Friday, December 29, 2017

Project Resource/Budget Planning Tools & Techniques

The project resource/budget plan is a description of how the business resources will be applied to the project activities. It includes the identification and deployment of the team's human resources and the planned financial impact of the project on the financial accounts and reports of the business. Resource/budget planning links with schedule planning and scope planning since the resources are required to perform the project activities (scope) at a particular time (schedule).

Many organizations have customized tools or templates to assist the project team with resource/budget planning that are linked to the organization's human resources or financial systems. I recommend that you use those if they are available. I have found six resource/budget planning tools or techniques to be helpful, depending upon the uncertainty and complexity of the project. These are the Team List, the Responsibility Matrix, and the Staffing Management Plan, all of which apply to assigning and managing human resources on the project. For budgeting, I recommend the Spend Plan, the Project Budget, and the Appropriations Request. There are two topics that are integrally related with budgeting but are also integrally related to other project management topics so they have received their own topic page. These are Project Estimating techniques and Earned Value Analysis.

Team List

The Team List is a very simple, yet vital, project management tool. This is a list of all the project team members and appropriate contact information. This is normally the only human resource planning tool required for Simple and Focused projects. In these cases, the Team List is used to ensure that a representative from each organization that is required to perform activities on the project has been identified and contacted. Because the scope and complexity of Simple and Focused projects is limited, there is usually only one individual from a participating organization assigned to the project and that individual's role is seldom of a full-time nature for the life of the project.

Responsibility Matrix

The Responsibility Matrix (also called the Responsibility/Accountability Matrix or the Roles and Responsibility Matrix) is a table that is used to provide clarity for all of the project team members concerning their expected level of involvement on the project. The matrix is normally constructed by listing the project tasks or activities down the vertical side of the matrix and the project team members on the horizontal side of the matrix. The project teram member who is responsible for planning and ensuring that each task is executed properly is identified in the matrix. In addition, the matrix will normally identify other project team members who are involved in some fashion on the activity.

The designation of the role of a project team member within the matrix can be done using several methods. The most common technique is to an acornym RACI. However, I have seen three different definitions of RACI in use. My preferred approach is to designate the responsible team member with an "R." If the activity is a cross-functional activity, I will indicate the other team members who must contribute to the work of the activity with a "C." If the activity requires an approval of one or more of the other project team members I will indicate that with an "A." Finally, I indicate those team members who need to be informed that the activity has been completed with an "I." If using RACI, be certain you know and understand the definitions that your organization uses.

The Responsibility Matrix is used primarily on Full-Scale projects as a tool for both communicating assignments and for risk identification with respect to the capacity and capability of project team members. If a team member is carrying a particularly heavy load, for instance if they are "Responsible" for many activities, there is a risk that the team member will be over-allocated and unable to perform some of the activities according to the project plan. Also, the matrix can put a spotlight on an individual who is being asked to accomplish activities beyond their experience or capacity. I find it is easier to have a discussion with the individual or their manager when we are looking at the requirements of the individual's column on the matrix rather than implying that the individual is somehow unable or incompetent to work on the project. Further, the matrix will indicate those activities where there is no "Contributing" support for the individual who is "Responsible." In those cases, there is a risk that if the team member on that activity is reassigned or temporarily unavailable, there is no one who can be immediately turned to on the project team to keep the activity moving along.

Staffing Management Plan

The Staffing Management Plan is a document or spreadsheet that indicates how the pool of available program human resources will be deployed across the sub-projects associated with a Complex program. A Complex program is normally managed by dividing the work into a set of inter-related Focused and Full-Scale projects. Key individuals and resource pools are likely to be supporting several of those sub-projects. The Staffing Management Plan indicates how that individual or pool should allocate their time, for instance 50% to Sub-project A, 30% to Sub-project B, and 20% to Sub-project C. Also, the Staffing Management Plan indicates how many individuals from the pool are allocated to each of the Sub-projects.

The Staffing Management Plan normally shows the allocation of the resources across the sub-projects over particular time periods. I usually create the Staffing Management Plan in a spreadsheet with each column representing a month. However, I have occasionally allocated resources by quarter and by week. The Staffing Management Plan must therefore be integrated with the high-level schedule of each sub-project so that resources are deployed at the appropriate time and so that the program manager will be aware when resources will be available for redeployment to other sub-projects.

Project Spend Plan

The Project Spend Plan is normally developed as a spreadsheet and lists the planned purchases of the project team. This plan is usually created for Simple and Focused projects as a means of communicating the spending intention of the project team. Because of the small size of these projects, the projects often are not tracked as separate line items in the organization's financial system. For these types of projects, the Spend Plan usually is short - and many times is non-existent (nothing is purchased on the project). When I create a Spend Plan, I usually divide the list into investments and expenses. For investments, I list the actual piece of equipment I intend to purchase. With expenses, I will further segregate them into several categories based upon the type of expense. The categories I normally use are: material, travel expenses, and contractors/temps.

Project Budget

The Project Budget is the time-based spreadsheet that shows the project team's intent to spend the organization's resources on project activities. The spreadsheet is typically organized by listing the project activities in the spreadsheet rows, and designating each column as a time period. I normally set up the Project Budget with each column representing a calendar month. However, I have occasionally further decomposed the activities to have each column represent a week. The data created in the Project Budget is transferred to the organization's financial planning and management system. Some organizations have dedicated project financial trackiong systems. These systems will have budgeting templates, forms and screens to assist the project team with the budgeting process.

All of the project activities are usually listed by some organizing principle based upon the policies and procedures of the organization. The most common organizing principles are: project phases, WBS structure, department/business function, geography/location, cost center, and cost category. Depending upon the magnitude and complexity of the project, several of the organizing principles may be used in combination with each other.

Once the Project Budget is created, the intended costs for each time period are summed in each column. Often the total for each column is shown, and a cumulative total is created showing the total intended costs from project start through each time period. Also, these totals are normally shown in graphs to assist in communicating the spending needs of the project.

Project Appropriations Request

The Project Appropriations Request is part of an organizational process rather than just a form or template. Many projects result in the creation of an investment asset that must be recorded on the organization's Balance Sheet. Once the investment asset is in service, it must then be depreciated - impacting both the Balance Sheet and the Earnings Statement. The values on these financial statements has a significant impact on taxes and on reporting to the investment community. It is imperative that the organization's financial management is aware of the investments created or procured by the project team. The project team communicates its investment intentions to the organization's financial management through the Appropriations Request process.

Each of the organizations I have worked with had their own unique process. Some had forms to complete, others had spreadsheets to be completed, still others had internal websites that guided an individual through the process. Regardless of your organization's specific approach, there are several elements that seem to be universal in the process. These are:
  • Identification of the asset by name or type of asset(milling machine, server, facility expansion)
  • Purchase price or development cost of the asset
  • Date the asset will go into service and be available for use

In addition, many organizations require the project team to provide additional information about the investment asset such as:
  • The financial benefit the organization will receive from having the asset in use (this is usually the business benefit of the project)
  • The return on investment calculation (NPV, IRR, payback period, or whatever other method is preferred by the organization
  • The depreciation schedule for the asset (this is often predetermined once the asset category is established)
  • The asset's residual value once it is fully depreciated