Planning and Scheduling: Assigning Resources


Quick Summary
This guideline focuses on identifying resources needed for each item in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Includes a worksheet for tracking assignments or assignment data before entering scheduling information into another tool. Second in a series—see the Related Templates below for the others.


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What this is

Second in a series of guidelines for project plan and schedule development. This step focuses on identifying resources needed for each item in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The file also contains a table that can be used to track the assignment of project work to an individual owner for smaller projects, or to capture resource assignment data on any project before entering scheduling information into another tool.


Why it's useful

Resource assignment and balancing among conflicting demands is a core project management responsibility. As work is defined and resources are identified and assigned, it is important to record the results so that all impacted parties are aware. Formalizing resource assignments and making these commitments visible helps to ensure:

  • Timely staffing of the critical, high-leverage period of project initiation and ramp-up
  • Consideration of what specific skills and experience are needed when assigning resources to tasks
  • Commitment by team members' functional managers to their people's specific involvement
  • Avoidance of down-stream resource conflicts with other projects

NOTE: The first-pass assignment of resources does not necessarily constitute a resource commitment. Assignments must be reviewed with functional managers and balanced against the needs of other projects before they are considered committed. But the first pass is still valuable to give the project manager and functional managers a sense of what resource types, and specific people, will be required for different activities in the project.


How to use it

Use a format such as the table at the end of this file to identify resources for items in the Work Breakdown Structure your team has started. The table should be marked "draft" until the plan and schedule development activity is complete. Resource assignments are not true commitments until the full schedule has been developed, tradeoffs made, and the plan optimized among scope, schedule, and cost/resources. You can use this table in several ways:

  • Use it to contain the schedule information for a small project.
  • Use it as a worksheet for early drafting of your WBS tasks, task resource assignments, first work estimates, etc. in a word processor or spreadsheet before moving into a scheduling tool.
  • Capture the data called for by the worksheet fields straight into the corresponding views or entry tables in a project management tool, such as Microsoft Project, i.e., creating the WBS activity list, then assigning resources to all the work right in the tool.

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    Related Templates
    Planning and Scheduling: Task Identification and Work Breakdown
    Guidelines for developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to identify all the activities required to complete a project, with examples. First in a series.

    Planning and Scheduling: Identifying Dependencies
    How to identify and capture dependencies in a work breakdown structure (WBS). Third in a series

    Planning and Scheduling: Estimating Work and Costs
    Guidelines on estimating effort, duration, and costs for items in the work breakdown structure (WBS). Fourth in a series

    Planning and Scheduling: Project Schedule and Critical Path
    Guidelines on scheduling activities to perform on WBS tasks in order to arrive at an integrated schedule in calendar time. Fifth in a series.

    Planning and Scheduling: Make Trade-offs and Optimize
    Guidelines for making trade-offs and optimizing the first-pass base schedule, to address conflicts among the scope, time, and resources/costs. Sixth in a series.

    Planning and Scheduling: Create Project Plan Document
    Guidelines for creating a project plan document providing project essentials like objectives, justification, and how the objectives are to be achieved, and describing how the project will be managed. Seventh in a series.



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