A common business challenge for our clients is the ability to access and organize quantifiable data so they can proactively manage the resource demands for likely contract awards and existing projects. The problem is they lack the ability to gather credible source data from the proposal process and the project control system to provide a useful corporate wide or business unit view of resource requirements.
The Right Resources at the Right Time
Identifying and obtaining the right mix of labor resources at the right time for a portfolio of projects is critical for project success. It also impacts a company’s profit margins. Management needs useful predictive measures for determining the likelihood of winning a contract along with a credible forecast of staffing needs for new and existing projects. The objective is to avoid insufficient or excessive staffing conditions that cost money.
With timely and reliable information, management can prevent situations where they need to hire expensive outside resources for a missing critical skill or they incur the cost of a “standing army” when the staffing plan doesn’t align with the remaining work tasks. They also need to organize the right set of resources for startup activities when a new contract is awarded. Is it possible to move resources from a project that is winding down to a new project that is ramping up? Will it be necessary for projects to share critical resources? There is often a performance penalty when key resources are spread too thin. Another risk is a single point of failure when a critical resource is unavailable.
Staffing plans must be realistic and align with the planned sequence of work tasks. For example, at contract award for a large complex project, it often takes months to ramp up for the work effort and hire resources. For an existing project, the staffing plan needs to accurately forecast the resources needed to complete the remaining work.
Creating realistic staffing plans is often a function of following scheduling best practices. With resource loaded activities, a proposal manager or project manager can produce a schedule driven time phased cost estimate or budget plan. Using schedule status from the current schedule, the project manager can measure performance and produce a schedule driven estimate to complete. The result? Staffing plans that accurately reflect what resources are required when.
How Can the Right Software Tools Help?
If you are running into similar challenges, effective proposal writing and project cost management software, combined with the right processes, can make a difference. Imagine if you could use estimate and cost management software to:
- Establish and maintain a central database of time phased cost data that includes the proposal cost estimate and the complete set of project control data – budget, earned value, actual costs, estimated actuals, and estimate to complete.
- Consistently produce data driven resource requirement data views, metrics, and reports across business units or company-wide. This could also include financial and other business performance metrics for project portfolio analysis.
You can do this with ProjStream’s basis of estimate and cost management tools, BOEMax and MaxTeam. How does this work?
- Start with data driven basis of estimates for your proposal submissions in BOEMax. This includes creating schedule driven cost estimates in the bidding software and leveraging historical data to create more accurate staffing profiles for performing the work. When you are able to routinely produce quality basis of estimates with verifiable and fact-based information, it is easier for your customer to evaluate your proposal. You stand out from your competitors and increase the probability of winning the contract.
- Select proposals in the pipeline that you have a high probability of winning to include in the enterprise resource requirement data views. This helps to forecast what resources are required when based on the likely timing for the contract award. The benefit? Corporate resource managers have useful information to help them plan ahead to hire the right people or transition existing personnel from one project to the next. This increases their ability to predict resource capacity and demand. It also helps resource managers work with employees to enhance their skill sets and reduce attrition rates.
- Immediately following contract award, the project control team can leverage the proposal cost estimate data in the estimate software to quickly create the time phased budget plan. They simply copy the data from BOEMax to the cost management software, MaxTeam. They have the complete set of data to rapidly transition from the project startup/planning phase to the execution phase. With the data structures, calendar, rates, resource structure, resource loaded schedule activities, time phased data, and basis of estimate documentation already in place, they can update the content to match the contract statement of work and period of performance. The goal is to create a time phased budget plan that accurately models how the work will be performed and what resources are required when. The benefit? The project manager can quickly produce a realistic staffing plan and work with the resource managers to secure resources, so they have confidence key resources will be available when they need them.
- As work progresses on the project, the project manager routinely updates the staffing plan to reflect the current schedule and estimate to complete the remaining work. This helps the project manager and resource managers to quickly mitigate staffing shortages or excesses over the life of the project. They can also plan when to do the work changes and resource requirements change such as switching from an employee to an external resource or deciding to buy a component instead of making it in-house.
Leveraging the Resource Requirement Data
When looking in basis of estimate and project cost management software, how does a combined view of resource requirements for likely contract awards and existing projects across a portfolio of projects make a difference? It can help you and your resource managers:
- Identify potential unrealistic staffing profiles. This is often easy to spot when tasks are front loaded and you see staffing peaks or drop-offs. Other indicators: the time phased cost data does not align with the schedule tasks.
- Identify resources critical to successful project planning or execution that are assigned to multiple projects for the same time frame. With the ability to identify named resource over allocations and projects they are assigned to, resource managers can mitigate the situation. They can work with the project managers to adjust the resource assignments or timing, or identify other alternatives such as temporarily hiring outside resources.
- Create a more realistic picture of future resource demands and timing based on predictive models or other analysis techniques for determining the probability of winning a proposal.
- Create what-if scenarios to determine whether negotiating a different contract start date with a customer helps to mitigate resource capacity and demand constraints. It is in the best interest of everyone to ensure critical resources are available to a project.
- Combine revenue projection data with the resource capacity and demand data. This provides insight into business performance and the resource management strategy. What project characteristics such as scope of work, contract type, risk, or other factors are potentially impacting the ability to adequately manage the resource requirements?
- Identify staffing trends such as an increase in attrition rates or the use staff augmentation services. Why has turnover increased? Was the increase in outside services a conscious business decision or is there another root cause for this? This can help you make adjustments in your resource management strategy.
Interested in learning more about our bidding and cost control software products, BOEMax and MaxTeam, and how they can help you manage your resource requirements from new business development to project closeout? Give us a call today or schedule a software demo.