RESOURCE MANAGEMENT - LOADING & LEVELING
In a previous hub, we calculated slacks or floats. If an activity has a slack, its start can be delayed. For managing a project, there are various activities which have to be performed in some order. This was explained in Net-Working Techniques. There were some activities which were considered critical and hence cannot be postponed or delayed. While some other, non-critical activities, can be slipped or postponed within a slack-time. So far we have been discussing planning. The next phase would be implementing which is covered by Resource-Management. This is subject matter of this paper.
What is a resource?
Resource is a generic word and is used in various ways. For our discussion, we would restrict it to 4Ms or Man, Machine, Material and Money.
What is management?
Once again, Management is a generic word. To simplify, it is a process of planning, implementing and controlling the resources to achieve desired objectives.
What is resource management?
Resource Management is using resources efficiently and effectively.
While we talk of efficiency, we have some sort of input: output ratio in our mind. Supposing in yarn making, a 10% waste is normal. If we have 100 kg of cotton, we can produce 90 kg of yarn, 10 kg being the normal waste. If we can produce 91 kg of yarn from 100 kg of cotton, we would be considered efficient for having reduced the wastage to 9%. Also, we would be considered efficient, if we use only 99 kg of cotton for producing 90kg of yarn.
To sum up, efficiency is having more output for the same input or less input for the same output. Then what is effectiveness? It is acceptability, usefulness or suitability from the users or market point of view. An overhead bridge may be constructed most economically and in record time. But it may not be effective, if few people make its use because they find an alternate route much convenient.
In my class, I use multimedia which is much better or efficient than white board. But with frequent power interruptions, I find white board more effective. Let us take another example. A student gets high marks because of hard work. But when he goes to find a job, he is frustrated to find that what he had learned is not relevant to present job requirement. Remember Bill Gate. He was a drop-out butbecame very effective because whatever he learned he applied wisely.
What are Resource Management Techniques?
When we come to techniques, we would once again restrict ourselves to: Resource Loading and Resource Leveling as follows:
WHAT IS RESOURCE LOADING?
While making a budget, we estimated “Cost & Quantity” of each resource. If we want to add a room to our present setup in the university, we estimate how much money, men, materials and machines would be required. We would further estimate cost of furniture and gadgets for the room such as white-board, multimedia, clock, air-conditioners and tube- lights.
“Resource Loading” is assigning resources to activities. It is the same as budget but broken down in terms of activities like (a) get approval of building extension, (b) lay foundations, (c) build super-structure, (d) put on a roof, (e) plaster the walls and (g) complete finishing. The money, men, materials and machines, as given in the budget, would be re-distributed in terms of activities.
To sum up, “Resource Loading” is the process of assigning resources for each and every activity required for the project.
WHAT IS RESOURCE LEVELING?
Resource leveling is a sort of adjustment. If resources are provided as per schedule, there would be no need for resource leveling. But when there is a mismatch between what is required and what is made available, we need to give priority to some activities, postpone some activities or do the job in small lots. The ultimate objective would be to complete the project within the same cost and time constraints. For this purpose, we slip or split the activities within margin or slacks available. Let us first take an example of Slipping as given below:
Just a cursory glance on the question would reveal that activity B has five days and needs two workers each day. Before B finishes, C & D would also start and labor requirements would exceed the availability. So we need some re-scheduling. Before, we can attempt it, we need to find out which activities are critical and which are not. For this purpose, we would draw a Gantt Chart as follows:
We observe that B & E activities are on the critical path. Moving them would increase the total duration beyond seven days. We mark them red. We can now insert labor and get the following picture:
It is evident that on third day, we would experience shortage of two workers while on the last day, two workers would be surplus. If we can make necessary adjustment, we would level or smooth out the excesses and shortages.
Obviously, activities B & E cannot be moved. Moving A would not solve the problem as its shift would affect start of linked activities C & D. Even if there was no such linkage, moving A would not make any difference. This leaves C & D. We can move C for two days as there is free float for the same period. But it would result in increase of labor requirement for the subsequent period. So moving D for one day is cure-all. The revised Gantt Chart would appear as follows:
What is Slipping and Splitting?
In slipping, an activity is moved to another day. In other words, it is postponed or skipped. In splitting, an activity would be broken into small parts. If there is a seminar for three days, it can only be slipped to some other dates but would be carried out for three days in a row. If want to transport say twenty packages to a far-off place, we can transport them in any manners. While originally, these packages were to be transported on the same day, we can arrange their transportation in two or three or four lots depending upon the slack or cushion available.
A QUESTION ON SPLITTING?
The following chart shows: (i) Resource Loading, (ii) Critical Activities and (iii) Slack available against non-critical activities.
We can easily split activities U & X within the available slack as would be observed from the following:
A chicken feed?
So far examples have been kept simple to make it easy to grasp the subject. In real life, there are not 5 to 6 activities but in hundreds. For the sake of convenience, a project is divided into sub-projects and even further into tasks. Even than, things do no get as simple as that.
Try to solve the following question on your own and then consult the solution. I am sure it would NOT be a chicken feed this time.
A tricky question
Both resource loading and leveling charts are given below: It would be observed that in one case the an activity had to be adjusted within its Total Float (Late Finish - Early Start - Duration). Please note there can many solution not just one. The aim is to compelete the project within the given time through a logical adjustment.