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Cognition

Resource Planning - Part of the Greater Guru Good

The Digital Project Management (DPM) community is experiencing something for the first time that has become old hat for the web design and development communities – open dialogue and the sharing of ideas. In the past couple years we’ve been able to tap into a growing number of open forums and online DPM communities (check out this article by the illustrious Brett Harned).

We can collectively geek out/freak out, asking and answering each others’ questions about process, tools, and the ‘softer’ art of people management.

As the Happy Cog team has been honing our approach to project resourcing, we’ve been zeroing in on which tools, conversations, and methods of information dissemination work best for our crew. As an homage to some recent resourcing conversations taking place in the larger DPM community, here’s a snapshot of our approach and what we’ve learned along the way.

THE PLAYERS:

Project Managers (PM’s)

As PM’s, we have the longest and most detailed view of each project. We are a tight group, always communicating and able to keep each other up to speed on the trajectory of our respective projects. We are also the most aware of aspects of a project that may not be captured in the project plans. For example, have any of the clients requested additional work necessitating a change request that would impact workload or project timeline?

Directors

By meeting (as needed) with our design and development directors, we are able to gain an understanding of project assignments through the lens of an individual’s professional development goals or how they think past and current assignments have worked on an individual and team level.

Sales Team

Once a month (more if needed) we review the sales pipeline with the sales team so that they have a current view of our project phases and assignments. On the flip side, we have the opportunity to catch any potential resourcing traffic jams based on when new projects would land, and then plan accordingly.

THE TOOLS:

ResourceGuru

There are of resourcing apps out there. We’ve evaluated many of them and have most recently landed on ResourceGuru has been great for us for a number of reasons:

  • It is super easy to assign hours to an individual by day (adding hours by week would be a nice feature addition – we’re not in the practice of micromanaging someone’s hours to the minute).
  • The weekly project view gives us a sense of how many project hours are booked each week.
  • Assigned hours can be copied from week to week, so it’s easy to plan ahead.

Each week our project managers enter project assignments in ResourceGuru in preparation for a meeting with directors. Using the bookings view and project reports in ResourceGuru we collectively talk through each project, first reviewing our project needs for the coming week in detail and then reviewing the next month at a broader level (using the projects report).

Google Docs

We’ve found that the single most important report or view missing from ResourceGuru’s set of reports is a project-level view of assignments over upcoming months.

To fill this gap, we created a spreadsheet with each phase for each project (this can easily be adapted for sprints if you using a more agile approach). This spreadsheet gives us the bigger picture view of assignments and phase overlap across all projects. We review it in tandem with the sales pipeline to get a sense of what our upcoming resource considerations may need to be.

2015 RESOLUTIONS

What have we learned from our evolving resourcing process? What can we do better in the coming year? In 2015 we resolve to:

Further our understanding of how time tracking (a bigger conversation for another day) impacts resource planning
Learn from the past – Take the time to compare time estimated vs time spent to get closer in our quest for estimating precision perfection.
Experiment with how we communicate all of this with our teams. What level of detail will guide someone as they plan their week vs. paralyzing them?
Learn from y’all!

How does your team approach resourcing? What tools do you use? Are you exploring any changes to your process? Let us know, we’re all ears!

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