How to plan and track operational resources and time

Resource Scenarios – How to plan and track operational resources and time

(café latte)

EPM2007 allows for some new scenarios regarding resource management, specifically regarding assigning resources to operational plans (and of course activity plans).  Microsoft have a specific type of project plan called an Activity Plan which can easily be is used for operational work.  An additional scenario exists for rolling project plans, but I’ll cover this in a later blog.  Example screen shots are attached.

So, let’s deal with operational work.  In many organisations a significant proportion of budget is taken up performing non-project work, i.e. maintaining existing systems (I saw one quote recently that said that 75% of IT budgets are spent on maintaining existing systems, which suggests to me that IT organisations spend too much time just maintaining the status quo).  In order to model this operational time, we need to set up an activity plan that we can then assign a nominal 75% of our resource capacity to.  This then leaves 25% to be used for project work.  Holidays, sickness, training and other non productive work (we can argue whether training is classed as productive or not at a later date!) are excluded at this stage.  All we are simply saying is that, in this organisation, our time is split 75% to 25% between operational and project work.

To set this up, Create a new Activity from within the Proposals and Activities view within PWA and begin to fill in the summary information. 

The minimum information we should type in is the Name, Description and Start Date.  By default the Start Date is today’s date, in our example we have changed the date to match the start of our calendar year, March 5th 2007.  The plan owner defaults to the currently logged in user.  Any Enterprise Custom Fields will need to be selected as required.

We now have the choice of specifying tasks in the Work Details view; however this is optional; it depends on the level of detail required for your reporting.

So, we can click on  to save the plan, ignoring the work details screen, and then we can either Save the plan or Save and Publish the plan.  If we Save the plan without publishing it then it just remains in the draft database.  Draft plans have a different icon in the Proposals and Activities view.  In our case we will publish the plan later.

So, all we have now is basically a project header with no tasks (because we ignored the work details screen) and no resource assignments.  In order to create a resource demand or usage against the project, it is necessary to create a resource plan.  Back in the proposals and activities view, we need to make sure the row containing our activity plan is highlighted, and click on Resource Plan.  Follow the rather obvious instructions in red by clicking on Build Team and select the desired operational resources to work on the activity plan.  Now we have resources allocated to the activity plan, but we don’t yet have any “assignments” or “demand”.

We will place the demand on the system by assigning a work load by period (days, weeks, months or years) and by type (hours, days or FTE).

We want to plan our work for the next calendar year (March 5th 2007 to March 4th 2008), and we want to reserve 75% of our two resources’ time for operational work.  (If we were planning this at this stage to just place a demand for a skill set, we could use generic resources instead).  The simplest way to do this is to click on Settings| View Options to expose further options to allow us to easily reserve this time.  In the Date range selection, we choose our calendar year (using the From: and To: dates), and select the Column Interval to Years.  Selecting Calculate resource utilization from: Resource Plan will mean that this resource plan will affect the resource availability in the enterprise resource pool.  Selecting Full-time equivalent for the Work Units: field will allow us to input .75 against both resources to represent our 75% operational work.  Click Apply to change the view so we can input the required utilisation.

Type in .75 in the resource rows and columns.  Note that there are two columns, split over the calendar year.

Click on Save and then Close.

Because we did not publish the activity plan previously, our resource plan cannot be published and is therefore a draft plan.  We are able to review and modify our plans before publishing them for the rest of the organisation to see.

Once we have finalised both our activity plan and associated resource plan, we can publish them.  Open the desired Activity plan and click Save and Publish followed by Close.  Open the resource plan and do the same.

Checking the Resource Availability from the Resource Center shows that from March 5th 2007 75% of the resources’ time (6 out of 8 hours) is allocated to the activity plan.  The screen shot also shows the previous week for comparison purposes.

So we have now successfully reserved 75% of our specified resources’ time for operational work.

What we do next really depends on our specific business processes.  It may be that we need to monitor the 75% / 25% split of work.  One way to do this would be to monitor this monthly by collecting data from the timesheet function, and comparing the time booked against the system maintenance project verses other projects.  Note that in order to do this we have to use the build team function to assign the resources onto the project – we can do this easily using the Synchronise to Resource Plan function.

Back to the Proposals and Activities view, select the Activity plan, and click Build Team, then click on Synchronise to Resource Plan and and Save and Publish to publish the operational plan with the assigned resources from the resource plan

Within the timesheet, we can now see the operational plan and book our time accordingly.

–Enjoy, Ben.

 Credits – Trebb Gatte who originally blogged this type of usage of resource plans.