So your role as resource manager means that not only are you responsible for assigning and overseeing the work that the project resources are performing on the project, you’re also responsible for forecasting their effort, managing how their work is affecting the project budget, and looking closely at when to add and remove resources from the project.
There are probably as many was to perform this effort as there are project managers in the universe and one of those may be simply using the most popular project management software on the market – Microsoft Project. With it you can input resources, assign dollar amounts to their time, and track resource usage and expenditures. However, you must also consider your target audience when considering how to manage these things and how you’ll be reporting the results and updates.
In my 20+ years of project management oversight, I’ve found that customers and executive management are both fairly disinterested in reviewing gantt charts and output reports from MS Project. They want cold hard facts in simple terms that they can wrap their heads and arms around. And that’s often not what comes out of MS Project. So that I’m not re-inventing the wheel for every resource and budget forecasting need on each project, I usually focus on using an Excel spreadsheet for this effort to simplify both my work and the output that goes to the customer and management.
The Project Manager must be on top of the project resource plan and budget throughout the engagement. This plan won’t keep itself in line – there are too many people charging time to the project and too many activities going on at once on leave resource and budget management to chance.
It is critical that the actual hours charged to the project by the project team be reviewed by the Project Manager on a weekly basis. If it is the project manager’s responsibility in your organization to approve project time on a weekly basis, then capturing time charged to the project will be easy – it’s already been provided. However, if that is not the case, then the project manager is going to need to utilize connections in the accounting department to get weekly project charges if they want to stay on top of the project resource plan as the engagement is in progress.
The figure below is from one of my project budgeting and forecasting worksheets and shows a typical project in progress. At the top is the overall budget for the project or project phase as well as any change order dollars that have been added to that figure. The heart of the spreadsheet shows the resource type across the top and the weekly hours spent (bold) and forecasted (non-bold) and the accompanying overall project budget status to the far right. As you can see in this example, this particular project or stage is forecasted to complete at $37,100 over budget with three weeks of effort remaining.
The key as a Project Manager is to get detailed reports from your team and from Accounting on a weekly basis and to be adjusting and reforecasting the budget and the resources on a weekly basis. It is also just as critical that you get this report out to your team and to the customer so that everyone is an active participant in the resource and budget management process.
Project resource and budget management go hand in hand and must be a weekly activity. If you let it go to monthly, the project budget can get out of control – and you may soon realize that you don’t have enough committed time for a resource on the project with a critical project task looming ahead. Stay on top of it.
As the project manager, be sure to distribute it regularly to your team members and make it a discussion point on a weekly team call so they understand that you are watching the budget and are aware of what time is being charge to the project by each individual. Project team members are more accurate with their project time charging when they know that the project manager is watching it carefully and they will feel more accountable for the effort they charge to the project making the overall practice of resource and budget management much easier for the project manager to oversee.