Bird’s Eye Resource Management

Managing a team of any size on multiple concurrent projects requires some level of process and dashboarding at both the macroscopic and microscopic levels. For microscopic resource management, there’s no beating industry-standard task-based tools like Microsoft Project, Basecamp and Jira (three tools we currently use at Vortex Mobile). Macroscopic resource management remains a challenge. For some reason, there just aren’t a lot of accessible out-of-the-box visualization tools for project managers who need to quickly juggle projects, people and time without committing to a costly ERP infrastructure.

A few years ago, I developed a spreadsheet-based resource calendar for dynamically managing teams across projects, and for lack of a better alternative I’ve continued to use this, migrating it into Google Docs and tweaking it to the needs of specific environments and resource structures. As a macroscopic visualization tool, it provides resource managers with several advantages over more granular task-based technologies:

  • Real-time bird’s eye view of status and resourcing requirements across the organization
  • Color-coded to visually demarcate billable work from unbillable or speculative work
  • Two-tier permissioning using Google Docs page protection (only invited users can view the spreadsheet, and only authorized administrators like project managers can make changes) and auditing using revision history
  • Built-in conditional logic to flag status colors and alerts

The one significant limitation of a spreadsheet-based approach to resource management is that the actual allocation of resource blocks is ONLY visual; booked time has no logical meaning within the spreadsheet and exists solely as colored spreadsheet cells, and so moving project allocations around remains a manual task that, if not handled conscientiously by the project manager, can become divorced from the original resource estimate. This hasn’t been enough of a hurdle in recent years to prompt me to build a more intelligent platform, but everyone’s resourcing needs will obviously differ.

Feel free to make a copy of the resource calendar and try it out in your own environment; please read the explanatory notes on the “read me” tab and also review the license.

Open the resource calendar: http://bit.ly/cfVka0



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