Project/program Resource Management
Project management can be defined as the process through which resources are planned for, organized and managed to ensure that objectives and goals of a particular project are successfully achieved and that the project is fully completed. A combination of many projects that are mainly interdependent make up a program (Nokes, 2007). The planning and implementation of a project or program requires the use of resources which include equipment, time, finances, and labor among others. It is these resources that are used to carry out the various tasks that a certain project may entail. The provision of the necessary resources in any given project should always be effectively planned for and allocated. The process of planning, scheduling as well as the allocation of resources to the various activities or tasks is referred to as Resource Management. This process also looks at the allocation of resources to the identified tasks on the project budgets and schedules (Ireland, 2006).
This paper explores the process of planning and allocating resources, its relation to the Statement of Work (SOW), Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and project schedules as well as the challenges faced during the completion of resource allocation in situations where multiple projects are involved.
Importance of proper resource planning and allocation to project and/or program success
The process of resource planning involves selecting resources according to the type and quantity needed to successfully undertake a project to completion as well as evaluating these specific resources and how they are being used. The allocation of resources ensures that the available resources are utilized in the best way possible. It involves assigning resources to the different activities being carried during project implementation. When all the required resources are effectively planned for and allocated, then the project is likely to be successfully completed. Proper planning of resources ensures that all the necessary resources are identified prior the implementation of the project, are delivered on time and even incorporated into the project just as required.
It is during the planning process that the various risks related to the use of resources are identified and control measures for them put in place. Effective allocation of resources ensures that the specific duties and roles of all the people undertaking the project are identified thus eliminating confusion and ensuring that every necessary task is assigned to a responsible and well qualified personnel capable of ensuring that the task is successfully contributed. The effective undertaking of all assigned tasks leads to an overall successful project completion (Hamilton, 2004).
The process of planning and resource allocation makes it possible for effective budgeting to take place whereby the cost of every resource to be used during the project is put into account and the necessary funds sought. This ensures that the available funds are well planned for to fully complete the project. It also helps in identifying the various gaps in relation to finances. The process also allows for the prioritization of resources whereby the most crucial resources are identified as well as those that can be left out incase the funds available for the project are not enough (Hamilton, 2004).
Generally efficient resource planning and allocation enhances the achievement of a great output that in turn leads to a successful project or program completion (PMI, 2004).
Resource planning and allocation, Statement of Work (SOW), Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Project Schedules
In any given project where effective planning has been done, a Statement of Work, a Work Breakdown Structure and a Project schedule must be included. In a situation where the project in question is complex, efficient analysis and planning using direct and indirect organizational charging units of labor needs to be done. The designed organizational structure should be one that fits the specific project whereas the established schedules and project plans should ensure that resource allocation is done up to the mark. In this case, the systems related to determining the costs of the required resources, project reporting and information management should be developed (Kerzner, 2005).
The achievement of a perfect and workable plan can only occur if all the relevant details or information is obtained at the initial stages of project management. The Statement of Work, Work Breakdown Structure and Project Schedule make up some of this information. A Statement of Work documents every work to be undertaken in order to have a project fully complete. It briefly describes the entire work to be done, project aims and objectives, specifications, possible and existing financial constraints as well as a schedule. A planned schedule consists of dates during which a project begins and ends documented reports and the key milestones (Kerzner, 2005).
A Work Breakdown Structure helps in breaking down big and complex projects to smaller ones that can be more easily managed. This is mainly created to ensure that the project is well organized, responsibilities are efficiently assigned and that cost, time and risk estimates are accurately catered for. A WBS acts as the basis for planning of projects which involves the construction of cost estimates, allocation of resources as well as the creation of project schedules. The breakdown of complex projects to smaller ones makes it easier for resources required to undertake the sub-branched projects are effectively identified, planned for and assigned to their respective tasks ( Cleland and Gareis, 2006). The WBS breaks down the SOW into much smaller sub branches which are easier to identify and control.
Project schedules include a description of the various tasks that are to be undertaken, the time necessary to fully complete each of this task and the resource person or individual responsible for the performance of the task. Schedules are created during the planning phase of project undertakings. Task scheduling is the key measure that needs to be put in place during the onset of a project. This process helps in determining how resources should be allocated, projecting on how the resources are going to be utilized as well as in creating a basis through which costs can be estimated and the performance of the project monitored. The project schedule and the respective Work Breakdown Structure should be directly related. Developing a Work Breakdown Structure based on a given scheduled work sequence makes it easy to make out this particular sequence using numbering systems that are similar to those in the Work Breakdown Structure (Kerzner, 2005).
Challenges of completing resource allocation across multiple projects
Handling of multiple many projects at a go may prove to be a bit difficult to most managers. An increase in complexity, value and number of projects is likely to increase the number of constraints thus making it a big challenge for project team members with their time, budget and other resources. Though the planning and implementation of these tasks leads to an accomplishment of a given program or several projects within a short period, a number of challenges can be identified in this process. One such challenge is the inability of difficulty in prioritizing the available resources in instances where they may be limited. This may in turn lead to the wrong of choice of the required resources hence leading to project failure.
Wrong prioritization also poses a risk in such a way that the budgeted funds may not last till the completion of the project or program hence leading to the premature end of that particular program or projects.
The fact that undertaking multiple projects calls for the utilization of very significant finances as well as time also poses another great challenge.
Due to the ever increasing constraints and challenges posed by the undertaking of multiple projects, a number of innovations have been developed to help project managers and other project members deal with these challenges.
One such solution to this involves the establishment of Project Resource Chart that presents a weekly plan on how resources are to be allocated. In this case, the resources for the most important tasks are allocated every week.
The use of an Open Plan is yet another innovation developed to help project managers in making informed decisions necessary for the management of projects or programs. This allows for the identification and incorporation of the constraints emanating from the multiple projects into the plan or chart. The resources used are effectively analyzed in such a way that those used in a particular project are reflected in another. Just like in the Project Resource chart, prioritization of projects is done to ensure that resources are first allocated to the most critical projects (Monk and Wagner, 2009).
The successful completion of a project requires that resources be effectively planned for and allocated to the various tasks. These processes of project planning and allocation involves the incorporation of a Work Breakdown Structure through which the various tasks are broken down to simpler elements that are easier to manage, a Statement of Work that documents all the tasks or work to be carried out during the project or program planning and implementation as well as a project schedule that defines when the specific tasks making up a project are going to start and end and those responsible in carrying out this tasks. Though undertaking multi projects may often pose a challenge to most project managers, proper resource planning and scheduling using a weekly Project Resource Chart and also through the use of an Open Plan may act as a major solution to the above discussed challenges.
Generally, project success can only be achieved if the planning and allocation of resources is effectively done using a well developed WBS, SOW and schedule.
- Cleland D. and Gareis R. (2006) Global project management handbook, Boston: McGraw-Hill Professional.
- Hamilton A. (2004) Handbook of Project Management Procedures, Mumbai: TTL Publishing, Ltd.
- Ireland L. (2006) Project Management, Boston: McGraw-Hill Professional.
- Kerzner, H. (2005) Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, USA: Wiley publishers.
- Monk, E. and Wagner, B. (2009) Concepts in Enterprise Resource Planning, Boston: Course Technology Cengage Learning.
- Nokes, S. (2007) The Definitive Guide to Project Management, London: Prentice Hall.
- Project Management Institute (2004) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Newtown Square: Project Management Institute (PMI).