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Resource Planning Best Practices

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Johnny Drama
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Hello all,

New to this board and have a question regarding resource planning best practices. I am not a PM, but an Internal Auditor trying to determine if something I believe is being done incorrectly is indeed just that.

I’m reviewing several project plans, and they resources allocated to tasks in the project in two ways 1) Individual resources or 2) A group combined as one resource.

My problem is this...looking at an individual resource it is easy to identify when that resource is being over-allocated on tasks, but when I look at a Group (which may consist of 5-6 resources rolled into 1) there’s no way to tell and in many cases it shows the "resource" as being over allocated since the project planner has put 8 hours of time for each resource in the group on one task in one day, i.e. 40 hours in one day on the one task.

Not sure if I explained this correctly. Common sense and what I know about PM tells me that this is not the best way to go about things.

Any thoughts/recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time.

Replies

Rafael Davila
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Batch Plant using Skills
Using skill priorities, only when regular time is no longer available overtime will be assigned.
Rafael Davila
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Johnny

From the following print screen you will see it is possible to display both Crews as a Group and the individual components. You can even constraint your resources not only by allowing the individual resources to create as many crews as possible but you can also set a limit on the quantity of your crews.

Crew Details

Use of both can give you a better perspective. I give you much credit for exposing the need to see the big picture as well.

Best Regards,
Rafael
Rafael Davila
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Rashid,

You are right, there are many ways to skin a cat, and all work if by the end of the day the cat is without skin, I agree with you that different project requires different approaches, different activity scale. The software should not tell you how to model your job; it should provide enough options as for you to model your job the way is to be executed by your team.

The Batch Plant would have an activity of its own, perhaps a few activities. I would allocate the mobile units to individual activities as a single resource say Batch Plant Delivery with a maximum daily availability using partial assignments similar to the modeling of a crane.

If the Batch Plant can deliver 500 cm of concrete per day the production will determine how much to allocate to a particular activity. If activity A requires 200CM and activity B requires 150CM the partial assignment for A Batch Plant Delivery will be 200/500=40% and the partial assignment for B Batch Plant Delivery will be 150/500=30% so both pours can happen the same day and there will still be 30% available. Well I believe this is a close representation to reality that is practical and will follow resource allocation in a meaningful and transparent way.

This will not prevent you to assign the full fleet in the morning to pour A while at PM the full fleet will be pouring B. If you go by truck assignment then you might be in need to model shifts and these complicate things when shifts will vary on a daily basis.

UNLEVELED RESOURCE:
BP Delivery - unleveled

AFTER LEVELING:
BP Deliveries

Please note that because you are planning for sharing the plant on a daily basis by allocating a percentage of it to each pour on a single day you must set the duration of all Concrete Pouring equal to 1 day. For other resources you can set adequate partial assignments. Or if you prefer, you can create several activities properly tied to the start of the Concrete Pouring and then resource load them. Naming and how much detail will depend on your particular scheduling needs.

If you want to model the possibility of overtime at the Batch Plant perhaps using Skills with a skill priority to use regular hours’ skills can do the trick.

If you do not like this approach you can use material resources production and consumption. In this particular case I believe it is easier to model using partial assignments, for other situations the use of material resources might be better or perhaps the only option. If you are serious about resource usage and your software do not provide for the modeling and leveling of material resources and to model partial assignments better start looking for something better.

Best Regards,
Rafael
Rashid Iqbal
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Rafael..

You made a lot of sence...and I know you are right...for the type of the project you are talking about.

But for a bigger project

1. Will you allocate the batch plant to the activties as well
2. Will you allocate the transit mixers to the activties as well
3. Will you allocate the mobile concrete pumps to the activties as well

For a bigger project the above mentioned resources are calculated/scheduled differently i.e.workload per week. Again there can be different ways...willing to learn how the other guys have done it.

Best Regards and thanks for replying.

r






Rafael Davila
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Rashid

I do not resource load the schedule with overhead resources that play no role in my resource leveling. Resources that might determine if an activity can be or cannot be performed, these I include. In our schedules crane use is not earnable as is not considered a deliverable, is critical and scarce resource that must be considered therefore no matter it is not earnable or billable it is to be included, the same with other resources.

The purpose of our schedules is not to make them substitute our billings, they are complementary and best used if WBS for activities is kept separate from BOQ, use of cost codes and cost centers allow us to show the details when required to model BOQ.

I always assign the resources to the activity they will be working on and in this way it is clear on which activity and the resource leveling will drive the activity and not any “parent” activity that might induce errors in my scheduling.

Using partial assignments my resources can be assigned to several activities a portion of the activity duration. Therefore a crew might be working at the same time on several activities.

I use multi-resources so I keep my crews and my detail on crew composition; I keep the best of both worlds.

I resource load my activities by assigning the crew at a click of the mouse and the individual resources will be automatically assigned no matter if two or a hundred resource types. Detailed crew composition allows me also to share resources among crews. For example my slab concreting crew is composed of concrete masons, formwork workers (borrowed as to make up a complete crew as required for the pour) crane, crane operator and a crew supervisor. I assign the activity for a full day but the crew composition is assigned differently, concrete masons and supervisor a whole day as to include finishing operations while crane, crane operator and borrowed formwork workers just 50%. Is very simple, is transparent and follows true resource leveling. I do not share resources among all crews but there are exceptions and slab concreting is one.

Resource details on crew composition do not prevents me from reporting crew usage without getting into the details.

Best Regards,
Rafael
Rashid Iqbal
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I am not a proponent of allocating Indirect equipment in the schedule; If I have to I will allocate it in single summary type activity (not a hammock). I have always advocated that only earnable hours and earnable work to be incorporated in the schedule. I have been in situations where the people asked me as where are Project Managers hours in the schedule ……my Good Gracious God..

Dust Control, maintenance and development of haul roads is an indirect item; I try not to include in the schedule. Only progressable work and related hours/equipment will get in the schedule..

Construction and especially major earthworks or road projects are really ‘parade of crews’. One crew walking behind the other …with some buffer..Clearing Crew does the clearing and stripping, behind this there will be earthwork crew (excavation team) and (Embankment team). Behind them is the subgrade crew (months behind) and subbase and base crew just behind the subgrade crew. When they get to the finish line almost all will go out of the gate around the same time frame because there is buffer in between these crews.

This equipment work in crews…they can’t work alone. Shovel will stop if the dump truck is not there to take the load; Rollers will stop if the Grader and the small Dozer ahead of them has not been able to spread the stock piles. These are really crews….now you load them as a crew or load them as a individual equipment it depends on you, your project and how you want to manage it. Scheduling is to create an abstract of reality….somewhat.

I support Crews due to the following reasons:

1.     Easier to load
2.     Easier to level
3.     Easier to explain i.e. 2 Stripping crews, 3 borrrow area crews, 3 ROW excavation crews…etc
4.     There are always changes from bid to construction and even in construction in the type of the equipment…777 can be replaced by even bigger trucks, D9 can be traded by D8 or D10.
5. If there ae changes there is only one Units per time period to work with not 10 or 15.

And you sometimes I have been asked to change from crews to equipment and I did it…Global change ..import export are handy.


Anyways this my view and I am more than willing to listen other’s point of view and learn from them

Thanks.

R
Rafael Davila
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Mike,

But hook up time for concreting, bucket up and bucket down, is not the same for slab concreting as for walls concreting, the pouring rates do vary, as for walls and flying-forms it is another quite different thing so you cannot model the crane usage based on quantity of lifts at a construction site, better use partial assignments.

Best Regards,
Rafael
Mike Testro
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Hi Rafael

I just answered a thread on crane hook time.

It is possible to add a hook time output to tasks that need the resource - as part of the gang make up.

Over resourcing can then be viewed and leveled.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Rafael Davila
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Mike,

That CPM software cannot plan for crane usage and cannot warn you about over-allocations? This is new to me. In multistory jobs crane usage is critical, you cannot assign more activities it can handle.

Not every day the crane is doing the same thing, one day might be concrete slab pouring AM and PM on wall forms and wall concreting. Next day early am flying slab forms relocation to upper floor, and PM materials handling. Do not abuse laddering and lag it might backfire.

Best Regards,
Rafael
Mike Testro
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Hi Rafael

So everything is normal - why bother trying to plan for the unplannable?

Because you need an optimal benchmark to measure actual performance.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Rafael Davila
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I am back, I was going out of the job on the second truck as it was 100% idle, having a few beers, don’t tell the PM he does not know when the trucks are idle.

Hey, there are 14 concrete trucks at the entrance waiting for the tower crane, the masonry subcontractor argue it was assigned to him for materials handling no matter how many activities were competing for the crane. Is on his CPM schedule.
If one crew is needed then the truck will stiil be used 50% and you will know that other 50% of truck time is not used.
The best method is most close to the reality.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Mike Testro
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Hi Rafael

So your excavation crews leave for a while and you send away your water trucks to bring them back again when required for another week or so?

What happens if only one crew is needed - then they have a whole truck to themselves.

The best method is to plan for excavation crew continuity.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Rafael Davila
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Mike,

During certain portions of the work not all crews will be working, you got to know when and how many will be required.

Also if you are to use resource constraining the loading on summary bars will not be considered by the software resource constraining algorithm. Performing resource leveling with summary bars whose duration will change based on resource availability seems like a monumental circular reference issue, perhaps can be done but not sure.

For a Tower Crane you shall use partial assignments in order to view usage, otherwise you might not predict overloading.

Best regards,
Rafael
Mike Testro
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Hi Rafael

Put your eartworks under a summary bar and add your water trucks to that - same as with a tower crane.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Rafael Davila
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Rashid,

Suppose you are doing earthwork close to a residential area and in order to control dust you are required to use a water truck to keep dust under control. If you have 4 crews and you share 2 water trucks moving in circle around the 4 work areas. How do you assign them? As ½ truck per crew (1/2 x 4 = 2 ) or as 2 water trucks each 25% assignment on each area (2 x 25% x 4 = 2)? I believe to make it transparent you should use the assignment of the 2 trucks each working 25% of the time on each work area incidental with the crew. Because it is an assignment incidental to the work of the earthwork crews it must belong to each crew even when partial.

You got to keep the details. Fooling your software as to represent partial assignments using fractions of resources is not a good idea, is not transparent. Keep the details.

Johnny

I believe partial assignment and sharing of resources can be common to IT projects, in this regard use of partial assignments, the way you actually perform, is the way to go.

Keep in mind using resource groups or multi-resources in the appropriate way do not mean losing the details. The details or crew resources as well as resource groups or crews are both needed.

Best Regards,
Rafael
Hi Rashid,
the question was about resource overallocation.
Assigning crew INSTEAD of crew resources you may loose the information on individual resource usage and will not notice their overallocation.
If the crew EW A does some work and the Grader does another work at the same time the software will not show Grader overallocation (if only one Grader is available). So assigning some crew you shall assign all resources that belong to the crew. In other case you will not be able to get the reports on resource usage.
Best Regards,
Vladimir
Rashid Iqbal
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Resource Crew can provide you all the info that an individual resource assignment can tell. Just ask the ingredients of the crew

for example

EW A (Earthwork Crew A)

1. EX750
2. 4 Dump Trucks
3. 1 Grader
4. 2 Rollers
5. 1 Sheep Foot

etc.

Thanks.

r
Rafael Davila
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There is no problem with the use of resource groups/teams, as a matter of fact anything more than 0 is considered to be a team, yes even a one resource team. When you assign a group, you are assigning many individual resources, same as with a skill or multi-resource.

The software performs resource leveling/constraining using the individual resources availability. If there are not enough individual resources available it will know and will delay activity execution until the team can be assembled.

Teams: Team is a group of resources that work together on the activity assignment.

These can be:

a) Resource Assignments
1) Renewable
2) Non-renewable

b) Multi-Resources Assignments

c) Skill Assignments

Resource Assignments: Resources are skilled human resources, equipment, services, supplies, commodities, materiel, budgets, or funds. Resources are used to perform activities in the project.
Renewable resources are resources available to be used after they have already been used on activity. For example, grader, crane, worker or driver. Non-renewable resources are resources that can be used on one activity and are consumed, therefore after all are consumed they are no longer available.
Multi-Resources Assignments: Multi-resource is a steady group of resources that can work only together. Thus, multi-resources can be assigned to an activity as part of one team only. Note this is particular of Spider Project as you can assign several teams to an activity.

Skill Assignments: Resources and/or multi-resources are organized as resource skills in case they can be assigned to the activity execution as alternatives even with different productivities, costs and other characteristics. When a resource skill is assigned to the activity execution, total quantity (or productivity) of comprising resources (and/or multi-resources) is specified. If you use named resources (Name+MiddleName+LastName+…) this is usually where they should be allocated.

All software handle these in their own way, some have more functionalities other less. Of course these functionalities can be wrongly used and then the results can be unreliable, it depends on the user.

Best Regards,
Rafael