TCMFramework_SM.gif (5258 bytes)TCM Framework: An Integrated Approach to Portfolio, Program and Project Management
(Rev. 2012-01-09)



7.4 Resource Planning

7.4.1 Description

    Resource planning is the process of ascertaining future resource requirements for an organization or a scope of work. This involves the evaluation and planning of the use of the physical, human, financial, and informational resources required to complete work activities and their tasks. Most activities involve using people (i.e., labor) to perform work. Some activities involve creating an asset using component physical elements or parts (i.e., materials) as well as other items consumed during creation (i.e., consumables). Other tasks involve creating an asset using mainly information inputs (e.g., engineering or software design). Usually, people use tools such as equipment to help them. In some cases automated tools may perform the work with little or no human effort. Therefore, the goal of resource planning in TCM is to ensure that labor, materials, tools, and consumables, which are often limited in availability or limited by density, are invested in a project over time in a way that successfully, if not optimally, achieves project objectives and requirements.

    Resource planning begins in the scope and execution plan development process (Section 7.1) during which the work breakdown structure, organizational breakdown structure (OBS), work packages, and execution strategy are developed. The OBS establishes categories of labor resources or responsibilities; this categorization facilitates resource planning because all resources are someone’s responsibility as reflected in the OBS. These scope development deliverables are inputs to the schedule planning and development and cost estimating and budgeting processes (Sections 7.2 and 7.3, respectively). Resource estimating (usually a part of cost estimating) determines the activity’s resource quantities needed (e.g., hours, tools, materials, etc.) while schedule planning and development determines the work activities to be performed. Resource planning then takes the estimated resource quantities, evaluates resource availability and limitations considering project and business circumstances (e.g., skills, location, resource markets, etc.), and then optimizes how the available resources (which are often limited) will be used in the activities over time. The optimization is performed in an iterative manner using the duration estimating and resource allocation steps of the schedule planning and development process (see Sections and

    At the conclusion of the resource planning process, the resource "plan" becomes an inherent part of the project control budget and the resource-loaded schedule. Where appropriate, control budgets include both resource quantities and cost. The estimate and schedule deliverables include documents that describe the resource assumptions, limitations, and other resource considerations incorporated in the baseline project control plan. The resource plan is a key input to the procurement planning process (Section 7.7) that plans for acquisition of the planned resources in alignment with the execution strategy.

    From the project control budget and the resource-loaded schedule, planned resource expenditure charts and tables can be developed that are then used as a control baseline against which actual resource use can be measured (Section 9.2) and assessed (Section 10.1). As changes are made to the project scope and/or plans, or performance trends are observed, changes to resource plans can be made through the change management process (Section 10.3).

    Resource planning is a critical element of project control planning when the performance of the accounting process for project costs (Section 9.1) is poor as it is for many enterprises. This is because accounting for resource consumption (e.g., time cards, purchase order tracking, etc.) tends to be more detailed and more timely than accounting for costs. Many cost accounting systems report cost data too infrequently (e.g., monthly) and/or too indefinitely (e.g., not at an activity level) to effectively control most projects. This is reflected in the project control saying "control the hours to control the job."

    Resource planning is often done at a strategic asset management level (Section 2.3) because the enterprise may have multiple projects competing for key resources (i.e., portfolio management). In that case, business management of the enterprise will have to decide on the best allocation of those key (i.e., strategic) resources between projects. Any such allocation or constraints will be addressed in the asset planning process (Chapter 3).

7.4.2 Process Map for Resource Planning

    At its core, resource planning is an interactive optimization process that works in parallel with the schedule planning and development and cost estimating processes. This process is supported by the study and understanding of the criticality and availability of the various resources, which in turn is supported by historical productivity data and experience with resource issues. Figure 7.4-1 illustrates the process map for resource planning.

Figure7.4-1.jpg (102608 bytes)

Figure 7.4-1 Process Map for Resource Planning

    The following sections briefly describe the steps in the resource planning process.

.1 Plan for Resource Planning

    Resource planning is a team effort. The team typically includes the project manager, planners, and other members such as schedulers, estimators, technical personnel (e.g., engineers, programmers), and managers (e.g., construction, programming, etc.). Often a scheduler leads the resource planning effort because the key step of resource allocation is a part of the schedule planning and development process. However, everyone on the project team with resource responsibilities (i.e., per the OBS) should have input to and buy-in for the resource planning aspects of the project control plans. The team and its activities for resource planning must be planned in conjunction with all the other project control planning processes as appropriate for the current phase of scope development. Resource planning tools are also identified that will facilitate the process, and past lessons learned are assessed for relevant guidance.

.2 Identify Key or Driving Resources and Priorities

    Based on resource quantity availability and the requirements identified in the cost estimating process and from past project experience, resources are assessed and ranked in terms of how critical they are likely to be to project success. This information helps prioritize subsequent resource planning steps. Feedback from resource optimization may result in reassessment of resource criticality.

.3 Study Resource Availability

    Methods for determining resource availability typically include site or field labor surveys, market analyses, and maintaining historical databases. Typically, a few resources will be both critical to success of a project or activity and highly limited in availability such as a highly specialized worker. For these activities, resource planning may result in additional estimated costs items (e.g., higher wages or labor incentives) and schedule activities (e.g., recruitment, training, etc.).

.4 Identify Resource Limits and Constraints

    Resources are rarely in unlimited supply. Therefore, the supply limits must be identified so that thresholds can be set for the resource allocation step (see Section 7.2). Some of the limits may be dependent on market availability while others may be imposed as constraints by enterprise or project system management. There may also be physical constraints on the ability to apply resources (density of workers in a given area).

    This step and the procurement planning process as a whole must also consider societal value and people performance issues (see Sections 11.1 and 11.2) that may somehow limit resource usage or performance (e.g., cultural attitudes, motivational issues, etc.).

.5 Optimize Resources

    The allocation of resources during schedule development (see Section 7.2) may result in project scheduling challenges, opportunities, or risks that require an iterative evaluation of activity and schedule preferential logic alternatives. To optimize resource usage, the team may reassess which resources are critical and seek ways to obtain those resources (e.g., incentives, training, etc.). Optimization may also consider issues such as when and where material resources will be received as this will affect inventory and material handling costs. Cash flow and interest costs can be improved, and materials damages and losses reduced if orders are not placed too early and hoarding or stockpiling are avoided. Likewise, labor resources should not be mobilized earlier than necessary.

.6 Review and Document Resource Plan

    Resource planning outputs (e.g., resource expenditure charts based on resource loaded schedules, recruitment and training plans, etc.) are reviewed by the project team to determine whether they are complete and suitable as a basis for planning, whether they meet project objectives and requirements, and whether they are competitive with industry’s best practices and historical approaches.

.7 Develop and Maintain Methods and Tools

    Resource planning is facilitated by having a database of historical resource data. These data should include past experiences with resource usage, availability, limitations, and similar information. The collection of historical resource planning data is generally a part of the project performance assessment process (Section 10.1) because resource plans and actual usage are in large part inherent to cost and schedule control records. Development and maintenance of resource planning tools (e.g., checklists, standard procedures, chart of accounts, etc.) is also a step in this process. A standard chart of accounts, along with the WBS/OBS, facilitates resource planning by establishing ways to consistently categorize resource information.

7.4.3 Inputs to Resource Planning

.1 Project Planning Basis (Objectives, Constraints, and Assumptions). The enterprise may establish requirements for resource planning such as constraints or limitations on the use of resources (see Section 4.1).

.2 Changes. During project execution, changes to the baseline project plans are identified in the change management process (see Section 10.3). Each change goes through the resource planning process so that it can be appropriately integrated into the project control plans.

.3 Resource Quantities. The cost estimating process (see Section 7.3) determines the quantities of labor hours, materials (counts, volumes, weights, etc.), equipment, tools, and consumable usage.

.4 Resource Expenditure Information. The rates or timing of resource expenditures are outputs from the scheduling resource allocation step (see Section 7.2).

.5 Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS). The OBS, developed during the scope development process (see Section 7.1), documents the project organization and responsibilities for elements of the work in a logical, hierarchical manner. Much of the organization structure (i.e., functional discipline breakdown) may already be reflected in a standard chart of accounts.

.6 Execution Strategy. Plans are developed during scope development (see Section 7.1) that define how the project work will be implemented (i.e., the general approaches through which the work packages and activities will be performed). Elements of the strategy may affect resource planning.

.7 Asset Alternative Scope. If the process is being used in support of strategic asset planning, (see Section 3.2), the scope (usually conceptual) of the investment alternative is the primary process input.

.8 Chart of Accounts. The chart of accounts is a coding structure that allows all cost and resource information on a project to be uniquely identified. The chart of accounts often incorporates standard elements of the OBS (e.g., functional disciplines such as piping) as well as categorization of resource types (e.g., labor, material, etc.). The resource type categorization is sometimes called the resource breakdown structure (RBS). Each stakeholder with accounting, control, and reporting responsibilities may have its own chart of accounts; coordination requires that stakeholders map their accounts with each other so that cost and schedule information can be exchanged.

.9 Societal Values and Performance Considerations. (see Sections 11.1 and 11.2).

.10 Historical Project Information. Past project resource usage, availability, limitations, and similar information is used to support future project resource planning.

.11 Information for Analysis. Resource planning is iterative with the other project planning steps including value analysis and engineering and risk management (see Sections 7.5 and 7.6, respectively). These analytical processes may identify changes in resource plans that will increase value and/or reduce risks.

7.4.4 Outputs from Resource Planning

.1 Resource Quantity Availability and Limitations. The resource allocation step (see Section 7.2) requires data on thresholds or limits for evaluating resource consumption over time. Examples of limitations include the availability of a particular skill, the total number of available workers with a particular skill set that belong to a local union, and the availability of a major crane or a specialized computer.

.2 Basis for Project Control Plans and Plan Implementation. The resource "plan" is an inherent part of the project control budget and the resource-loaded schedule. Control budgets should include both resource quantities and cost. The estimate and schedule deliverables include documents that describe the resource assumptions, limitations, and other resource considerations incorporated in the baseline project control plans.

.3 Basis for Asset Planning. If the process is being used in support of strategic asset planning (see Section 3.2), the resource plan (usually conceptual) is used to support feasibility analysis.

7.4.5 Key Concepts for Resource Planning

    The following concepts and terminology described in this and other sections are particularly important to understanding the resource planning process of TCM:

.1 Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS). (See Section

.2 Resources. In respect to the resource planning process covered in this section, resources include physical and human resources, in particular, labor (e.g., disciplines, trades, etc.), materials (e.g., steel, concrete, etc.), tools (e.g., construction equipment, computers, etc.), and consumables (e.g., welding rods, formwork, office supplies, etc.) used or employed in project activities. From a broader perspective, resources may also include physical space, monetary, and information resources.

.3 Resource Allocation. (See Section

.4 Resource Availability, Limitations, and Constraints. (See Sections and

.5 Resource Management. (See Sections 1.1.2 and 1.4.2).

.6 Societal Values. (See Section 11.1).

Further Readings and Sources

    There are many references describing resource planning and related practices for various project types in various industries. Resource planning, as addressed by the process in this section, is generally covered in project planning and scheduling texts, and less often as a subject in itself. Resource management, human resource management, and manufacturing or enterprise resource planning (MRP/ERP) are related but less relevant topics for which text references are not listed here. The following references provide basic information and will lead to more detailed treatments.


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