Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Resource Requirements and Project Activities

How many people does it take to install a computer network, write a user's manual, or analyze a customer's needs? What equipment is needed to deliver a training session? These questions may not be pertinent to every project, but it's important for you to know what physical resources it will take to complete any activity related to your project.

Physical resources can include any or all of the resources listed below, depending on the nature of the project.
  • People. This is the most important resource of all. It is also the most diverse resource the manager has to deal with. People come with a wide variety of skills. The manager's job is to match the possible skill sets with the project tasks.
  • Facilities. Facilities are where the project activities will be performed. The project manager has to take into account what kind and how many of these facilities are required. Availability of facilities can have a big impact on the project schedule and has to be taken into account.
  • Equipment. Specialized equipment may be needed for some projects. This equipment may have to be bought, rented, borrowed, or built. The project manager has to make sure that the equipment will be available according to plan.
  • Materials. If a project produces anything tangible, the raw materials to produce the product need to be managed. Materials have to be managed to ensure they are available when needed.
Project managers should develop a list of all the resources needed to complete a project. This list is known as "resource requirements." Resource requirements are descriptions of the types of resources required and quantities needed for each element of the work breakdown structure and are important inputs to activity duration estimating.
Resource capabilities are another input you should consider when estimating activity duration. Resource capabilities can have a direct effect on an activity's duration. For example, a person with more experience and skills will complete a job faster than someone who is unskilled.

The capacity of the materials used for a project also will affect an activity's duration. For example, a machine that runs at only 50 percent capacity will take twice as long to complete the activity as a machine that runs at full capacity.

Resource capabilities not only affect the duration of an activity, but they can also affect the resource requirements. For example, if workers are unskilled, more of them will be needed to complete a project on time. If workers have more experience, fewer people will be needed.

As a project manager, you should look at all aspects of a project's resources when estimating activity duration. Remember, resource capabilities can have a far-reaching effect on the duration of a project activity.

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