Chapter 7 – Scheduling Resources and Budgets

7.18. Chapter Summary

Scheduling includes all the resources (people, materials, equipment).  It all needs to come together at the right time and in the right place. Project Managers use two classifications for scheduling:  Time-constrained resource:  where there is an imposed time frame i.e. – a wedding; and Resource-constrained resource: where the people, equipment or materials may not be available when needed i.e. – a person is sick from work and cannot complete the tasks. When there are constraints, they cause delays, and in turn, cost money.  Therefore, pushing up the costs or time to complete the project.

Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) outline the deliverables involved in the project.  It is part of the scope statement.  It is one of the first steps in organizing and scheduling. As the project is broken down into sub-deliverables, it becomes clearer what the tasks are for the project.  The smallest breakdown is called the work package.  They are small assignable units of work that are performed to create the deliverable. The work packages can be broken down further into activities.  Activities are defined as tasks. Often, the WBS is coded (numbered).  Each deliverable is assigned a number for ease in understanding, referencing, and filtering. This is often called the WBS Dictionary (or Activity List.)

Top-down estimations are at the macro level to calculate resources for the project.  Bottom-up estimations are at the micro level and provide detailed information from the work packages. Gantt Charts are bar charts that illustrate a visual project schedule.  They are easy to read and often used in scheduling activities. Network Diagrams are used to show a visual of the interrelationships of project activities. Resource estimating is used to assign resources to each activity in the activity list, regardless of which process is used.

Human Resources can play an important role in supporting, with expertise in scheduling. They can help with enhancing the team’s ability to contribute to the project, while fostering individual growth and accomplishment. They can also provide training in project planning and scheduling processes. Scheduling is reflecting in performance, and Human Resources can monitor progress on the schedules by aligning it with the Performance Plans.

Budgets for projects are important.  It is important to know and complete budgets that include direct costs, indirect costs, overhead costs, and general administrative costs, and is dependent on the contract type (fixed or cost-plus).  Project Managers use various tools for estimating that include cost rates, vendor bid analysis, reserve analysis and cost of quality.

A project budget is a combination of all the activities’ milestones and tasks in the project plan, and the costs that project must accomplish. Simply stated, it is the money needed to complete the project. Creating a budget consists of breaking the project into small tasks, estimating each task, adding the estimates together, adding in contingencies/taxes/other costs; and seeking approval. Contingency funds are often used for unanticipated costs. Once approved, a budget needs to manage and monitored by regularly comparing the amount spent and reporting budget progress.