Visually Analyze Resource Impact

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Visually Analyze Resource Impact with this Free Tool

by Glenna Shaw

Summary

Resource Management is a significant and challenging component of any program or project.  How often have you found yourself juggling assignments when a team member unexpectedly leaves?  Or been challenged with convincing upper management that more resources are needed to complete a project?  This free tool easily allows you to perform visual real time analysis on the impact of resources (or lack thereof) and present that information to others.

About the Tool

This tool allows you perform “what if” scenarios in real time to determine the impact of resources on a project or program.  Resources may be people, items, funds, etc.  Activities may be milestones, tasks, projects, etc.  Values may be hours, days, dollar amounts, etc.  The tool is also helpful for analyzing the impact of crashing an activity or project.  Values must be numeric.  Crystal Xcelsius and an underlying Excel spreadsheet were used to create this interactive visual analytical tool and then integrate it into PowerPoint.  To effectively use this tool, you must have the free Flash Player and, if using PowerPoint, the full version of PowerPoint 2000 or higher.

How to Use the Tool

First download the http://www.pptmagic.com/downloads/ResourceImpact.zip and unzip both files (ResourceImpactAnalysis1.swf and ResourceImpactAnalysis.ppt) to the same folder on your hard drive.  Then run PowerPoint and open the ResourceImpactAnalysis.ppt file.  Hit F5 to run the presentation and go to the Resource Impact Analysis Tool (slide 3) in the presentation.  Optionally, you can run the tool online.

 

Enter your resources, activities and values in the designated boxes.  Typically resources are persons, activities are high level composed of tasks and values are hours.  However, feel free to be creative and use the tool for whatever meets your needs best.  For any resources or activities you do not use, enter a zero for the resource or activity name and leave associated values set to zero.  This will hide any unnecessary resource or activity gauges.  The gauges are set up to reflect when percentages are at critical levels.  The indicators are:

When you’ve completed entering your information, save your Resource Impact Tool settings by clicking on save/load your settings and follow the prompts.  Then click the arrow twice to move out of the Resource Impact Analysis slide, exit Slideshow mode (ESC) and return to PowerPoint edit mode.

 

To complete your presentation, enter your own information and additional slides into the template, if desired apply your own design and save as PPT file.  Be sure to keep your presentation file and the ResourceImpactAnalysis1.swf file in the same folder.

When you run your slideshow, you can move the sliders to demonstrate a variety of “what if” scenarios to analyze the impact on your project.  Be sure to use the arrow keys to move to and from the Resource Impact Analysis Tool slide.  You’ll need to click on the arrows twice to go forward/back.

 

The tool can also be used without PowerPoint.  Simply use your web browser to open the ResourceImpactAnalysis1.swf and follow the same steps for your scenarios.  Be sure to save your settings for each scenario.  Please note: scenarios are saved to the individual PC and cannot be moved to another PC.  This is a Flash Player limitation.

The Family Move Project

Click to enlarge

 

This example shows a Family Move Project.  The resources are Dad, Mom, Big Brother, Big Sister and Baby.  The Activities are Finance, Insurance, Notifications, Movers, Packing, Cleaning, Vital Records, Utilities, School and Taxes.  These high level activities have tasks associated with them and are assigned to each family member in estimated hours to complete.  These hours are placed in the value boxes.  At a glance you can see that Mom is committing the most time to the project and Baby has very little time assigned.  It’s also easy to see that packing and cleaning are the activities that will take the majority of time and resources. Since Baby requires supervision, this might be a good indicator that the family needs to hire a caretaker for Baby during the packing and cleaning activities of the project.

 

Click to enlarge

 

By moving the sliders for the resources, you can see the impact to the Family Move Project if any of the family members are not available.  For example, if Dad had to go out of town for 2 weeks, the Family Move Project would lose approximately 80 hours of Dad’s time.  By moving the slider to decrease Dad’s participation by 80 hours, we immediately see that the activities involving Finances, Insurance and Taxes move into the caution area of the gauges and are unlikely to be successfully completed.  On the other hand, you can also see that Dad’s absence has little impact on the packing and cleaning activities.  Using this rapid analysis, the family might want to consider hiring the services of a CPA to cover Dad’s tasks while he is out of town.

 

This is a very simple example, but the tool can be used in a variety of ways.  It can be especially effective in justifying additional resources for a program or project.

 

What if you need to show more than 10 activities and 5 resources?  Or you’d like to have multiple projects in a single presentation?  Go to the Resource Impact Analysis Tool (slide 3) and click on Insert, Duplicate Slide.  Repeat as many times as needed.

Do It Yourself

If you have your own copy of Crystal Xcelsius and would like to modify the Resource Impact Analysis Tool to meet you own needs the source files are available at http://www.pptmagic.com/downloads/ResourceImpactSourceFiles.zip.

For a Bit of Irreverent Fun

See the Cinderella Project, also created with Crystal Xcelsius.

Was this tutorial helpful?  Please feel free to share your comments &/or suggestions.

 

Copyright © 2006 Glenna Shaw