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APM PMQ (BoK7) Resource Management – Podcast Transcript

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Published: 16th November 2020

Introduction

Welcome to a Parallel Project Training APM Project Management Qualification podcast based on the APM body of knowledge seventh edition. You should be using this in conjunction with our elearning podcasts, and potentially a tutor led course. For more information please visit www.parallelprojecttraining.com

Paul 

Hello, welcome to another Parallel Project Training podcast with me Paul Naybour and John Bolton. Hello, John. Hello. And today we’ll talk about resources. Hey, have you ever met a project manager? He said I’ve got more resources than I need on my project. No, no, it’s just one of those things you never hear? Isn’t it? Yep. Think resources are probably the biggest challenge I don’t have enough resources I need more resources. So how can we plan our resources better? So the assessment criteria describe how resources are categorised and allocated on a linear life cycle. Discard pile is also categorised and allocated on a iterative lifecycle and differentiate between smoothing and levelling. So let’s define what resources are: resources about everything that you use to create the project it’s the inputs really isn’t it to the project, and they categorise them in different ways. They talk about consumables, yes, consumable resources stuff that you can’t replace. Yeah, I think fuel’s the best example of money human money.

John 

I mean, money just flows from one place to another.

Paul 

Yeah, but i’ts consumed anyway.

John 

And the project whether it is for the budget point of view is consumed so you can’t spend it twice

Paul 

Fuel is the best example I think because we can’t use it again. That’s not a resource time. seconds Should I think Yeah. Anyway, covered. And paper is sometimes consumable. So if I talk about consumables in a project tipex pens, pens are consumable. Things that

John 

In the past we really worried about tipex.

Paul 

Yeah, well, the toner cartridge is consumable, so that consumable things that are not part not delivered as part of the project, but they’re used up in the creation of the project.

John 

Yeah. But I mean, really, does that play a big part? I mean,

Paul 

Well usually finance people want to know what your consumable costs are gonna be. So that P&L account they’ll have consumables. Okay. All right. So that’s why they classify that differently. Our resources are things that are used to create the project. So mostly human resources. Yep. But also things that you could reuse steel, nuts, material normally. Okay, so resources, usually things that are used. Yeah, I mean, that’s, it’s interesting. Actually, we use resources to define the whole thing in other resources. Yeah. Human Resources. Still resources, concrete resources. Both, if set a project and what resources are using, they usually

John 

lose to about people and you talk about people. Yeah.

Paul 

equipment or plant .plant is a better than why did they call it plant.

John 

I don’t think it means anything to people outside.

Paul 

Okay, so that’s crazy. Yeah.

John 

I mean, if you said to, if you said to somebody in an IT project, what plant are you using? Okay, they’ll probably talk about the triffid in the corner. Yeah,

Paul 

I mean, so usually what we mean by equipment is stuff that enables us to deliver the project, but it’s not delivered as part of the project. So scaffolding, cranes. Yeah. And in development environments, test environments. Yeah. servers. Yeah, but not servers that are delivered as part of the project.

John 

No, no, their deliverables there. Yeah.

Paul 

So materials, when we talk about material, what we normally mean is stuff that’s left in the project. So it still works :windows, concrete. And so I put servers and laptops, you know, if it’s an IT system, that are going to be on the server farm, our materials, air conditioning systems, they’re all materials that get so demonstrating materials and equipment as you take equipment away, and you can use it on future projects, whereas materials are part of the deliverable of the project.

John 

Yeah, I mean, it’s sort of the difference between direct and indirect customer. direct, indirect direct is the stuff you leave behind indirect is the stuff he used to build the stuff.

Paul 

direct costs, usually charged costs, they’re charged direct to the project like my time as a designer, all materials are built direct to the indirect costs usually overhead costs like HR or finance or offices, charges that are allocated across Costs all the costs in the organisation.

John 

Okay, there’s more accountancy, so they are overhead costs.

Paul 

Yes. indirects usually know your overheads. Usually Qantas

John 

in their eyes, we’re gonna have to, we have to move on because we’re gonna argue about this.

Paul 

Yeah, well, it depends on your finance rules, what you define as an indirect or direct cost. So it’s usually a bean counter. Sorry, accountancy definition.

John 

materials.

Paul 

Materials are things that are delivered as part of the project stay part, the project given to the customer at the end, effectively handed over as part of the handover

John 

for students with materials and equipment and

Paul 

equipment you take away and use on the next project. So your development environment you take away us on another project, right? So materials

John 

that you leave behind.

Paul 

Yes, right materials are. That’s right part of the project deliverable. Space is the physical space, we need to work on a project. So this is most important if you’re working in city centres, where you’ve got constraints, physical space, so it’s where you store plant equipment, materials while you’re delivering. But it also could talk about how you’re going to get space planning is about how you’re going to get when you’re building something, how you’re going to get physical things like Transformers into the building once it’s been built. So you’ve got to plan that access route. And there’s some really good videos on about cross rail, putting the Transformers in the relay fan through the gap. Oh, look, it does. We’ve millimetres to spare. Well, that’s because we designed it that way.

John 

We fought about this great big silos so late, and then through the holes where the escalators are going to go.

Paul 

Yeah, that’s right. Before you escalate. Yeah.

John 

fix them.

Unknown Speaker 

About me yesterday. Yes.

John 

Yeah. Take them out the same way they put them in. Yeah. Right. So allocating resources and allocating resources. So let’s remind everyone what a linear life cycle is. It’s so like, start one and finish the other.

Paul 

Yeah, do all the stuff in between. So how do we allocate resources to that?

John 

There’s two things that and the iterative life cycle is where there’s less, there’s more flexibility, more uncertainty. And we’re, we’re, we’re worrying more about time boxes. Yeah. So the fundamental difference with the two is in a linear life cycle, you have a fixed scope, and your time and your cost is so fixed scope, where your time and your resources and your scope. Yeah, so you deploy your resources, availability of time is more or less fixed, because of your critical path analysis. Yeah. And then you flex the resources to try and achieve it. Yes. So in an iterative life cycle, you’ve still got a fixed time, but you flex your resources and your scope to fit into the time box that you’ve allocated. So if that’s the that’s the fundamental difference with the two, two types of approaches. So if you look at a linear lifecycle, the traditional way of working out whether you can do the work in the in the time that you’ve got within the critical path is big, whether or not you’ve got enough resources to throw at that particular task when you need them. Yeah. So you can find yourself resource constrained where you don’t have enough people. So if you’ve got six person weeks of work, that’s either two people for three weeks or three people for two weeks. Well, if you haven’t got three people in, you only got to that task is going to take three weeks, whether you like it or not. That might be a problem. Or it might not. If that task is on the critical part of the consequence of that is it’s going to extend the end date. Yes. which ends up with the concepts of resource levelling. Yes, so you’ve levelled the project, by implication extended the end date. If you if you can, if you have got three people for two weeks, then you won’t extend the project and you’re within your resource constraints, everything’s fine. If the task, if you haven’t got three resources, and the task isn’t on the critical path, and you can extend it by a week without affecting the end date. What you’ve done is you smooth the task and you smooth the project. Yes, so it’s a great idea to smooth the project anyway. Because you get rid of peaks and troughs, you get rid of periods of inactivity, and you get periods of high activity and you smooth them out to be a longer period of moderate activity, which is fine, so long as you’ve got enough flow to do that with otherwise you end up levelling. In an iterative life cycle, you have a fixed time box, six week time box. You decide the scope of work, you’re going to try and achieve in that six weeks, and then you go hell for leather, try and do it.

Paul 

But you vary the scope. Say Say I’m going to put five people on this for six weeks. What can we get done within that? That’s right, that’s right.

John 

So usually A cheese

Paul 

with a customer say, prioritise your Moscow, prioritise what you need.

John 

And then we’ll show you take a proportion of the moustaches, the few of the could haves and try and get that done. Yeah. But if you run out of time you run out of time, and that constrains your deliverables. You deliver what you’ve got. And if that is sufficient, then that’s fine. Next escape to fit we’ve nailed remaining requirements, yes, spill over into the next time box. So as reprioritized. So you can see how that would work. We’ve got quite tight deadlines, and you want to turn something around quickly, or you’ve got something that’s quite uncertain square, where you grab,

Paul 

it’s where you can flex the scope as you go. Yes, that’s right. So it’s where you can flex the scope as you go. So you could show something to somebody and get their responses.

John 

You couldn’t couldn’t time box, a building of a bridge, for example? Because you couldn’t decide to, you know, oh, we didn’t get time to finish the third, third here. So we’re actually going to put the deki in anyway. And yeah, it floats.

Paul  

Yeah, exactly.

John 

So you know, there are times when it works. And that’s right. That’s right. That’s the difference. Really, is you kind of flexing the scope with one. Yeah. And the other one, you flexing

Paul 

the resource resources. Yeah, that’s right. So we could just go back over smoothing. So the way I remember smoothing, levelling is smoothing is keep the same end date. Yeah. And you use a float that you’ve got within the plan to try and smooth out the resource demands, smooth out the peaks and troughs levelling. The way I remember that is you let the end date go late, yes, to end and use that flexibility on the end date to make sure that nobody works this way more than they’re committed to it. But it’s so smooth, that smoothing doesn’t

John  

affect the end date, levelling does,

Paul 

yes, that’s moving in date stays the same level in the end date floats. All goes latest. And so then we need to talk about resource planning and intuitive cost planning. So cost planning is life cycle is fairly simple. Actually. Once you go, you’ve got six people for six weeks, and that’s their day, that’s 36 weeks worth of work six weeks worth of work. The challenge is how many iterations you’re gonna get to have to have to meet that minimum viable product. So you don’t know how far how many bites the cherry, you’re going to have to get to, to deliver what the customer wants. But hopefully, you’ve got a good relationship, your customer and they’ll be happy with what you’ve done for them for the money they’ve spent.

John 

Yeah, yeah. It does seem like you’re always coming back for more though, with its its

Paul 

its cost plus, yeah.

John 

You’ve got to have the right head on today’s our fixed price. type of price. Yeah.

Paul 

And then, how do you work out the cost in linear life cycle? That’s fairly easy, because you know what resources you’re going to use each week. And you can just do a big spreadsheet, add them all up, like we’ve got in the book.

John 

We The reason there is the other reason that’s in there is because traditionally, the accountants and everybody else wants to see some sort of cost curve. Yes, I’ve got cash flow. Yes. Because they want to know how much to spend on when

Paul 

Yes, well as to be easier for negative one was always the same six people for six weeks when I was 16.

John 

It was a flatline. Yeah. Yeah. But, okay. I mean, the the cost allocation is still the same for an iterative, it’s the amount of work multiplied by the rate. Yes. Right. So multiply by the number of people multiply the rate. So the two things are exactly the same. It’s just, it goes back to the fundamental principle of both, and how you are planning. So the cost allocation rises or falls with the resource allocation, assuming that you’re using people, Yeah, yep. Yeah. Okay, if you’re using if you’re using large lumps of material, so even on an iterative project using a software development, you could, you’re still gonna need to do a cost model, because at some point, you’re going to need to buy the equipment. Yes, desktops, laptops, you’re still going to hire the building. So even on an iterative project, you’re not only talking about resource people resources, you’re talking about all the equipment and materials. So that will rise and fall in an asynchronous manner it will rise and fall out of step with the resource loading. So it’s it is a concept is worth hanging onto. Also, I mean, for the point of view of doing things like earned value, you kind of need a plan cost curve

Paul 

for intuitive

John 

football for linear

Paul 

alpha linear Yeah, that’s what we’re gonna do earned value. alliterative might be an interesting concept that’s worth a blood

John 

earned value or

Paul 

lifestyle. Yeah, that would be like a total anathema that would that now you’ve got me thinking now?

John 

No. Well, it’s the same as it’s actually the same as IRA is the same as your your cash flow monitoring on a construction job because yeah, if you’re paying on certificate which is effectively what you During your regular you’re recognising completion only when it’s done. Yes. So your earned value is always the same as your actual cost. Yes. So because because the completion certificates are always the same as the account cost, actual cost, so you haven’t actually got three curves. You only got two, but it still works. Yeah. took me ages to figure that out out of scope.

Paul 

today. Yes, it’s time for lunch. Yes. Good. That’s resource management. Thank you John, bye.

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