You're overloaded. But my projects are wrapping up and I have time to take on more work. Why can't our managers even out the workload?
Resource leveling is only possible when we can see who has work assigned and when. When most of our personnel are working on multiple projects, then we need that visibility stretched across projects.
Multi-project resource visibility demands additional coordination and discipline among project managers and resource managers.
Resource leveling is essential for building a realistic schedule.
If our schedules call for personnel to work 24 hours a day in order to meet milestones, it's a good bet we'll miss the milestones. As more people work on more projects, it isn’t enough for a project manager to avoid over-scheduling team members. It takes the coordinated effort of multiple project managers and the managers who have authority to assign people to projects.
Part 1 and 2 of this multi-project resource series have established the first two steps: Making a project inventory and prioritizing projects. Those create the foundation for this next step.
Five Requirements for Leveling Across Projects
We don’t actually need specialized software, but it helps. We do need discipline: consistent practices that everyone can count on. Here are five basic elements required for multi-project resource leveling.
A common source for resource assignment information. The first multi-project resource databases were often simple spreadsheets. They took a lot of effort to create and maintain. Modern enterprise project management software reduces the overhead for maintenance as the data is pulled from project plans into the master resource view.
Standards for recording resource assignments on projects. Every project manager follows a common approach for assigning people to projects. For example, if a person is expected to work half of their time on a task the project manager must set resource usage as .5 for that person.
Common planning horizons. On some kinds of projects it is realistic to assign people to project tasks up to six months in advance. But other kinds of projects can’t see accurately more than six weeks. Agree on the planning horizon that every project will use. That prevents frustration from project managers who plan six months out, only to have their resources re-assigned every
A forum for resource leveling decisions. Resource allocation across multiple projects requires cooperation among project managers and the people that assign resources to projects. They need a regularly scheduled time to meet and discuss resource problems and needs. This facilitates putting the right people on the right projects and prevents yo-yo resource assignments, where people are constantly being switched from one project to another.
An owner for the process. Maintaining the resource information takes effort. Facilitating participation keeps the process focused and effective. Sponsorship generates commitment to the process and encourages the different groups to participate. All of these typically fall to a PMO with a strong executive sponsor.
See An Example of a Multi-Project Resource Leveling Tool
Attend a free webinar on September 23, 2011, to see how Microsoft Project Server pulls resource information from multiple projects to identify the resources that are over-loaded or have room for more assignments. Click here to learn more or register.
Get a free Microsoft Project tip for creating multi-project resource views. Click here to read Sam Huffman's Microsoft Project blog.
Take Microsoft Project Server for a test drive. Take a free 7-day trial of Project Server 2010. Click here to take the tour.
Contact The Versatile Company for more information on how to create the right multi-project resource leveling process for your team.