Scheduling resources to execute a single (or multiple) “project(s)” as opposed to “routine” work is challenging. Project factors such as quantity of projects, type/complexity of work and process requirements are factored when assigning resources to a project. It is common to develop a preliminary schedule with “typical” project durations and resource assignments based on a “gut feel.”
However, as resources become scarce and project information becomes more critical, the use of a standard process for identifying more precise levels of staff assignments has become essential.
The most critical tool for scheduling the correct level of staff is a procedure manual. A procedure manual includes the detailed description of all processes required to execute a project. Simply put, a project is defined as:
- Project = process 1 + process 2 + process N +, etc. (where N is the number of processes required to execute a project).
Some processes include narratives, flow charts, external resources, spreadsheets, checklists and other items used to articulate the process to the reader. It is crucial that each process includes a summary of the “work” and “durations” required to execute it. Work, in this equation, refers to the amount of exertion (labor units) required to complete the process; and duration refers to the length of time required to complete the process.
With those basic building blocks, the minimum staff requirements for each process are calculated as:
- Units = work/duration (where “units” refers to the percentage of resources required to complete a process).
For example, if a facilities manager has a task that requires 40 hours of work that will be completed over the duration of four weeks — which, based on a 40-hour workweek, is 160 work hours — it would calculate to 0.25, or a unit of 25%. So, 25% of the time over the next four weeks should be dedicated to this task.
The work and duration information also can be directly entered into a scheduling software system such as Microsoft Project to build the overall resource need.