In Chapter 6, we saw how to use activity network analysis techniques to plan when activities should take place. This was calculated as a time-span during which an activity should take place - bounded by the earliest start and latest finish dates. In Chapter 7 we used the PERT technique to forecast a range of expected dates by which activities would be completed. In both cases these plans took no account of the availability of resources.
In this chapter we shall see how to match the activity plan to available resources and, where necessary, assess the efficacy of changing the plan to fit the resources. Figure 8.1 shows where resource allocation is applied in Step Wise.
In general, the allocation of resources to activities will lead us to review and modify the ideal activity plan. It may cause us to revise stage or project completion dates. In any event, it is likely to lead to a narrowing of the time-spans within which activities may be scheduled.
The final result of resource allocation will normally be a number of schedules including:
• activity schedule indicating the planned start and completion dates for each activity;
• resource schedule showing the dates on which each resource will be required and the level of that requirement;
• cost schedule showing the planned cumulative expenditure incurred by the use of resources over time.
These schedules will provide the basis for the day-to-day control and management of the project. These are described in Chapter 9.
A resource is any item or person required for the execution of the project. This covers many things - from paper clips to key personnel - and it is unlikely that we would wish to itemize every resource required, let alone draw up a schedule for their use! Stationery and other standard office supplies, for example, need not normally be the concern of the project manager - ensuring there is always an adequate supply is the role of the office manager. The project manager must concentrate on those resources where there is a possibility that, without planning, they might not be sufficiently available when required.
Some resources, such as a project manager, will be required for the duration of the project whereas others, such as a specific software developer, might be required for a single activity. The former, while vital to the success of the project, does not require the same level of scheduling as the latter. Individual programmers, for example, might be committed to working on a number of projects and it will be important to book their time well in advance. In general, resources will fall into one of seven categories.
• Labour The main items in this category will be members of the development project team such as the project manager, systems analysts and software developers. Equally important will be the quality assurance team and other support staff and any employees of the client organization who might be required to undertake or participate in specific activities.
• Equipment Obvious items will include workstations and other computing and office equipment. We must not forget that staff also need basic equipment such as desks and chairs.
• Materials Materials are items that are consumed, rather than equipment that is used. They are of little consequence in most software projects but can be important for some - software that is to be widely distributed might, for example, require supplies of floppy disks to be specially obtained.
• Space For projects that are undertaken with existing staff, space is normally readily available. If any additional staff (recruited or contracted) should be needed then office space will need to be found.
• Services Some projects will require procurement of specialist services -development of a wide area distributed system, for example, requires scheduling of telecommunications services.
• Time Time is the resource that is being offset against the other primary resources - project time-scales can sometimes be reduced by increasing other resources and will almost certainly be extended if they are unexpectedly reduced.
• Money Money is a secondary resource - it is used to buy other resources and will be consumed as other resources are used. It is similar to other resources in that it is available at a cost - in this case interest charges.
The cost of money as a resource is a factor taken into account in DCF evaluation.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.