Using SharePoint for Resource Management

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+++ How SharePoint Can Support the Tactical Resource Coordination Between Project and Line Managers +++ With Practical Examples and a Valuable Tool for Both Roles +++

By Johann Strasser                                                                                                              Read article in German

Tactical resource planning is a huge challenge in project management. Of course, the requirements for the optimal tool support are many.

This article considers a tool based on Microsoft SharePoint: TPG TeamManager.

This SharePoint App was conceived specially for the requirements of team leaders. In this article, we introduce you to the new possibilities and advantages this tool provides for team leaders and project managers.

Please note: By “tactical resource management” or “planning” we mean the coordination between project and line managers. This depends on the company’s form or organization (matrix or line). The goal is to meet the requirements for resources with the necessary skills for projects in a timely manner using staff from the line. This tends to be the team leaders’ task.

Bridging the Gap Between Project Managers and Team Leaders

The SharePoint App TPG TeamManager supports the ongoing planning and coordination process between project managers and team leaders in a matrix organization in a simple and efficient way.

Both roles base their planning on the same data, but for their own requirements and from different perspectives.

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For team leaders, the tool facilitates the complete planning of a team’s resources. Besides commitments in response to requests from the projects, team leaders also administer all activities outside projects. These are:

  • absences
  • general operations
  • individual operations

As a team leader, you analyze the status of:

  • resource utilization
  • commitments for requested projects

This happens in a planning table with configurable traffic light colors. You can edit the contents straight away, too. In a single view, you can see all activities and states of your resources. This makes identifying and resolving resource conflicts considerably easier.

As a project manager working in Microsoft Project, you work differently. In your own user interface, you retrieve the committed resource information from the team leaders. After that, you modify your project plans accordingly.

Interested in the feature Resource Engagements in MS Project 2016? Read article now.

The advantage of this approach is obvious. As a project manager, you have an increased dependability. After all, you plan with resources that are actually available. For the commitment of the team leader was based on the full consideration of the resources’ activities.

Process of Resource Planning Between Project and Line Managers

The cycle of resource planning between project managers and team leaders should follow a timed process. This helps to ensure the currency of planning and hence the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Tactical Resource Planning with SharePoint 1

Figure 1: Cycle of resource planning between project managers and team leaders

Read about the Challenges of Tactical Resource Planning in this article.

And here is how the coordination should work:

  • The capacities of the resources per team can be loaded from the Project Server’s resource pool.
  • Team leaders enter absences and operations or import them from other sources.
  • Based on this, the actual project availability of the resources is calculated. Which is the essential step towards improving planning quality.
  • Project Server or Project Online can load the project requests from the currently published plans of the project managers. This does not require entering any additional planning data in Microsoft Project.
  • If your project managers are not using Microsoft Project there are other ways:
    – You can enter their requests manually
    – You can import them from other PM tools via text files

Structure of the Planning Table

In TPG TeamManager, there is one plan per team. On starting the app, this opens automatically. In one table, you can see all resources, absences, operations and projects in a logical order. And you can even edit them within the same table.

Learn about the Project Management Trends for 2019 – Read article now.

In the first line, you can read off the utilization status of the entire team via traffic light colors. Below, you can see:

  • the total capacity of the team
  • the sums of the absences and operations
  • the resulting remaining project availability
  • the total status of the project commitments
  • the individual resources of the team with their utilization status as a traffic light
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Figure 2: Utilization status of the team, the resources and the projects in one table

The abundance of information may seem a little overwhelming at the start. But the view shows you both the resource utilization and the project commitments at a glance using different colors to differentiate between different cases.

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ONE view provides you as a team leader with the two perspectives you require. It enables you to make purposeful statements about possible and required assignments and to replan directly.

You can create a convenient overview for yourself by hiding rows. Thus, you keep things in view and work efficiently even with a large table.

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Figure 3: Filter options for plan rows to get a better overview

And this is how you get your data into the tool:

  • Capacities and project requests are loaded from Microsoft Project or from text files. Or they are entered manually.
  • Absences and operations you can enter manually, select from lists, or import from text files.
  • Absences and general operations are created as rows at team level and automatically assigned to all resources. The entry of hours or days occurs at resource level. The aggregation of their work values happens at team level.
  • Individual operations are maintained as rows and values under the resources. They are aggregated upwards at team level. In this process, identical individual activities of different resources are consolidated into one row.
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Figure 4: Table with general and individual operations

For the projects, three rows are maintained:

  • the requests loaded from Microsoft Project Server or Project Online
  • the commitments entered by the team leader
  • the resulting color-coded status
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Figure 5: Project status calculated from requests and commitments of resources

Below the resources, you will find the same structure as at team level showing the individual data of the resources.

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Figure 6: Resource status and all activities combined, i.e. absences, operations and projects

We will refrain from further technical notes on the necessary SharePoint environment and the population with data from tools such as Project Server / Project Online at this point. Please contact us, if you would like to know more about this:

www.theprojectgroup.com/en/contact

Hierarchical Team Structures

Depending on the company structure, you can group teams into higher-level teams or departments. In such a case, only the plan headers, i.e. the sums of the teams, will be imported but not the individual resources of the subordinate teams.

The plan header includes the team status, the sums of the capacities, absences, operations and projects, but not individual resources.

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Figure 7: Depiction of hierarchical team structures

By clicking on an imported team, you open its plan in a new browser window in read-only mode. This window will only ever show the published data.

Interested in strategic resource planning or capacity planning? Read article now.

If you want to edit the original data, you will have to open the plan of the respective team from its team site. For this, you will need the corresponding access privileges. Thus, all access privileges are maintained across hierarchies.

Committing Resources to Projects and Conflict Resolution

In the view “Matrix”, resources and projects of the team are shown in a contingency table. The rows and columns can be reversed.

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Figure 8: Assigning projects and resources in the Matrix view

By adding or removing the ticks in the checkboxes, you create and remove assignments of projects to resources. A dark background indicates the existence of commitments.

You enter the work values for the project commitments in the “Plan” view along the timeline. As a team leader, this will show you how much actual remaining availability there is. This helps you to protect your team members from overload.

An example: In the example below, Project A and Project B were automatically committed fully using the option “Auto”. The replanning is not yet complete.

One position is marked in orange and demonstrates need for action (Sabrina in June). A possible solution could be to move Sabrina’s vacation to July. Another would be to remove the “Auto” option for Project A or Project B and move parts of the project to July. This is easy to see in the table.

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Figure 9: Overview of the complete planning for one resource to resolve a conflict

Graphical Overview of the Resource Utilization

The view “Reports” shows two diagrams with the utilization of the resources in bars and their capacity as a line. On the left, you see the utilization stacked by resource. On the right, you see the identical utilization stacked by project.

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Figure 10: Resources and projects in one view – easy to read and filter

If you select the projects and resources, both charts change simultaneously. You can easily adapt the standard colors of bars and lines to fit your needs.

And at the end you can export all data. This makes it possible to create further evaluations in Excel, Power BI or via a database with Reporting Services or other tools.

Conclusion – Using SharePoint for Resource Management

This article has introduced you to the benefits of resource management with SharePoint. The app TPG TeamManager provides your project managers and team leaders with a tool for balanced resource planning. Both sides can work in a tool created for their role and have full transparency. But the responsibilities and access privileges to the planning data remain intact.

An easy-to-handle tool such as TPG TeamManager allows both small and large companies to obtain a complete resource overview of all teams and departments and operate it on an ongoing basis. And that within a matter of days or weeks. You can also read this blog post to find out more about this.

With such a tool, you arrive at a very good overview of the company-wide resource utilization quickly. And this is independent of the dissemination of a PM tool. After all, team leaders tend to know themselves to which extent their team members are working on what projects. And, once detailed project planning by the project manager has been introduced, team leaders can still improve the quality of resource planning step by step with the tool.

For Decision-Makers:

The most important difference between tactical resource management in Microsoft Project 2016 and in TPG TeamManager

  • The function Resource Engagements in Microsoft Project 2016 forces your project managers to maintain the requirements of the resources in parallel to project planning. This is a considerable extra effort and therefore an impediment to acceptance.
  • TPG TeamManager allows your team leaders to import the project requests from project planning without extra effort. In addition, they can also plan all the team’s internal activities. In a comfortable way, they create a plan basis on which they can make valid project commitments.

TPG TeamManager is a SharePoint App. The tool can be used in combination with Microsoft Project Server 2013, 2016 as well as Project Online.

With this combination, you provide optimal support for the coordination process between project and line management. This increases the prospect of success for your projects.

Your team leaders can use the app for team planning but also as a stand-alone. It is possible to import data from other systems. Find out more at www.theprojectgroup.com/teammanager.

Do you think a SharePoint app like TPG TeamManager would resolve some of the problems you encounter in your day-to-day operations? Can you see it improving the coordination between project and line managers? Please leave a comment below.

Final tip: Subscribe to the TPG Blog Newsletter now and never miss another blog post.

 

 

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