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Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

I am looking for an efficient way to track and forecast engineer resources amongst a small design team. The design team resources are split amongst several projects so I'm looking for a way to track resources at an operations level (not necessarily detailed within each project) to provide a real-time snapshot of resource loading.

Ideally I'd like to be able to tie engineering hours from each project ( budgeted hours, hours used, etc..) to provide forecasting of engineer resources on a 3-month look ahead to compare available resources against projects in pipeline.

Anyone have any good suggests on what type of tool to use for this? Would Microsoft project be an efficient tool if individual project schedules fore each project are already created and can be pulled from to develop engineering resource schedule?

Currently we are trying to track this using various different spreadsheets which becomes cumbersome and time consuming and never really provides an accurate picture since project resources for a given project are never considered along with future resource loading since these are tracked separately.

Thanks for any advice.

RE: Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

How are you tracking hours now? Is there a timecard system? Does each project have its own unique charge number? Do you do earned value?

Hypothetically, MS Project and other software of a similar nature can certainly do the calculations, but I've often seen that the program isn't the problem; it's the discipline to do the timely recording of the data that's the challenge. We've often spend manweeks loading an IMS, only to not update it weekly as should be the case; it gets updated only when management or customer reviews force an update.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

Howdy Rockman,
If your looking for a tool to track the deliverables on multiple projects, I can recommend Kye Bay Systems Inc. "Document Management System" or DMSys. It was developed for small engineering offices in mind. It is written in MS Access (& VBA). Refer to flyer below.
Yes, I know that it sold as a DMS, but it does have the ability to track individual engineering deliverables, including budget hours per deliverable and % complete per deliverable.
They can be contacted at info@kyebaysystems.com


"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

RE: Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources


Yes currently right now we are using a timecard system with each project having a unique identification code.

We don't really track earned value. We have typically have engineering items (along with other project items) broken out into revenue recognition items based on deliverables (30%, 60%, 90%, etc...)but most of the time even these are loosely tracked vs actual costs.

RE: Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

Any further magic here?

I'm in that same boat and with almost twenty years here, we have never really had a clean way to do it.

Historically, we have made a stab at it all in MS Project and while the team members like having the graphical representation, it is a good bit of work keeping it up. We have a MS project schedule (currently out of date by six months) that is internal to the department and a MS word summary sheet that goes company wide (current two weeks out of date). The hours spent maintaining them take away mentoring or production time.

They are valuable resources, but I am using them as pretty dumb charts vs really resource loading them.

But in my world, each projects is very similar to the past, but also wildly different - so most time estimates are a bust as well - hard to anticipate the unknown as the best laid estimate undoubtedly misses something.

As a construction comapny, we do have some in house project tracking set up by IT - I have pondered if it would add value to try to use it to track work - but mostly each team member is responsibile for looking ahead at their work while I try to make sure we are support internal and external needs.


RE: Tracking and Forecasting Engineering Resources

One needs to almost be fanatical to get the data people need to accurately estimate project loading. I've seen only one part of one company do it at all, and they basically required full-time personnel to do the work.

IF, and that is a big IF, one does it, then one can have the data that shows how much the original bid was, and how much it was over (or under) run, and with that you can estimate future work based on the past experience and extrapolate only the change in scope, i.e., this PCB is double the complexity, or this building is 3 stories instead of 2. It works great if you have the discipline, but almost no one does.

The other big IF is that accurate job costing requires slicing and dicing the scope into teeny chunks; well below the level of a man-month, or even a man-week. This forces you to enumerate ALL the required tasks, and having done that a few times, the "I forgots" should start to diminish. It's another discipline thing, and I've only seen one company do that well; they sliced and diced their scope estimates down to the handfuls of hours. That was partly because they're a sub, and knew that part of the negotiation would involve SMEs attempting to break their estimates; it's easy to argue that a 160-hr task appears to be too high and they should take a 10% haircut, but it's much harder to argue that fifty 3-hr tasks should each take cuts. But, they didn't really assign 50 charge numbers either, but if they did, they'd not only have a template for the next bid, but they could see how they historically managed their hours on a task by task basis.

Note that all of this is prit-near useless if one doesn't accurately assess the job after completion, with all the lessons learned, rationale for overs and unders, which is another discipline nightmare.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

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