Making sure that your people are fully utilized and working on the right tasks at the right time
Resource Management is a key feature in WorkBook and probably one of the reasons why many clients choose WorkBook. As a project driven company, your resources are the most valuable asset in the company. Making sure that your resources are fully utilized and working on the right tasks can be hard work. In a world where schedules often change, it can be a difficult job to ensure that all plans are up to date and everybody knows what is going on.
The Cost Estimate
Before you begin on the actual allocating of tasks to people, we recommend doing a cost estimate. The cost estimate ensures that all deliverables are considered and the client knows the budget frame and commits to it. The cost estimate can be sent off to the client as a formal price quote and the objective is to do a work breakdown structure on your project, before the resource planning even begins.
The cost estimate is normally built up using phases and activities. A phase can be something like “Research” or “Development”. The activity, also sometimes referred to as the task, is the actual work done with a reference to what type of resource would do the work. For example, in a Development phase, you can have a HTML coding task done by a Developer resource type. The cost estimate also includes the estimated number of hours multiplied by the hourly rate for each activity. If you expect any external costs, like licenses for a CMS system, freelancer work etc., then you should add this to the cost estimate as well. Once you have done this one time in WorkBook, you can save the price quote as a template and reuse it repeatedly.
Price quote example
Adjusting the layout before emailing it to the client:
Planning the Project
Once your client has accepted the price quote, you can start planning the project. In WorkBook, this is easily done by simply transferring the price quote phases and tasks to a suggested time plan. Being able to reuse data is, of course, a huge benefit and time saver. If that does not suit you, how about copying from another job or selecting a plan using a template? These are examples of some of the small, but important, everyday features that makes WorkBook stand out from its competition.
Once the phases and tasks are in the schedule, you can consider the start and end date for each task. You can use the built-in Gantt chart to drag n’ drop and expand each task.
Example on a Gantt chart
When you have, to your knowledge, the best time plan in the world, you can start to consider what resources you want to book to each task.
If you have an idea what employee it should be, then simply pick that one from the list. If not, then you might want to browse through a list of available employees, so you are able to check if they are able to do the task, considering their available capacity. In some companies, the task is allocated to a Group resource first and then a traffic manager will re-allocate the task to a real person afterwards.
Capacity, and how the task is allocated per day, is treated very differently in project management and resource management systems, and you should carefully consider your exact needs on this topic.
If you have a need for accurate and precise planning, even down to minutes and time of day, then WorkBook can be setup to accommodate this. If you, on the other hand, don’t care about any details and it’s more a matter of combining the resource with a task to generate a to-do list, then WorkBook can be setup to that as well.
The Capacity Profile
In WorkBook, every user has a capacity profile. The capacity profile tells the system how many basic hours the employee must submit per day – the ideal booking and flex hours. Now these terms might sound a bit strange to you, but you will soon learn the beauty of them.
So, let’s say you normally work from 9am-5pm. Each working day you have clients calling you, a colleague asking for help, or a boss that needs a meeting “NOW.” Well, if that’s how your day looks like, don’t worry. It’s the same for the rest of us as well. We call this unplanned work.
In WorkBook, this is already taken care of by the algorithm that distributes the task hours per day. Remember the Ideal booking from the Capacity profile? That’s the one making the difference.
The Ideal booking tells WorkBook how many hours it can use for planned work. Normally this is around 80% of a working day. So, let’s say the Basic hours are set to 8 and the Ideal hours are set to 6. The difference between these two figures is 2 hours which you can use for client phone calls and prep for the inevitable meeting with your boss (even though he doesn’t even know he wants a meeting yet).
Example of a capacity profile
If you have a task that has a duration of 3 days and 12 hours allocated, then this is how WorkBook will plan the task per day (if nothing else has been planned for):
In another example, if something has already been planned for on Monday for 3 hours:
If you want to manually overrule the suggested hour allocation you can do so.
Let’s kick in a new variable – calendar meetings. Let’s say you want to book an employee to a task on Friday, but you don’t know that he has already scheduled a client meeting in his calendar. The point is, if there’s no sync between the calendar and your resource management system, then you will have to look in two systems before you book, or even perhaps book the task in both systems. That doesn’t really work. Solution?
In that way the available capacity is always 100% accurate. You can even set the sync to go both ways.
Example of calendar sync to Microsoft Outlook, month view
The Scheduling Overviews
In WorkBook there are many different scheduling overviews that has been designed to give you overview on who’s doing what and when. Here’s a couple of examples:
Example of scheduling view “Weekly Schedule”
Example of scheduling view “Scheduling Matrix”
Example of scheduling view “Capacity Graph”
Vacation, Absence and Public Holidays
WorkBook keeps track of vacations, absences, and holidays for each user. This means that when a user is adding a vacation to the system, it can be transformed to a vacation request, and sent to the nearest manager for approval. What has this to do with resource scheduling? Well, everything! If you don’t know people’s vacation or holiday plans, then you don’t know if they are available or not.
The To-Do List
Each user has their own to-do list. On the to-do list, you get a clear and easy overview of the tasks assigned to you. On each task, you can get detailed information about the briefing, saved files, conversations and comments, and saved emails. In conclusion, it provides all of the details that you will need to complete the task. Once you are ready to start working, you can use the timer to start your time entry, or simply punch in the hours manually.
The collaboration feature allows you to start a conversation with other people involved in the project – even collaborating with clients through the client portal. This eliminates some of the many emails that go back and forth, and keeps important information in your system, as opposed to having it all in the email system.
When the project is in process, it is highly important to keep track of budget vs. actuals. WorkBook will keep you notified if something is about to go wrong, and if an employee needs more time than is assigned – it’s possible to request for more time. This is tracked and logged to the project log, so you know on what tasks to allocate more time on the next project.
- Accurate overview of projects, time and resources
- Reduce time used on updating spreadsheets and calendars
- Improve employee utilization
- Resource forecasting
- Vacation, holidays, and absence views
- Clear and accurate budget vs. actuals
- Precise time sheet entries against the tasks allocated
- Notification if something is about to go wrong
- Easy, yet feature rich interface