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Hello everybody,

I want to know anything related with multi-project managing, resource sharing between projects, planning...

At the moment i'm project manager of an organization and we are working on several projects at the same time and with almost the same resources. I would want to learn about your experiences about how to manage all this projects in an effective way!

Many thanks in advance!

Lluís M.

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Hi Lluís,
How large is your company? I work at a small (23) interactive firm and we're always sharing resources, there's never a dull moment. We try to plan week by week and are also as much as possible planning beyond each week and trying to better forecast needs each month. The PM's request their resources for the following week on a resource spreadsheet (in fact, I need to do that now..) and then gather the next morning to discuss those needs and work out any overallocations. Of course we never go into the week with anyone scheduled for more than 7 hrs of work a day, even if some people decide to work overtime we never want to plan it for them.

And then during the week issues always come up where I need to pull someone off another project to help me with mine, or vice versa. I can't remember a week where our team followed the resource spreadsheet exactly, things always come up. The best thing to do is communicate as much as possible and accept that you won't always get the people you need exactly when you need them.

This is how we do it at a small company, I'm curious to hear how it's done at larger companies.

Good luck, and I hope this helps a little!
dina
Hi Luis and Dina,

I have been working with project based firms for over 10 years and understand it can be very challenging to manage your resources and maximize utilization. Using software to help you manage your resources is really the most efficient way to get the job done. We recommend Deltek Vision and the Planning module is the component you will need to help you with the task above. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Have a great day!
Hi Lluís

Do you have control over all the resources, or are they shared with other project managers in your organisation (excuse the spelling, I'm English!).

Michael
Hi,
the same thing happens at my company.
We use Post-it notes on wall for Long Term Planning (12-18 months),
Mid Time Planning (1-3 months) and Short Time Planning (5 weeks), a row for Function (long and Mid time) and on row for resource for Short Time. This is the Visible Planning method of Toyota Lean method.

Rarely the schedule with Microsoft Project is untoached after a week (!).

The use of post-It is the only tool for planning and to communicate the schedule to all resources without huge rework on planned work.

Sorry for my English, I'm not English! :-) )

Rosario
Lluis -

In my organization I have resources divided into multiple teams, based on their tasking (i.e. estimating, accounting, admin, safety, training, and project management). In order to aid the process of most efficient resource usage, we have developed a manpower scheduling toll (in MS Project in this case) where each effort and project is pinned to a timeline as a single bar, based on current best information for start/finish dates. Then the resources are assigned to each activity and we can analyze their level of commitment to tasks to determine when a resource is over-allocated.

We have to make sure that the resources are not planned at 100% of an available workweek, as we have to allow for vacation, sick time, training, travel, breaks, etc. What level you allow for your resources may be different for various resources. The more creativity required, the more people skills required for their tasks, the lower the amount of planned time they can work each week.

The tool helps mainly for planning 2 to 6 weeks into the future. Below 2 weeks, tasking breaks down into smaller increments than the overall availability and the work required to record this data in a tool is for us at least, not worth the time.

In another setting, we used Primavera's P3 product (it was a while ago) to create a schedule that was tasks, with assigned resources and resource workloads, but no logic between activities. Tasks were assigned priorities, and based on the priorities, P3 did a resource leveling run and laid out the earliest timeline for each task to be done. This worked fairly well, as it identified many tasks that could be started right away, but could not be finished for some time into the future because a critical resource was not available until much later. However, many other tasks that did not require the unavailable or constrained resources could be done earlier, and completed. Due to the number of resources and tasks, even managers were unable to process all the task constraints to determine the most efficient approach, but a scheduling tool could certainly do the task.

I hope these approaches ahve a kernel of something you can use.
Andreas

This sounds very realistic and almost fully in line with (in particular) my experience.

What is the task duration estimation approach in use in your organization? Do you have estimation accuracy issues?
Lluis,

You seem to be facing a problem of determining how to optimally allocate resources across a Program of Projects (the same as a small Portfolio of Projects). There are really lots of shorcuts that could lead you to the same starting point over and over again. Instead, I recommend using a normative approach to both Program/Portfolio Management and resource allocation.

First, determine what your overall Program/Portfolio goals are. Next, identify Project dependencies and gather data relating to risk, cost, and functional resource allocation across all Projects over a defined timeframe. Lastly, create an Excel model that lends itself to integer optimization. For more details, take a look at my website (www.ppvc.net) or contact me directly at rbayney@ppvc.net

A final note: All software programs have something of value to add to the solution to your problem but, without credible Project data relating to risk, cost, and time, your solution may be somewhat flawed.

Best of luck,

Rick.
Hi Lluis,

Problem with multiresource planning is not the planning itself I think, this can be done by advanced scheduling tools. Problem is, I think, that according to the standard matrix organisation there is a split between the projectmanagers and the functional managers, in your case the resourcemanager? Projectmanager plan their activities and in best case take a look at the available overall capacity, where the functional manager has to look into all activities together to plan the individual resources.

In a formal organisation the projectmanager does a request for resources in a certain period of time (eg I need engineering for 20 hours in the next month). This can be validated by some overall (portfolio) manager by looking at the overall utilization. The resource manager plans the individual.

The resource manager is then short term, the portfoliomanager is long term and the projectmanager´s concern is it´s own project.

There is a lot of liturature on this subject. A lot is theoretical and it depends on the size and budget of a company if this can be implemented. I work in small and medium sized (20-400 employees) manufacturing companies who do (multi projects) all the time and there is a big gap between theory and practice.
Hi Lluis,
I recently started at a web shop that is ramping up. Our HQ is on the other side of the continent so when it comes to sharing resources with them it could be a bit difficult. We use OpenAir for most of our project needs. However, no tool works better than personal communication, plans always change. I was wondering the same thing: how do other companies deal with this? From what i learned - they just dont. Sharing collocated resources is easy: i plan, book, assign and prioritize our production team because i am the only PM at this office. However, when it comes to intra office, things dont work so smooth and thats why i think other more established shops stopped doing it altogether.
I've also used Excel spreadsheets in the past to track resources. We're a small shop but we have a lot of ongoing project and support work and it's always a challenge to track resources and plan for upcoming work.

Are participants in this forum willing to share some of the Excel templates they use for resource tracking? I've tried to generate meaningful resource reports from Project without much luck and I'd be interested to find out how others track resource allocations. Thanks!

Doug
Hello Doug,
I also use Excel. On one sheet (resources_raw) I enter the resource name, project they work and allocation % for every week. Example: If Joe works on projects A and B for 50% of his availability each, this will translate into 2 rows. I then run a pivot table (function in Excel) with the resources in rows and the weeks in columns. To add 'spice' to it, I use conditional formatting to the pivot table to have red background for all cells < 80% (underallocated) and > 100% (overallocated). Have a look at the attached. Have fun! Pleasse contact me if you'd like more details.
Attachments:
Maria,

Thank you for your assistance. I have little experience with pivot tables, but this may be useful. Our resources are constantly in flux and we're always changing direction, so it's difficult for me to keep up with who is working on what. This should help!

Doug

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