Designing Forms for Resource Planning, Part I

Designing Forms for Resource Planning, Part I

I’ve been quite busy—or more accurately, pleasantly distracted—by all the cool people I’ve been talking to in the past few weeks. I’ve also been recently booked on some interesting projects that threaten to take up my time up to August 31st. It’s a nice problem to have, though I am finding myself wanting some kind of way of predicting my future time.

Right now, I’m relying on Google Calendar to mark and reserve chunks of time in the future; the built-in reminder system works pretty well, and the printed output from the browser are surprisingly nice. I was reminded, though, of a couple of forms I had given everyone a peek of in Guess the Form last January. I’d basically sat on it until now, so to make up for that (and a slow summer posting schedule), I’m going to just release them and see if people find them useful. A couple of people had asked about them in email, and I’d sent them some drafts. I haven’t heard back though, so I’m assuming the forms didn’t work out that well. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the two variations I made.

THREE WEEK RESOURCE PLANNING

This is basically a mashup of my compact calendar with the timegrid concepts that you may recognize from the Emergent Task Planner and the Resource Task Tracking. It’s designed to allow you to allocate deliverables (and the amount of time required) to certain days in the future. The addition of the calendar may make this a more useful form, though I’m not sure.

Three Week Resource Planner This is the form that I originally showed back in January, so now everyone finally has a chance to try it out. There really isn’t much different from that earlier version, except some updated serial numbers and the marking “DRAFT RELEASE” at the bottom. The design isn’t tweaked to completion either, so colors, proportions, and line weights are still a bit off.

EIGHT WEEK RESOURCE PLANNING

For looking even further out, I had made a variation that uses less detail than the three-week version. To get more rows in, I assumed that half-day allocation was good enough. For me, this time unit probably would work pretty well even if I’m allocating 1 or 2-hour tasks was out in the future. I figure that time will get lost anyway to administrative overhead. Allowing myself some buffer time is a good thing anyway…but not too much.

Eight Week Resource Planner You’ll notice that there’s a lot of space to write down stuff. I think the information here might be job codes or numbers + the name of the task or client. You can scribble the number into the timegrid directly. You might use colored markers to pre-allocate vacation days and other time.

USAGE

I really am not sure the best way to use these, which is why I’ve decided to just release them as unlocked PDF files and see if anyone can discover best practices for them. Think of it as a collaborative design exercise.

If you think of something interesting to do with them, or make a modification to share, register on the Wiki and feel free to edit the page to add your take on the design. Registered users should have the ability to upload files too, so let me know if that doesn’t work. This way, I will stop being the bottleneck for people who want to contribute their ideas. Will it work? I guess we’ll find out.

Feel free to play in the Wiki! It’s your space to express your ideas and concepts. If you see anything that looks obviously like abuse, feel free to nuke or re-edit things.

Some random thoughts:

  • I would probably want to print these larger than 11×8.5″ so I had more room to write. And since these sheets would theoretically be in use for several weeks, I’d print them on more robust paper stock than usual. Cardstock or lamination might be the way to go.

  • I’ve thought that using post-it notes as markers (particularly those very tiny tab ones) might be a good way to show utilization. One problem is that this sheet really only works for one resource at a time. You could print multiple ones for each resource.

  • This is one of those things that probably would be better suited to a software application GUI.

DOWNLOAD FORMS

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p>You’ll find them on this wiki page. Don’t forget to register if you want to upload or annotate any of the existing pages. Thank you in advance for participating!

8 Comments

  1. penny 12 years ago

    How did you know exactly what I needed right now? ;) I’ll play and let you know.

    ——-

  2. Mike Hickerson 12 years ago

    Thanks!  These look really great.  I have lots of trouble predicting my future time.  The original Resource Scheduler is appealing, but since I carry everything in a 3-ring binder system, clipboards just added to my clutter.  Single sheets of paper are better, IMHO.

  3. Amanda Himelein 12 years ago

    Gah!

    The form is really cool and I like it – you’ve always done great work so far, I see no reason that this one will be different.

    But I REALLY liked the thing where I just clicked on your picture and downloaded the form.  Is there anyway I can have my one-click shopping again?  Making people click through 3 screens to obtain your product doesn’t seem like the best way to build a customer base….

  4. Dave Seah 12 years ago

    Mike: Thanks for the useful feedback! Curious is this helps you out.

    Amanda: Good point! This is an early form, so I’m not too concerned about building a customer base with this one…only the most hardcore will put up with those three clicks! :-) However, I’m trying to figure out how to integrate a wiki with the rest of my content, so thank you for the great feedback on the inconvenience! I may fix this soon.

  5. Lynn O'Connor 12 years ago

    Thanks Dave. As I reported in Feb., planning beyond a day or two is still my great weakness. I tend to procrastinate in part because I don’t plan. I have been waiting for a tool that will help me, simply by working with it. I tried to make my own version of this, cutting out (literally with sissors) and taping together parts of other forms available, but the results were awkward. I will try both, but realistically I may need to develop some mastery over the three week period before I can successfully tackle eight weeks. You have provided a have a structure to work with and a serious productivity training instrument, particularly useful for us knowledge workers.

  6. y0mbo 12 years ago

    Dave,

    I was one of the folks you emailed the demo version to, and I have been using the three week planner.  (I didn’t really know what to do with the 8-week planner, so I haven’t used it.) I’m just wrapping up week 9 of using it (3 sheets), which I think might be enough time to start making some observations about the sheets. (That’s why you haven’t heard back from me ;-)

    Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to scan and post my usage of this form on the wiki.

    Some observations:

    <ol>
    <li>I have been working at a client site for the duration of the 9 weeks, so its been a bit more difficult for me to use it as a planning tool.  My time has been strictly dedicated to their projects and the priorities they set forth.  In a few occasions, I’ve done planning for evenings and weekends that seems to work out alright.  I used the blue blocks like the 8-hours during the day and the red for everything else.  I tried to roughly match hours when filling in the blocks.</li>
    <li>Use pencil.  I hate pencils and used a pen, but that doesn’t allow for adjustments of the schedule as things change.</li>
    <li>Fill in only 1 week in advance.  Except for calendar events which I knew in advance, I didn’t get too far ahead in planning what I’d be doing.  I don’t know what its going to look like in two weeks from now because tasks typically change.</li>
    <li>Rolling projector verses static.  I used a static method, where I just used the same sheet for three weeks, but I could also see the potential for the current week always being the top row with planning out for the next two weeks.  Each new week would be a new sheet and planning tasks would be adjusted as they were transferred to the new sheet.  I think a three week rolling plan might be nice way to keep things up to date.</li>
    <li>Job Codes:  I use longer job codes 0005.250 – where 0005 is the client and 250 is the task… so I had a bit of trouble fitting into the job code field.  I could have probably done it more like 5.250 and made it work.</li>
    <li>Deliverables line: I found the area to write the deliverables description to be too short to fit my handwriting, so I ended up writing over the est. hours and due date columns.  This form might work better on legal size paper.</li>
    <li>Due dates: I didn’t find these particularly useful, mostly because I ended up overwriting them.  Also, the calendar section is where I tended to write in when things were due anyway.</li>
    </ol>

    Bottom Line: If I were working in more of a freelance mode, this would be a great form, but it’s a little hard to use when my day is dedicated to a single client.

  7. Meredith 12 years ago

    I’m going to try using these to allocate my time in preparing for upcoming art shows.  Might save me a mad scramble as the deadline draws near.

    If I make edits, I’ll put them on the wiki.

    Thanks for another great form! -drun

  8. Richard Morgan 12 years ago

    Love the 8-week form.  Already using it.

    Minor gripes:

    Lose the calendar down the side, it’s too small to be useful and wastes space on the form.

    Make a spot for writing in at least the date of the monday of each week.  I scribbled in 7/9 7/16, etc on the top corner of each monday.