Resource loaded schedules can be a significant undertaking and require careful consideration of many facets of project execution. However, resource loading of hours, budget, staff or other key resources is an effective way to identify and eliminate many “surprises” during the planning stages, when they can be corrected with minimal impact.
Resource loading is therefore expected for project schedules. In many circumstances, the effort to resource load a schedule can make the difference between success and failure.
Resource loading is not just a way to automatically create a staffing chart from the schedule.
Hills and valleys in resource requirements generally represent inefficiencies, so efforts must be made to “level” the resources in schedule. Doing so can provide significant cost savings to the project, often with no impact at all to the overall schedule. Slippage in critical or near-critical activities can have significant negative impacts on a project.
However, if managed properly, activities with ample float can be allowed to slip in a controlled manner without compromising the overall project completion date.
Managing resources includes analyzing options to shift resources from activities with more float to activities with less float. Properly executed, this allows the project manager to reduce the overall project schedule without increasing resources. Schedules can be loaded with one or more resources.
It is common to load a schedule with costs or total labor hours only, but projects with significant resource constraints may benefit from loading specific types of equipment or loading labor by discipline. When resources are constrained (e.g., only one crane or one technical writer is available), the schedule can produce reports that plot resource use versus availability, and show when the demand exceeds the available capacity.
Activities can be moved or durations changed to bring the resource demand within the true level of availability. In general, resources with float can be extended to reduce the daily resource demand on that activity. This allows resources to be placed where the need is greatest (often characterized by the least float).