Human Resource Plan

With excerpts from my Project Management Novel, I will illustrate the many processes of the PMBOK.  Here is the fifteenth one: Human Resource Plan. Use this map to see how this process fits into the scheme of processes.   15 HR Plan

Gwilym walked around with the calendar, checking off who was working and who was due to come tomorrow for laying out the foundations. He checked the way the crew were doing their jobs and made judgments on their level of various skills. Then he and Fred sat down at an easel with a blank sheet of paper and the network diagram showing all the activities and who was responsible for each and created a new document. “Let’s call this our ‘Human Resource Plan,’ Fred.”

“We’ll list all the roles we have to fill for doing this project: Project Manager, Foreman, Sawyer, Mason, Foundation Man, Laborer, Carpenter, Quarryman, Road-builder. Then we list the names of all the men who fill those roles for us. Some can be used in two or more roles.”

After they had done that, Gwilym took out another sheet of paper. “Some of the men were too happy day before yesterday volunteering for activities. We need to show this in a better way than just their names on activities in the network diagram. I think we’ll get some warning of their overuse if we plot the activities against the people.”

Fred took a large sheet of paper, and wrote the names of the crew on the vertical axis. On the x axis he wrote the names of all the activities. Where they intersected he placed a letter R next to the person who volunteered to take responsibility for that activity. He placed a letter I if the person was involved with the activity. With Gwilym calling out the activities and Fred writing, they were soon finished.

Responsibility Matrix

“Let’s add the role of the crew below their names so we can see which roles are overloaded,” said Gwilym. On doing so they saw that the foundation men seemed overloaded at first, then the masons, then the carpenters. That made some sense based on the nature of the work.

“We need to see when we need how many people,” said Fred.

“I agree. Let’s display how many we need based on the network diagram. Now we need lots of laborers for the demolition. Tomorrow we can still use some laborers to demolish the rest of the palace but we need foundation men to start digging out the foundation hole. Also we need Sawyers to be getting the right amount of wood for the tower and a Quarryman to decide how much extra stone we need and obtain that for us.”

Fred had created a chart that was titled, ‘Laborers,’ and had written ‘Number’ on the y axis and ‘Day’ on the x axis. He placed marks indicating 1 through 12 on the y axis and was filling in ten units for how many men they were using on the first day. “How many laborers will we need tomorrow?”

“I think some of the men acting as laborers today are really sawyers and foundation men so they will be coming off to do their jobs. But we could use as many as we could get to tear down the palace.”

“But demolishin’ th’rest of th’palace is not on th’critical path, Gwilym.” Fred pointed this out on the network diagram.

“You’re right, Fred! Why don’t we leave that work for filler work when our men are waiting around for something to do? That way they can focus on the critical path. What are you doing?”

“I’m seeing how many we need of each type of people each day so tha can see when tha need to send extras home and when tha need to bring more on board.”

“I like it!” exclaimed Gwilym. “Let’s fill it out.” They each took sheets of paper, titled with the various skill-sets and, using the network diagram and the calendar as a guide, filled out the resource requirements in what Gwilym called the resource histograms.

They noticed two things:

First, there were times that there was a greater need for a particular resource than they had. They indicated this by drawing a horizontal capacity line at the number of men they had on their crew with a particular skill. They chose not to do this on the laborer skill-set since they could add people there from other skills when they were not working.

Second, there were occasions when the need for a particular skill was far lower than the number of people they had with that skill. “These will be times of furlough,” said Gwilym. “The men wanted warnings of when they would be furloughed so that they can tend to their farms. This will work for that.”

“But what about times like these,” pointed out Fred, “when we have not enough carpenters?”

Resource Graph

“First we have to see which activities put that demand on. If they are on the critical path, we can’t delay them but there may be some demand coming from activities off the critical path. If that is the cause, we can delay those activities and see what that does to the schedule.”

The two of them worked through that example and were able to put off some work which delayed another path of the plan and solved the carpenter resource problem. But now limited mason time caused another resource constraint. Plus it caused them to have to redo all the resource histograms; a lengthy and complicated process.

“Let’s see how the men are doing while we think about a better way to handle this problem,” suggested Gwilym.

That night, Gwilym had an epiphany for his human resource problem. The next day, once the crew was working hard, he went back into the village and purchased some cheap, colored cloth and a pair of spring scissors.


He set about cutting this cloth into many small squares, each about an inch square. Then he took some paper and lined it like they had yesterday with axes showing dates on the x axis and number of people on the y axis. Each week on the x-axis and each half person on the y axis was one inch long. He made one for each skill. Then he called Fred in.

Gwilym explained his idea to Fred. “Each one of these colored squares indicates half a person of a particular skill working for a week.” He placed two on top of each other. “This represents a whole person working for a week. We place this on the chart and we can see what we need given the current schedule. Then, when we change the schedule, we move the pieces of cloth around to make sure we don’t overload our people.”

Fred’s eyes grew wide as he understood, and the two men worked together, placing squares, adjusting the schedule, moving squares, sometimes cutting them further down to indicate a quarter person on even vertically to indicate someone working for a day or two rather than for a week. Within a few hours they were done. They had reached a point where the schedule could be met without stretching resources anywhere. There were a few occasions when they would have to bring on some extra laborers and other occasions when work off the critical path would have to sit until there was a lull in other activities. But their schedule was doable now and the men would have plenty of warning when they could take time off the project and work their fields.

During dinner they stitched the cloth pieces to the paper. Then Fred redid the calendar and placed it on the wall where every member of the team could see it. As the crew left the job-site at the end of the day, Gwilym showed it to them. Each crew member followed their plan on the calendar and took note of the days they would be expected to leave the project.

“How good are you at predicting de future, Gwilym?” asked Tollemache.

“The schedule should be pretty accurate for the next few weeks. Then things will happen that will change the predictions but I will keep this calendar up-to-date. Keep checking back to see how things will change. If you have plans that cannot be changed due to your farm, it becomes my problem.”

The men nodded and walked off home. “What do tha call this tool, Gwilym?”

“Resource planning. No. There will be other plans we need for resources like stone and wood. How about Human Resource Plan? Yes. I like that."