Smooth Resources, As Required, To Create The Most Optimum Schedule
By Richard Morreale
In the last article of the Project Planning Process series, we examined the topic of scheduling each of the activities/tasks either automatically using an automated planning tool or by hand – Today’s article is the 9th installment of this series.
Most automated planning systems advertise that they can be used to automatically smooth resources to the most optimum use thereby providing the best possible schedule. They say that they take into consideration the Activities, effort estimate, resources that have been allocated, either by name or resource indicator and the estimated elapsed time for each Activity.
Well, I’ll tell you what happens. They might do it totally logically with the above information fed into the system but they don’t have much common sense built into the algorithm. So what do you get? You get 7-day Activities that should be started and logically continued until they are completed being broken up into 3 2-day Activities and a 1-day Activity and being completed over a much longer period in terms of the schedule. The system will take a resource assigned to, say, 3 Activities, get the resource started on the first Activity, maybe complete 20% of it, move to the next Activity, maybe complete 50% of it, move to the 3rd Activity, complete all of it, go back to – this is getting confusing. You know what I’m talking about.
I can hear some of you guys saying well the smoothing will work if you put in the accurate information about what can be broken up and what can’t. Well, in my experience, you end up having to put so much information into the system that not only does the system bog down but the dependencies get so complicated that it ends up in a great big mess.
My advice to you is to spend some time and do the smoothing as much as possible by hand. OK. Some resources might be slightly over utilized but that’s what your job as a Project Manager is about. Work the situation. I believe that to ensure that you get the best use and spread out of the resources that have been assigned or that will need to be assigned the only way to do it is by hand. So accuse me of being ‘long in the tooth’.
Once you have smoothed the resources, take the dates that you end up with for each of the Activities, input those dates into your system and track achievement to them. It will be so much easier.
Richard is a project manager, professional speaker, author and consultant specializing in Project Management, Leadership, Achievement and Customer Service.
You can book Richard for your next meeting or conference at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336 499 6677.