Why High-Level Planning Succeeds Where Detailed Task-Based Planning Fails

February 10, 2020 | By Samantha Varner

One of the most important decisions an organization can make is which new projects to add to their portfolio.

After all, projects are not only the key to corporate growth, but project priority and funding also have a direct impact of organizational success. Being able to maximize resources puts an organization in the best possible position to deliver on their portfolio.

At a minimum, this decision-making process should involve strategically evaluating data and forecasts to accurately assess project scope as well as impact on the rest of the project portfolio.

Without the right tools, this is easier said than done.

That’s why Tempus Resource built early-stage forecasting capabilities right into the system. By allowing organizations to quickly and easily assess project scope, we enable project and resource managers to make the decisions that will have the most positive impact on the organization’s overall success.

DETAILED TASK-BASED PLANNING VERSUS HIGH-LEVEL PLANNING

Early-stage forecasting is meant to assess the overall effort required to complete a project. When a user is working through scoping exercises, entering detailed task-based planning or specific activities provides little-to-no value.

In an effort to generate comprehensive project plans, most project management systems require too much data entry to serve as an effective forecasting tool. Even if it is far too early in the project planning stages to be assigning tasks, users can’t access scope without adding in that information.

If a PPM system also requires users to maintain complex schedules, it becomes impossibly complicated to keep everything up to date. This results in messy data that doesn’t reflect reality.

This is why many project or resource managers turn to excel. As projects and scope evolve, they need to be able to make quick updates to assess impact.

Those updates are simply not possible to make quickly or efficiently in task-based planning systems.

Tempus enables high-level planning without the need to enter tasks or activities. By utilizing this feature, systems can integrate with the line of business to capture the early-stage forecast, allowing other departments to play a role in building out the details.

HOW DOES EARLY-STAGE FORECASTING WORK

Tempus gives users the ability to submit early-stage, high-level requests with built-in parameters. For every kind of project, from requesting a new drug to building new software, resource managers can forecast for the types of resources needed.

The tool is supported by a centralized resource pool. It contains named individuals as well as “demand planning,” which is a generic resource placeholder instead of a person.

So as a user decides what type of resources will be needed for a project — from data scientists to verification engineers — they can submit the desired number of resources without needing to select actual individuals.

With this capability, resource managers can accurately assess scope long before they ever need to think about how individual resource’s schedules will impact the project or the organization’s overall portfolio.

By creating and submitting these early-stage forecasts, Tempus enables the line of business to communicate with departments like engineering, product development, or IT. This collaboration gives a more holistic view of how a project can impact the organization and which resources it will need to be in the best position for success.

MODES OF ENTRY FOR HIGH-LEVEL FORECASTING

Most PPM systems use hour-based planning or duration-based planning. However, these modes of entry are not always the best option.

Within Tempus, there are multiple modes of entry including hours, cost, FTE, FTE %, and mandays. Resource managers can also capture planned, actual, and even calculated remaining resource availability.

Users can easily convert between each mode to create a comprehensive forecast in the best format for all departments.

Additionally, users can view the grid of entry by months, weeks, or days. This functionality allows resource managers to stay as high-level or get as granular as they need.

Each user can have specific permissions set for their account to enable or limit how much that user can affect. Users with the permissions to create a project will be able to input high-level business case information in order to create a forecast.

Within that forecast, the user can select the timeframe, placeholder resources, and FTE or headcount. This gives the user the ability to assess project scope without needing to add tasks or specific activities.

Another reason resource managers would prefer to plan at the resource level than the task level is to avoid the nightmare of maintaining complex schedules. This messy, complicated process is why many project managers will turn to excel and only make updates in their PPM system when absolutely necessary.

High-level forecasting completely eliminates this challenge. When a system like Tempus makes it easy and efficient for resource managers to update information, this keeps data secure while also maintaining the functionality that only an enterprise system can offer.

In the event that task-based entry is necessary or useful, Tempus does support the ability to build out a Level 1 work breakdown structure.

Tempus’s early-stage forecasting features were designed to give resource managers the flexibility to input as much or as little detail as they need.

USING HIGH-LEVEL FORECASTING TO ENABLE SUCCESS

Early-stage forecasting is critical to predicting the success of a project. However, detailed task-based requires too much overhead a time spent executing without real results.

However, when resource managers turn to excel, their data is no longer secure and is unavailable for forecasts or reporting within the enterprise system.

The high-level forecasting functionality within Tempus gives users the ability to efficiently create forecasts needed to strategically make decisions.

Access to this quality data enables better decision-making, ultimately increasing the likelihood of project portfolio and overall organizational success.

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