When everything goes well, nobody cares about the project’s resources, they become a dime a dozen. And smart project managers always keep their resource plan with them for any unwanted situation. But, the problem comes when the project is hitting the deadlines and some of your activities are far away from completion and you are not able to achieve the target with the planned, committed and available resources. Then these Project Managers caught between two stools, either the deadline will be missed, or include additional resources whoever is available to complete the work in allotted time.
But the biggest problem here is that addition of new resources at this stage of the project may cheapen the quality of the work. If the skill and competency level of the new resources does not match with project’s requirement. So instead of crying over spilled milk, a proper estimation of activities in respect of resource planning should be in place at the planning stage of the project.
Brend got an opportunity to manage a large-scale project for the first time in his company. Earlier he worked in similar projects, and his senior were there to help him. So, based on his past experience and lessons learned from previous projects, Brend starts managing the project.
Initially, the project sails smoothly. Once the initiation phase was over, Brend and his team started the planning stage. They carefully planned every stages, prepared the project plans, scheduled the activities and went straight to the development phase.
The project was sailing smoothly without any hiccups. The client, as well as the senior management of his company were very happy with the progress of the project and appreciated Brend for his style of management, and his dedication and commitments towards the project.
But, everyday is not a sunny day, as life is full of uncertainties, same thing also happens with the projects life cycles. As, Brend and his team was nearing to an important milestones, Brend noticed that, though the date of delivery of the important milestone is round the corner, but actually they are far away from it. They at least need more than a week time additionally from the planned scheduled to reach the millstone and that too by putting extra efforts.
Now, Brend has a bitter pill to swallow, if he missed the deadline of the milestone then his reputation in the company will go down. And if he will request the client to extend the delivery date of the milestone, then chances is that the relationship with the client becomes jeopardize, which adds insult to injury for him. So, what will he do now?
There are two possible solutions, Brend can apply at this circumstances; either he and his team has to burn the midnight oil by putting extra efforts which may or may not complete the required tasks, or Brend can include some additional resources to complete the task, but the chances are that the quality of the work may degrade.
Before thinking further on the current situation of Brend, let’s find out why he fell in this situation at the first place.
On planning stage, Brend and his team planned and scheduled the complete work perfectly, but missed one important activity that is activity estimation of resources. If they had estimated the activity resources at the planning stage itself, they would have never fallen in the current situation at all. Let’s discuss how the Estimate Activity Resources process helps in Project life cycle.
Once we have defined the activities, sequenced those activities by identifying their dependencies and logical relationships, then the next steps we should do is estimation of activities resources. Estimating activity resources are nothing but a process of estimating the type and quantities of human resources, equipment and materials (if any) to complete each activity. This estimation is useful and considered for estimating cost and duration later.
So, in order to estimate the activity resources, following inputs are required.
List of activities should be prepared, as based on those activities we will estimate further.
The attributes such as detail description, constraint and assumptions and resource requirements of activities should be taken into consideration.
Risk register are also taken into consideration while doing the estimation, as keeping a foresight on the risk of the projects will help to estimate more appropriately.
The cost of the resources also taken into consideration while estimation the activities. The resource cost has an impact on resource selection.
Another most important factor here is the resource calendar, which helps us to know the availability of resources.
The resource calendar is a simple graphical calendar which lists the number of working days when the resources are available. Using the resource calendar the Project Managers can identify when and how long any particular resource is available during the project life cycle. It also includes the skills and experiences of the resources as well as their geographical locations from where they will going to work for the project.
The tools and techniques always helps us to estimate in more reliable and accurate way. One of such technique is the Bottom-Up estimation.
The Bottom-Up estimation technique is the process of estimating the activities from the lower level of WBS. We will estimate resource requirement for the lower level components first, and then aggregate upwards for the higher level components, and thus finally we will get the estimation for the total quantity of the project as a whole. The bottom-up estimation technique is considered as a most accurate and reliable approach for estimating resources, the duration and cost.
The Analogous Estimation Technique is purely based on the historical data of similar projects. It uses the parameters of previous projects or activity of similar nature and applies the similar treatment to the current or future projects. For example, if a particular activity in the previous similar project has taken X number of days, and then the same X duration can be applied to the same activity in the current project also.
The best part of Analogous Estimation is, it is less costly and less time-consuming, but it is also less accurate. The accuracy of this type of estimation is lower than the Parametric Estimation or Bottom-Up Estimation.
So today, we have discussed on the importance and benefit of estimating activities resources. Also we discussed few estimation tools and techniques which are useful for estimation. Each of this processes is significant in project management perspective. Also, there are other tools and techniques which can be used to perform estimation, such as Parametric Estimation, Three-Point Estimation etc., which we will discuss in our upcoming articles.