Goal: Estimate resource needs

By now you have identified the project scope, including setting up the task list and estimating the task durations. You can use this information to make preliminary estimates, identify requirements, and start your staffing and procurement processes to acquire the resources that you need.

Tip: This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.

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number 1  Identify and estimate resource requirements     After you establish the scope and objectives and set up the task list in your project plan, you are ready to plan resources.

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The following process can help you identify the types and quantities of resources that you need to implement the project:

  • Review the project scope and task list      Identify the project's requirements for people, equipment, material resources, and cost resources by reviewing the project scope and task list.

  • Obtain historical resource and duration information     Collect information from earlier project files, from databases, and from people who worked on similar projects. Look especially for information about the types and numbers of resources that were used, as well as the actual duration of tasks.

  • Consider how the resource numbers affect durations     The number of resources assigned to a task often influences the duration of the task. In most cases, particularly for production tasks, two resources can complete a task in half the time it takes a single resource to do it. Adding more resources to tasks is called "crashing" the project and, taken to an extreme, can be a risky way to complete a project, because of the extra costs and inefficiencies that can result.

    In other instances, such as with design tasks, adding resources does not guarantee that the duration will decrease.

  • Consider how the resource capability and quality affect durations     The capabilities and experience of the resources assigned to a task can significantly influence the duration of the task. For example, a team member with five years of experience can typically be expected to complete a task in less time than a team member with two years of experience.

  • Review and refine the duration estimates     Use the information that you collect about this project and similar projects to refine your duration estimates for the project tasks. The accuracy of the estimate for resource requirements depends on the accuracy of your task duration estimates.

  • Identify the resource types and quantities needed     After you gather all of the information that you need, identify the types of resources (people, equipment, and materials) and the quantities needed for each resource. Also identify any specifics and assumptions that you use about each resource's job title, skill set, experience, capability, quality, or grade.

  • Use an expert to review your resource requirements     Use an experienced and knowledgeable team member to review the estimates for task duration and resource requirements.

  • Use a portfolio management tool     If you are using Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007, you can track projects and align resource needs through initiation and the approval process before you implement them. As you begin new projects and assign resources, you can assess them against the goals of the organization.

Number 2  Change a duration     Use the information that you collect about this project and similar projects to refine the task duration estimates. The accuracy of your duration estimates directly affects the accuracy of the resource requirements estimate.

Number 3  Develop proposed resources      At this point, you are ready to list the resource types and quantities. For human resources, you know the job titles, skill sets, and experience level. You know the type, brand, cost, and capacity of the equipment resources that are needed. You know the amounts of consumable materials that are required. You can enter and compile this resource information in Microsoft Office Project 2007 and submit it as part of your resource proposal.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Draft a proposed resource list if you want to record preliminary resource information. As resources are approved and obtained, you can replace the placeholder resource names in the proposed resource list with the actual resource names. You can even make preliminary task assignments and schedule resources.

  • Add generic resources to your project if you are using Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 and you want to add placeholder resources to the team. You can specify the skills that are needed for a task assignment, rather than specifying the actual person needed on the assignment.

  • Add non-enterprise resources to your project if the resources that you want are not enterprise resources. You can replace these resources with enterprise resources later if necessary.

  • Add resources to the enterprise resource pool if you are using Microsoft Office Project Web Access and you want to add resources who are a part of your organization's enterprise resources. These resources can then be scheduled most effectively across your organization's projects.

Number 4  Obtain approval for your estimated resources     Submit your resource proposal to stakeholders to obtain approval for the resource estimates.

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After you identify the types and quantities of people, equipment, material resources, and cost resources that you need to implement your project, you might need to obtain approval for staffing and procurement from stakeholders within your organization or from outside customers. If you are bidding for this project, the following process can help you set the requirements, assumptions, and budget for your proposal:

  • Develop the resource requirements statement      This statement specifies the types, qualities, and quantities of resources, as well as specifying the assumptions about the resources. The resource requirements statement can be a printout of the Resource Sheet view, along with resource notes, if appropriate.

  • Develop the staffing strategy      Taking into consideration your organization's policies and procedures for staffing, develop your strategy for using existing team members, borrowing resources from other departments, and recruiting new team members. Include your interview and selection criteria.

  • Develop the procurement strategy      Taking into consideration your organization's policies and procedures for procurement, describe your strategy for procuring outside goods or services, soliciting bids, and selecting the best contractors, equipment, and materials for the project.

  • Use an expert to review the resource proposal      Use an experienced and knowledgeable team member or colleague to review your resource proposal, along with any other information required by the staffing, procurement, or proposal process.

  • Submit the resource proposal for approval      Be available to provide further information to stakeholders or customers who are evaluating the proposal.

  • Use a portfolio management tool     If you are using Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007, you can track projects and align resource needs through initiation and the approval process before you implement them. As you begin new projects and assign resources, you can assess them against the goals of the organization.

Number 5  Update the resource estimates based on approval     After you obtain approval for using resources and receive new information about them, you can update your resource estimates.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Update the draft resource list if you are using the Resource Sheet view in Project 2007 to record preliminary resource information. As resources are approved and obtained, you can replace placeholder resource names with actual resource names. You can even make preliminary task assignments and schedule resources.

  • Add generic resources to your project if you are using Project Server 2007 and you want to add placeholder resources by specifying the skills that are needed for a task assignment, rather than the actual person needed.

  • Add non-enterprise resources to your project if the resources that you want are not enterprise resources. If necessary, you can replace these resources with enterprise resources later.

  • Add resources to the enterprise resource pool if you are using Microsoft Office Project Web Access and you want to add resources that are a part of your organization's enterprise resources.

  • Replace a resource assignment if you need to replace a resource in your resource list, to reflect changes made during the approval process.

  • Remove a resource assignment if you need to remove a resource in your resource list, to reflect changes made during the approval process.

Number 6  Add supporting information about a resource or project     Add more information in the form of notes, documents, and links to Web pages.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Add a note to a task, resource, or project to include a small amount of information directly in your project. Also, you can add a file from another program to a project note.

  • View and upload documents if you want to link supporting documents by using Project Server 2007.

  • Create a visual report if you want to use Microsoft Office Visio 2007 or Microsoft Office Excel 2007 to create reports that you to analyze and report on resource usage, at any phase of your project planning.

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