In order to perform Resource Management activities, such as making assignments, measuring utilization, or understanding work capacity vs. demand, a handful of information must be gathered and documented. This week’s blog will define some of the suggested building blocks of data needed to properly use the Workload Balancer and Resource Scheduling tools in Workfront.
DOCUMENTING KNOWN PROJECT WORK
Once a project has been approved it can start to be planned. This typically involves a project or traffic manager defining and validating a list of activities or tasks, their durations, and dependencies or dates. To ensure successful resource management, there are a few other pieces of information that must be included:
Assignments: Each task should be assigned the Job Roles or Users that will be contributing their effort to the completion of the work.
Planned Hours: This represents the amount of effort needed to complete the task. For example, while a task may take 5 days to complete from start to finish (Duration), it may only require 10 hours of actual work (Planned Hours). The 10 hours could be assigned to an individual or multiple resources. Planned Hours will provide the basis for understanding work demand in the resource management tools for understanding utilization and capacity planning.
PRO TIP: It can be difficult to estimate planned hours if you have not done this before. Even if you are not confident in your estimate, it’s okay to guess so that you can begin using the resource planning tools — your estimates will improve over time. You can also compare Planned Hours to Actual Hours logged using a report to view any discrepancies, see a story unfold and in turn improve the estimates for future projects. Use templates to help ensure these building blocks of data are present in ALL projects.
DOCUMENTING UNKNOWN PROJECT WORK
There may be work that we anticipate, but that has not yet been approved. If this work is not documented in Workfront, then we cannot show how it will affect future demand. One technique would be to create a single project to represent all unknown future work. Within that project, create high-level tasks to represent the future work and estimate the job roles and planned hours that may be needed. Keep in mind that once this work is approved and real projects are created, you will need to remove tasks or deduct planned hours from this project.
DOCUMENTING NON-PROJECT WORK
Many resources spend part of their work week doing tasks that are non-project related such as company meetings, operational responsibilities, and other tasks to “keep the lights on.” It is estimated that a user will consistently spend 20% of their time on non-project work, so it is important to deduct this time by adjusting their FTE (Full Time Employment) value in their user profile. In this scenario, change their FTE from 1 to 0.8 to represent their project working hours to be at 80% of their available schedule (i.e. if their schedule allows 40 hours per week, resource utilization tools will show overallocation at 32 hours instead of 40).
If a users’ non-project work will fluctuate over time, create a project to represent this non-project work. Similar to the technique for Documenting Unknown Project Work, add a task for each time unit (i.e. quarter, month, or week) and assign a user and add estimated planned hours to each task.
MAKING ASSIGNMENTS - PROJECT RESOURCE SCHEDULER
When planning work for a newly approved project, several steps should take place:
Determine the types of resources or job roles that will be required to complete the work. These job role assignments may be pre-determined by a template or made at the time of project creation by a Project or Traffic Manager.
From the Edit Project menu, set the Resource Manager field (found under Overview > Project Stakeholders) to the appropriate Project or Traffic Manager. Remember that only work for projects they are assigned as the Resource Manager of will appear in the Scheduling tool.
Assign the actual work contributors to the applicable tasks.
When the Project or Traffic Manager has the go-ahead to make assignments, the project Scheduling tool can be used to display current resource workload to ensure assignments are made to individuals with availability.
NOTE: Unassigned work appears at the top and can be manually dragged to applicable resources with that role or assigned in bulk using the Actions button.
PRO TIP: In the settings area, ensure that the “Show Totals for Daily Planned Hours” toggle is turned on. For larger projects, leverage the filtering options to display a subset of work and resources such as looking at just one job role at a time.
MAKING ASSIGNMENTS - WORKLOAD BALANCER AND GLOBAL RESOURCE SCHEDULER
When Project, Traffic, or Resource Managers need to make assignments across multiple projects, the Workload Balancer or Global Scheduler can be used to display current resource workload to ensure assignments are made to individuals with availability. These tools are an ideal way to view short-term allocations and utilization as they display the daily allocation of work for 1 day to up to 6 weeks at a time.
In the Workload Balancer, unassigned work appears at the top and can be assigned to applicable resources with that role by clicking the three dots on the right side of a work item.
The Global Scheduler allows for making bulk assignments when several work items need to be assigned to a single user at the same time. Unassigned work appears at the top and can be manually dragged to applicable resources with that role or assigned in bulk using the Actions feature. In some organizations, this may involve collaboration between project owners and resource managers to ensure the proper authorization and assignment of resources.
PRO TIP: In the settings area, ensure that the “Show Totals for Daily Planned Hours” toggle is turned on. For larger projects, leverage the filtering options to display a subset of work and resources, such as looking at just one job role at a time.
VIEWING UTILIZATION USING THE RESOURCE PLANNER (VIEW BY USER)
As you start to look beyond your immediate resource scheduling needs, it is important to evaluate longer term resource allocations to understand if individuals are over or under allocated to work. This can be done by leveraging the Resource Planner, which has three different views, each with a different purpose.
To understand utilization, the View by User option displays a list of users, broken down by:
Availability or capacity
Planned work or demand
Variance in hours and/or as a percentage for the next four Weeks, Months, or Quarters. When the planned hours exceed the availability for a given time period, the variance information will turn red to indicate an overallocation.
This view allows resource managers or other work managers to easily find potential resource scheduling conflicts. If conflicts are identified, managers should use the project-level tools — Workload Balancer or Scheduler — to resolve these. This may include collaboration between project owners and resource managers to change the resource assignment, reschedule the dates of the work, or put work on hold.
PRO TIP: In larger organizations, leverage the filtering options to display a subset of users such as looking at just one job role or team at a time. If more than 4 units of time need to be viewed (i.e. 12 months), the export tool can be used to see more information in a spreadsheet view.
MORE TO COME...
The Resource Management Did You Know? blog series will continue over the next few weeks with best practices to ensure the work data that drives these tools is complete and accurate as well as more detailed best practices for using each of these resource management tools. Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs on the following topics and make sure to check out the Video Library on Workfront One for additional resource management videos.
Strategic Capacity and Demand Management (Resource Planner)
Identify and grow your Resource Management Maturity