6 resource planning myths debunked

resource planning myths

Hi! You’re probably here because you don’t perform any resource planning (or you do but it’s painful to do). I’d like to explain why your organization should be resource planning (or why it can be made easier for you).

I feel your pain – I really do! I have worked in project management and resource management roles for 25 years plus, and I have seen organizations trying to do resource planning in pretty much every way conceivable. Spreadsheets, Gantt charts, whiteboards… the list goes on. The one thing they had in common was pain – lots of pain. But you know what, resource planning tools have changed quite a lot in the last few years. So let’s run through some common myths and objections.

Myth #1: Resource planning is hard

Oh you are so right there – resource planning is hard. It is hard if you are still trying to build plans and schedules in spreadsheets, battling with MS Project or spending hours each day using tools that require YOU to work out schedules.

But there is a better way. In Kelloo the optimum schedule is worked out for you. Meaning you are freed up to do more important things and not spending time gazing at spreadsheets trying to figure out when people can work on things. It gets better… Kelloo works out your schedules even if your resources are working on multiple projects (try doing that in Microsoft Project!).

Fact: Resource planning can be done quickly and deliver real results if you use the right tools.

Myth #2: Resource planning is only for big teams

A common fallacy is that resource planning tools only benefit big teams of resources. However, we often see organizations with only a handful of resources really struggling to keep tabs on who is doing what when. With only a handful of resources it should be easy for them to keep a handle on their resources plans. But if they have plans that change often, lots of smaller pieces of work or resources that work on different projects at the same time they quickly struggle.

Fact: The size of the team is not the only factor that drives the need for resource planning. Complexity grows as the number of resources, number of items to be scheduled and number of projects grows. Even teams with small resource pools and a limited number items to be scheduled will benefit from resource planning tools if their schedules are subject to constant change.

Myth #3: Resource planning tools all do the same thing

Most resource planning tools require the planner to manually work out who is working on what and when. At Kelloo we think this is a flawed concept – people do not have the time to manually plan their resources at that level. Even with just a handful of resources, trying to work out the best schedule while maximizing utilization is near impossible.

At Kelloo we make the planners life easier – so no manual scheduling here. We have a clever scheduling engine that mashes up project priorities and resource availability and works out the best schedule for you. And it deals with complexities such as resources being shared across projects and resources with multiple skill sets.

Fact: Not all tools are built the same. Most scheduling tools are little more than replacements for existing planning spreadsheets and don’t make the planners life easier.

Myth #4: We have agile development teams – we don’t need resource plans

Agile planning in theory should be a breeze. Imagine you have 5 developers who each work 8 hours per day which gives you 40 hours labor per day. Across a 10 day sprint you should be able to do around 400 hours of work. Your development team estimate the work, you aim to tackle features accounting to say 375 hours of work (to give you some slack) and off you go.

But this misses a couple of important points. In an agile environment there is an assumption that resources are dedicated 100% to the project work. But we find that in many organizations, time available for project work can drop to as low as 50%-60% of a resources initial capacity once things like support, meetings, administration etc. are taken into account. Also with the need to keep many projects moving forward at the same time, there is pressure to have resources working on more than one project at the same time (yes I know that is a big NO in the agile world) and some of these other projects may not even be agile.

So in an agile environment, short term scheduling is often no longer a consideration – agile removes the need for this. But further out, resource plans are still needed so the organization can answer questions such as:

– How much time their resources can dedicate to each of their projects?

– How many projects can we take on?

– Do we have the right mix of people going forward?

– Can we better distribute our resources across our projects?

So in an agile environment, resource planning takes a helicopter view with considerations about resource allocation to projects, resource budgeting and resource capacity coming to the fore. Different questions but answers are still needed.

Fact: Agile environments still need to do resource planning but the focus is different.

Myth 5: # Project planning is the same as resource planning – we don’t need both

I hear you saying right now, “our project managers build project plans for our projects, so why do we need another layer of planning?” Project plans and resource plans are fundamentally different and serve different purposes. However there is a link between them.

A key objective of resource planning is to ensure an organization has the optimum level of resources and the correct mix of skills to execute its projects. The objective of project planning is to work out who is doing what work and when on a project. Resource plans are resource focused and multi project. Project plans are task centric and have a single project focus.

Fact: The resource plan is used to forecast the resource needs for a range of projects the organization is seeking to execute and to allocate those resources to the projects. The project planner then plans within these resource allocations.

Myth #6: Resource planning adds no value

Holey moly, we need to stamp on this myth right now. In the average IT shop, software or consulting organization, the fully loaded cost (i.e. salary plus benefits, accommodation contribution, hardware and software etc.) of an employee can easily run to between $80,000 – $150,000 a year.

People are the biggest cost and it is critically important to ensure that people are utilized in a way that ensures maximum efficiency and profitability for the organization. And yet in many organizations, resource planning is at best haphazard, often ignored and more often than not so difficult to get a handle on that people just guess.

Fact: A key metric in resource planning is utilization. Organizations who implement Kelloo typically see improvements in resource utilization in the range of 5%-10% per resource*. That may not sound a lot, but think of each of your resources, each costing you say $100,000 a year and that improvement adds up to a lot of extra resource hours, costs saved or hires postponed.

* Achieved by improved forecasting of future resource levels, better forecasting of skills required and improved allocation of resources to projects.

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