Skip to main content
PDWare Customer Success Center

Effort Forecasting

This article explores Effort Forecasting in ResourceFirst.

Overview

Edit section

The Forecast tab shows the effort forecast at a resource, team, and/or skill level for each project. Data is shown within the  Resource and Project OBS node filter parameters selected via the Funnel icon in the upper right icon tray.

Resource Managers should ideally “own” the data on the Effort Forecast table, while Project Managers collaborate with Resource Managers and can request additions/updates to project forecasts. Some organizations choose to allow project managers to update the effort forecast directly and let the resource managers check the forecast for their resources regularly.

Defining “Demand”: Basic Definitions

An assignment is an association between a resource, team, or skill and a given project.  An assignment appears as a row on the Forecasts sheet.

The Forecasts sheet is where the resource manager enters the effort forecast (i.e., the amount of time per period a resource is required for work on a project). If entering data in units of effort (Full Time Equivalent or FTE), 1.00 indicates one FTE/period. Demand and supply (capacity) can also be entered in hours.

Resource and skill effort forecasts can be entered directly on the Forecast tab. Team forecasts are shown, but can only be updated via the Teams tab. See Managing Teams for more details. 

An effort forecast represents "Demand." This is compared with Capacity on the Utilization tab to determine utilization. 

The portion of the requested demand that can be met with available resource time is considered "Allocated." The remainder that cannot be met within the assigned resource's availability is considered "Shortfall."

Resource Planning Best Practices

Planning

When you are scoping the resource requirements for a new project or defining the requirements for an upcoming phase of an on-going project, the demand should reflect the needs of the project, even if that need creates overloading of resources.

The goal is to determine: Given the scope of the project and its target schedule, how much effort is required from each resource in each time period? At this point the priority of the project is usually not defined.

Forecast Baseline

After the scoping has been done (whether for a new project or new phases of an existing project), the project team and functional resource managers work through portfolio achievability analysis to trade off timing, scope, and resources until agreement is reached. At that point the resource baseline is set equal to the agreed upon demand (in addition to schedule and scope baselines).

Execution

After the baseline is set, effort forecast values for resources on the baseline project reflect the resource manager's prediction of how resources will be deployed. This can be thought of as the current staffing plan which may vary from the baseline (but usually should not vary widely without changes to scope or schedule).

Managing Overallocation: Interpreting the Color Codes

On the Forecast tab, yellow/orange/red shows the assignments that are overallocated, if all assignments are addressed in priority order with the available capacity of the resource/skill.  Yellow means a small amount of the assignment cannot be filled. Orange means a moderate amount of the assignment can't be filled. Red means a large amount of the assignment can't be filled. Skill assignments also show in red until they are filled with a named resources.

The color thresholds are set by the administrator for all users. See Server Settings and General Defaults for how to change the thresholds.

NOTE: Skill assignments generally appear in RED because they need to be filled. However, if you have Optimization turned on (with the option: Use Availability for Skill Assignments), you will see the Yellow/Orange/Red colors for skill assignments based on the degree to which unused capacity with that skill is able to satisfy the demand.

Resources_Forecast.JPG

Note in particular the actions possible using the buttons at upper left.

Resources_Forecast_Upper_Left.JPG

Editing Assignments

To edit an assignment, select the assignment row, and click on the cell you want to edit.

You can edit multiple records, before saving your changes to the database. Each edited field will have a small red marker on it to indicate a change.

Responding to Requests for Resources

As a Resource Manager, you will have a queue of pending Requests (almost always from project managers) that you should regularly address. To do so, click on the Requests tab in the Resources center.  

For details on the request process and how to respond to requests, see the article Understanding the Resource Request Process.

Recalculating the Forecast

The PDWare allocation algorithm that creates the colors on the views is a powerful process that runs in the background upon clicking the Save button.  You can also click the Calculate Allocations button to force the process the run on your screen to make sure your view is up to date:

Resources_Calculate_Button.JPG

Reasons why you may want to click the Calculate button are as follows: 

  1. After a save, if the modified records did not update their colors.
  2. The colors do not look up to date and you want to verify they are correct.

Adding a New Assignment

To add a Resource or Skill assignment, click the “Add” button (plus sign) or the dropdown arrow and select either Resource Assignment or Skill Assignment.

Add Resource Assignment

When Add Resource Assignment is selected, a dialog box opens to specify the Project, Required Skill (optional) and Resource.  Wildcard searching is possible in each field.

After entering a portion of the desired field value (e.g., “Bar…” project below), items matching the search value will be displayed.  Select the desired item by clicking on it.

Then, go to the next field.  In this case, the Required Skill is being defaulted and will be populated in the Assignment from the Primary Skill of the Resource selected.  After entering a portion of the resource’s name (or a “*” as wildcard),  click the search icon  to show the list of matching resources.

After all needed fields have been populated, click Add to insert the assignment into the Forecast sheet.

Note: If the required skill is filled in, the check in the “Has Skill” button will cause only those resources with that skill to appear as candidates.  The “Include Assigned”, when checked, will allow resources already assigned to that project to appear.

Next, enter the forecast values for each interval.  Note: The inserted assignment and its forecast values will not be saved to the database until the Save button is clicked.

Add Skill Assignment

When Add Skill Assignment is selected, a dialog box opens to specify the Project, Resource OBS and Required Skill.  All three fields are required.  Wildcard searching is possible in each field.

The Resource OBS node specifies which organization the skill need is normally expected to be filled by.

After entering a portion of the desired field value (e.g., “…Devel…” Resource OBS node below), items matching the search value will be displayed.  Select the desired item by clicking on it.

Then, go to the Skill field and search for/select the item(s) desired.

Select the skill(s) desired, and click Add to insert the assignment into the Forecast sheet.

Next, enter the forecast values for each interval.  Note: The inserted assignment and its forecast values will not be saved to the database until the Save button is clicked.

Deleting an Assignment

Selecting one or more assignment rows and clicking “Delete” will remove the assignment…

Converting an Overbooked Assignment Back to a Skill Assignment

To convert all or the excess demand of a Resource assignment to a Skill assignment, select the assignment and click the “Convert to Skill” button.  Pick the option desired.

Shortfall Only

Selecting “Shortfall Only” will move only the excess demand for that row to a newly created skill assignment for the project.

All Demand

Selecting “All Demand” will move all visible demand for that row to a newly created skill assignment for the project.  Note: Make sure all demand that should be moved is visible using the Date Range filters.

Selecting Candidates to Fill a Skill Assignment

Selecting a Forecast row and clicking the “Candidates” button shows the set of candidates with the skill needed and their available capacity in relation to the need. Note: A candidate’s capacity shown is limited by the need; they may actually have more available capacity than needed.

To fill the demand with an available candidate, select the candidate by clicking on any of the cells on the candidate row, and then click the newly enabled Replace button. This will add an effort row for that candidate, replacing the skill assignment. Don't forget to press Save to save your changes.

Note: On the Candidates pane, there are three options that can change how candidates are shown and selected:

  • All Nodes- Clicking this shows all candidates with the proper skill in all organization nodes in your selected global filter, not just those candidates in the organization that the assignment is currently allocated in.

  • All Skills- Clicking this shows all candidates in the organization that the assignment is currently allocated in, not just those resources having the proper skill.

  • All Demand- Clicking this will move all visible demand for the assignment to the selected candidate, even if it creates an excess allocation for some or all time intervals.

Optimization Tools

Toward the upper left of the Forecast tab, there's a dropdown button called Optimization, which offers two choices:

  • Allocate Committed First
  • Use Availability for Skill assignments

As follows:

Resources_Optimization_Menu.JPG

Allocate Committed First

If you add the Forecast State field (sometimes called Effort State) to a view called Forecast Optimization (usually this view is pre-installed), this field by default comes with two choices: Proposed or Committed. In essence, you can set the forecast state for any assignment row as "committed." This way, if Allocate Committed First is checked, the system will be sure to allocate the committed rows first, regardless of the Unit Priority of the projects. Ordinarily, without this checked, the system allocates in priority order.

Below is the Forecast Optimization view with the Forecast State included:

Resources_Forecast_Optimization_View.JPG

Use Availability for Skill Assignments

This is the other optimization tool, and is a toggle. With this checked, you can see "what if" all the skill needs were filled with currently available resources with those skills. This gives you a sense of how your shortfall situation can and should look if you're making optimal use of your resources and their skill sets.

Save and Cancel

To save any changes to the database, click on the  Save button at upper right. If you do not want to save the changes made in a role-based section (e.g., Resources), simply exit the section session by clicking the “x” in the upper right of the role-based section header:

  • Was this article helpful?