Key Steps to Achieve Accurate Resource Utilization Reporting: Part 1
Many organizations want to know how their resources are utilized. In fact, this can be critical to organizations that rely on proper resource utilization, such as a consulting group, a professional services organization, or an IT group overburdened with project requests. In my experience, accurate resource utilization is hard. It is not easy, it takes discipline, and it involves more than many organizations realize.
This is the first post in a series to help you achieve accurate resource utilization reporting in your project management software tools to support proper resource management. In this first post, I will cover the first key step that is necessary.
Let me cover one point before that. When I am using the term "resources", I am referring to people. How is the organization using its people? I understand that "resources" is a broader term and can encompass things like materials, money, or machinery. We are going to focus on "people resources", as they have the most impact on the most organizations.
With that out of the way, the first key step to achieve accurate resource utilization reporting is to capture all of the work. In other words, you cannot accurately determine how much work a resource has on their plate at a given point in time if you have not captured all of that work. In concept it seems easy, but in reality it is not. There are some considerations that play into this. This means that you must:
- Develop a good work breakdown structure (wbs) for every project. You have to capture all of the work that will truly be needed for every single project out there. And it needs to be detailed and accurate. In other words, if your work breakdown structure includes a line item for "Implement Product at Client", that's probably not going to cut it. You need to have enough detail to accurately know how many hours it is going to take to do this. Read my previous post for tips on how to do this.
- Capture non-project work. Most people do not devote 100% of their time to project work. They have some day-to-day operational or maintenance tasks. This is part of their workload as well. They attend meetings. They go to training. These have to be captured. There are generally a couple of ways of handling this type of work. You could capture all of this work, just as you have done for your project work. Or you could estimate the % of time each day that people spend on these things. For example, you could estimate that 40% of a person's day is consumed by non-project work. This gets into the topic of capacity which I will expand on in a future post.
A quick note. Do you have to have a good, detailed work breakdown structure with estimates? No, you don't. But the accuracy and detail of your reporting will correlate with that. The less detail and accuracy in the work estimates that you have captured, the less detail and accuracy you will have in your reporting of resource utilization. You will have to decide the right balance.