource is any means that need to be used for tasks and thus projects to complete. Think of people with certain skills, test machines, facilities, money, etc. Apart from resources there is a responsible person who does not necessarily need to spend time on a task to complete. Resources should only be assigned to tasks when doing this has a significant impact to the quality or duration of the schedule.
Also note that as a communication means, a schedule could have different audiences:
- Bottom-up – only use resources for those tasks that affect the critical path
- Top-down – use resources for all your tasks as you use your schedule to communicate their workload and what is expected of them
The goal of planning with resources is to be able to determine what is needed of the variable parameter(s) to achieve the project goal. These parameters are:
- Scope and timing with constrained resources
- Timing and resources with constrained scope
- Scope and resources with constrained timing
On a schedule level, we distinguish between four elementary steps towards the goal of realistically calculated plan dates given the resource constraint:
- Effort-driven scheduling: By understanding how resource assignments and (un)availability affects the task duration, we can have more reliable task durations in our schedule.
- Resource leveling: Any resource overallocation (on the critical path) will show a too optimistic plan date (because we do not have unlimited availability of resources). We need to solve this to have more reliable plan dates for our major deliverables.
- Task ownership by resources: Since reliable plan dates are only possible with reliable estimations, it is important to facilitate this as much as possible. Realistic estimations done and owned by the resources themselves is an important part in this.
- Resource critical path: The critical path of all dependent tasks and resources.