As we all know, ‘Supply and Demand’ is one of the most fundamental concepts in economics: where demand refers to how much of a product or service is desired by buyers, and supply represents how much the market can offer.
When it comes to project management, supply and demand of resources is also essential to understanding how likely a project is to succeed. Project managers must consider the capacity of their resources: how many are needed by the organization to meet future work demands, and how many are currently at their disposal. This forms the foundation of resource demand planning.
Resource demand planning involves matching current and incoming work (demand) to the business’ ability to deliver (capacity) considering the current resources at their disposal (supply). Effective resource demand planning therefore requires a centralized overview of your people, material and capital—how they are presently being utilized and how they will be utilized in the near-future.
With this visibility, it becomes much easier to manage resources cohesively, assigning the best people to the right work at the right time. This can increase project value, minimize the cost and time required for project completion and avoid the monetary setbacks from resource over- or under-allocation.
In today’s post, we want to explore resource demand planning: its benefits, the common problems project managers might encounter, and the tools you can use to improve your own resource demand planning.
The most common issues regarding resource demand planning can be attributed to overestimation or underestimation—expecting too much or too little from your resources and projects:
Overestimating the capacity of your resources
The capacity of a single resource is that person’s ability to complete tasks in a project plan. So, the capacity of your resources is something you should be able to accurately estimate and quantify (in working hours).
This should be simple, but things like vacation, sick days, and other variables can get in the way of accurate capacity planning. Overestimating—or failing to accommodate for these kinds of variables—can leave your workers with too much to do.
Underestimating the demand of your resources
This problem often surfaces from allocating resources without enough prior thought or without recognizing the demands of future projects. Similarly, unplanned requests for resources from external sources or other projects can skew your perception of resource demand. This can leave you without enough resources to deal with the amount of work at hand, forcing you to make compromises like taking resources from other projects or postponing deadlines.
It’s important to remember that unplanned project changes, from budget cuts to stakeholders tightening deadlines, will influence your resource demand planning. This makes the planning itself difficult, no matter how much time you dedicate to understanding the state of your company resources.
Project managers need to make sure they don’t fall into bad habits like those above as both resource capacity and demand are subject to frequent, erratic change during a project’s lifecycle. If they do, this can result in largescale changes to projects, as the allocation of resources must be modified to deal with demand.
Unforeseen project changes can significantly impact on your resource demand planning and at times may feel like insurmountable problems. But a high level of visibility over your projects and resources can be the difference between project failure and project success.
Making use of resource management tools that facilitate this visibility can help with managing the demand, capacity, and supply of your resources for better overall project control.
Resource management tools are expanding in popularity, offering more comprehensive features to help you with the breadth of resource management. This includes tools and functionality for improved project visibility to assist you in your resource demand planning.
Tempus Resource, from ProSymmetry, is a sophisticated resource management tool that uses a selection of resource forecasting and allocation features to give you ultimate visibility over your project resources.
- Heatmaps and Coolmaps: offer a visual representation of your over- and under-allocated resources.
- Modelling & Forecasting: features let project manages explore and examine their data to make changes and spot potential problems ahead of time.
- ‘What-If’ Analysis: ask questions of your data and projects, test ideas and discover alternative resource allocations to see how changes will impact your costs.
Tempus Resource offers visibility over your current resources—where they’re allocated and how well they’re doing; visibility of resources over time—their availability and flexibility to deal with changes; and visibility of your future resources—discovering the best deployment solutions possible. Managing your resources has never been so clear.