Why Excel is NOT the right tool for Resource Managers

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Excel – Easy at first, but soon unmanageable

One of the single biggest challenges facing IT Resource/Planning Managers in a PMO is understanding resource capacity, demand and cost. To be a successful Resource/Planning Manager, you need to have a clear view of the upcoming project demand, capacity and availability along with detailed resource needs (location, skills, rates). To have this view you need accurate timesheets, forecasts, rates and expenses. At first this appears easy to manage – a basic Excel with the resource names, assignment and some calculations for rates and total monthly hours for 10-30 people; this may be appropriate for a limited number of projects but if the portfolio grows, this becomes unmanageable.

Any large-scale business transformation (such as ERP merger, Sales/HR Transformations and Digital Programmes for example) will have a profound impact on the daily IT PMO operations. Suddenly your small Excel system to help manage ‘normal’ project activity has grown to over 100+ IT Project Managers, Contractors and Analysts in a short period of time.

Challenges the PMO will face with Excel

  •  How do you manage a single resource working on multiple projects? Having to manually add new rows for each assignment (some will be split across 5 projects) and manually adding the hours each month is very time consuming.
  • There is no timesheet approval mechanism in Excel. How do you (as the IT Resource Manager) know if they worked overtime for a Go Live weekend cutover and was it approved?
  • Splitting out functional and development hours for finance capitalisation. If your organisation chooses to capitalise IT Projects, then you might as well set up camp in the office. There are not enough hours in the day to manually split out individual WBS hours for 100+ people in Excel.
  • Trying to split out costs when there are changes to rate cards. Changes in IT Resource Rates happen regularly. But changing rates across multiple projects and then working out different internal and external charges is a nightmare, especially if these are over multiple invoices.
  • Splitting expenses across multiple projects. This adds more and more manual Excel work (with no approval workflow).

Excel now becomes an industry in its own right and prevents you from forward planning because you are immersed in the sheer amount of day to day administration. Even with a support analyst, the data consumes too much time from the IT PMO. The IT PMO should be the fountain of operational knowledge to support change, but you can soon find yourself unable to answer simple questions such as:

·       “How much do we owe each 3rd party supplier this month?”

·       “What is the to-date Contractor costs across the IT Portfolio?”

·       “What is the projection for Year End over/under recovery rates?”

Professional Timesheet Management for the PMO

Selecting the right IT PMO tools is essential. By using a timesheet management tool (such as PM3time) you can save so much time and ensure the PMO focuses their effort where it’s really needed. There is no value in a resource manager becoming a ‘Spreadsheet Jockey’ and spending 75% of their time doing manual entry work. You are guaranteed to have errors and you are not focussing on the real value-added activities that a PMO should be doing.

By implementing a timesheet management tool for IT Contractors and permanent staff, you save time, cost and your PMO focus can be on more value-adding activities.

I have used lots of Timesheet tools in my time, but what I really like about PM3time is:

  •  I could assign a single resource to multiple projects with ease. Time is booked against each Project and sent for approval workflow.
  • Time is also split between project tasks. Some can be capitalised, set to billable or simply vacation/training. All of which are easily reportable and rolled upwards
  • Expenses are linked and approved to individual projects through each resource
  • You can set rates for different projects, resources or resource groups. Helps with any mass change and is calculated automatically in the invoicing module.
  • Scalable, affordable and easily accessible (cloud based).
  • Full reporting, Excel/CSV export which can be used for accounting payroll software.
  • Links to PPM tool (PM3) so you can ensure Project actuals are rolled up to true project costs. Very powerful for IT Portfolio Management and Senior Stakeholders

In my experience, using timesheet software gives the Resource Manager time to be able to work closer with the Portfolio Managers to understand future demand. They deliver more value as the role becomes more strategic and not operationally focussed.

Author: Jack Watson – Jack is an experienced Senior PMO Consultant with track record of working on large scale business transformations. Skilled in Project/Programme Management and Resource Capacity/Skills Forecasting in a range of sectors including IT, FMCG, Health, Retail, Hospitality and Construction.

About Bestoutcome

Bestoutcome specialises in Portfolio, Programme and Project Management (PPM) software and services, always focusing on the overall outcome to ensure successful business change. Our approach is based on delivering specific business outcomes within a uniquely transparent, risk managed and open framework. This is achieved by using highly experienced consultants combined with PM3, a client configurable PMO software and reporting toolset, allied to an outcome-driven project management (ODPM) methodology. Bestoutcome’s starting point is always the client’s ultimate business goal and we never lose sight of this. Bestoutcome’s timesheet software, PM3time is used in many private and public sector organisations for automating timesheet capture and reporting processes. Bestoutcome has completed a significant range of change management assignments for large organisations operating in sectors such as Finance, Manufacturing, Energy, Retail, Public Sector, Insurance and Hospitality. Bestoutcome is ISO27001 Security Certified and our PM3 product range is available to Public Sector clients via the UK Government Digital Market Place Catalogue.

Enquiries: info@bestoutcome.com  +44 1753 885864   https://www.bestoutcome.com

David Walton
About the author
David Walton

I am David Walton, Programme,Project and Portfolio Management specialist and director of Bestoutcome here in the UK. We make the PMO tools PM3, PM3time and PM3change, the only PMO tools designed by practitioners for practitioners.

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