Can You Afford Not to Manage Your Project Resources?

Those involved in delivering projects, and in particular engineering and construction projects, understand the importance of managing project’s resources and analyze their impact on the project’s approved budget. Resources, labor and non-labor, when they are estimated to deliver the project scope of work, many assumptions have to be made. Assumptions that could affect the productivity rates of those, site conditions, resources availability, resources cost among many others. Those estimate resources hours will be usually loaded on the detailed project’s execution schedule to determine when those resources will be deployed and the needed resources to deliver the project scope as detailed in the construction schedule activities.

Nevertheless, the major challenge that faces the management of the project resources is how to capture the actual hours spent against the project schedule activities and how to establish a governed process for analyzing and reporting this performance.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb will be used to achieve this starting with capturing the details of the labor and non-labor resources that the organization will deploy for delivering the project scope of work. Some of those resources could be project specific while others could be resources that the organization will use on their other projects.

Some of those resources could be outsourced resources and that is why it is essential to capture the details of those resources and assign them to their appropriate owner or company. Again, it is a recommended practice to maintain a single repository of all resources, labor and non-labor, the organization is currently using on their projects or where used on past projects.

Resources could have different cost rates depending on when that resource will be used. As a minimum, there are three rates, the regular rate which is the rate using for hours spent during the workday hours, the overtime rate which is used for hours spent after working hours and the premium rates which is used for hours spent over weekends and holidays. All labor resources need to have rates to reflect those three options. For equipment resources, some organizations could have different rates for working and idle equipment resources.

Since there should be a common interface between how actual resources hours will be captured and reported and how the planned hours loaded on the project schedule activities, those activities need to be imported to PMWeb. Those activities will become then available for the different PMWeb records including the Time Sheet and Daily Report modules which will be used to manage the project’s resources.

To ensure that the resources performance reporting will be aligned between PMWeb PMIS, the planning and scheduling software which could be Oracle Primavera P6, the organization’s ERP or financial system, the three applications must have the same financial periods that will be used for closing the transactions for each period and prepare the needed performance analysis report.

Now the organization is ready to capture the actual resource hours that will be spent on the project. In engineering and construction projects, and in particular from the Contractor’s perspective, there will be two modules. The Time Sheet which will be an internal document for which each crew member needs to capture the actual resource hours, labor and non-labor, spent on the project on weekly basis. For each resource, the captured hours need to be associated with the project schedule task that it relates to in addition. In addition, it is important to report how many of those hours where regular, overtime and premium hours.

To enforce governance, the completed timesheet will be submitted at the end of each week for formal review and approval. The PMWeb workflow will be used to map the workflow steps for submission, review and approval. The workflow could include conditions and branches to map the different scenarios that might impact the approval of the timesheet. Triggers for those conditions can be the default timesheet attributes or user defined fields.

This real-time data captured in the timesheet module will enable the organization to produce a variety of reports to analyze this information. For example, the report below shows the details of hours captured for one of the resources, labor, during each week against each activity of the project schedule. The actual hours include regular, overtime and premium hours. The bar chart is a summary of this data showing for each activity total actual and planned hours. The report includes filters to select specific project, specific resource and even specific activity or group of activities.

The same captured data will become the basis for the resources performance analysis dashboard. The dashboard will display for each selected resource the actual resource hours by type, actual resource cost by type, total planned hours versus total actual hours spent by the resource and total planned cost versus total actual cost incurred by the resource. The dashboard also detail the actual and planned hours spent by period or month as well as planned cost and actual resources cost for the same periods.

The resource analysis should never be limited to what has actually happened but should extend to include the forecast or the prediction on how those resources will perform for the remainder of the project duration. The Earned Value Method (EVM) is the only proven method to do this analysis where using the project schedule calculated Earned Value (EV) for each activity, will enable the organization to calculate the Schedule Variance (SV) and Cost Variance (CV) as well as the Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and Cost Performance Index (CPI). The organization can also determine if the SPI and CPI indices can be used to calculate the Performance Factor Index (PFI) to adjust the Estimate To Complete (ETC) the remaining scope of work. This will provide the value for the Estimate At Completion (EAC) and Variance at Completion (VAC) for each project period.  The dashboard below details the earned value metrics for the resources performance analysis.

The value that PMWeb brings for the Contractor who is keen on analyzing the performance of their resources goes beyond the data captured in the Time Sheet module. Contractors are required contractually to submit their daily report which details the site condition, activities performed, resources used, progress pictures among others to the project owner or the authorized representative. PMWeb Daily Report module allows the Contractor to capture the details of the work done by each resource on each specific today that could exceed what was captured on the timesheet. Nevertheless, what is important is that the daily report is a formal project communication unlike the timesheet which is an internal company organization. This means the data captured in the daily report can be used by the contractor to justify the request for change orders, disruption, acceleration and other types of contract adjustments.

The data captured in the daily reports, timesheets and project schedule activities can be aggregated in a single report that will help the contractor to find out if there were any events that have occurred and captured in the daily report that could have impacted the actual hours spent on any specific date. The report below shows the actual daily resource hours spent from the timesheet module which is color coded by the type of hours spent, that is regular, overtime or premium. The tabular section details how those resources hours were spent on any specific day using the Daily Report module. The report will describe what the resources have performed on that date and if there were problems reported. The report could have different type of filters to expedite the data analysis.

In conclusion, there are many business intelligence and data visualizations applications that organizations can have access to analyze the performance of their project. Nevertheless, the major challenge that faces those organizations is to what extent they can trust the everyday projects data that they need to have to make this analysis to provide them with the insight to make better and faster informed decisions. Without having an integrated project management information system like PMWeb, organizations will continue having the high risk of not getting the right data that is captured in the right format by the right team member at the right time.