Efficient Resource Management using MS Project-2

-- Vivek Prakash

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In the last post I talked about managing human resources. Many projects specially in construction, infrastructure, manufacturing etc., project managers need to track the material and other costing factors as well.

MS Project has three types of resources. People, Material and Cost. We will discuss material and cost in this post. Material is the resource which get consumed when work is performed like cement, iron bars, printer paper, ink cartridges, deisel , CDs etc. Cost resource was introduced in 2007 version. The purpose was to keep a track on the cost that is incurred on project related activities but no direct work get performed on the project like a training required by a project, travelling due to project work, transportation, courier etc. Such activities are performed by resources outside of project scope which project need not to manage but funds are provide by project to perform the activity. Such activities are independent to one another and no one rate applies. For example costing of a training conducted for the project is based on training type and is not related to other trainings. Every training has different costing. Training does not perform any project work but improve the productivity of the people. Similarly every travel has different costing based on location, airline selected and time of booking. Cost resources are assigned to a related activity on the project and used to account all cost on the project.

For material resource, we need to decide on a unit of measure and rate of the material when we are adding a resource to the project. For example Reinforcement Steel, unit of measure could be Metric Ton (MT) and rate  …

…  could be Rs.40,000/- per MT.

When we are assigning material resource to an activity, we need to mention a fixed amount which is planed to be consumed. Estimating consumption for a small activity could be easy however if activity is of long duration, estimation may not be possible. In this case, a rate of consumption can be specified. Total amount and costing will be calculated based on duration of the activity

As no rate can be specified for a cost resource due to it incidental nature, we need to specify a planned cost at the time of assigning the cost resource to an activity. Cost resources can also be used to assign a budget to the project and tracking it during planning and execution.

MS Project being a project management tool does not maintain the inventory of material and considers that you have stocked enough material. Here the idea is not to alert project manager on low inventory which is the responsibility of inventory management system but giving a platform to project manager to plan how much material is required and when it is required so that PM can place order accordingly. Secondly track the consumption against plan which helps in better forecast and learning lesson on how good we are at estimating material for our activities. Tracking consumption and forecasting helps in ensuring that we have enough material at all the time to meet the project objectives. Measuring variance between consumption and plan helps tuning our estimating methodology, understanding what went wrong and providing feedback to future projects for better planning.

Resource management is very important part of any projects. Efficient utilization of the resources can helps us saving enormous money, more predictable delivery and  a satisfied customer. It is an important factor in employee motivation. A consistent efficient utilization of the resources prevent last minute pressure on the team, more productive employees, a better collaborative environment and respect to Project Manager.