Resource Management at an Inspection organisation

One of our customers uses resource planning to plan the inspection projects. An inspection project consists of multiple inspections within a specific branch with a specific focus area. Since this is about thousands of inspections, hundreds of employees and many knowledge areas, the requirement was that the planning could be made automatic. The planning should take account of required knowledge, the availability of the employees, travel distance and regional dispersion. 

In a typical resource planning, there is always a trade-off between supply and demand of capacity. On the side of the demand there is a requirement planning, whereby capacity is demanded to keep projects going. For these projects specific skills are necessary. The side of supply consists of employees and the available (project-)capacity. Where these two sides meet, decisions should be made about, amongst others, priority, more/less projects, more/less employees, project extensions etcetera. This eventually leads to an appointment of employees to projects.

The planning problem is not easy since multiple variables play a role:

  • Forecasted work supply and work in progress within projects
  • Responding to unforeseen work through accidents
  • Availability of employees
  • Knowledge areas

Next to the more ‘technical’ aspects of the planning, organizational aspects play an utmost important role. How do we embed the planning process into the matrix organization and do we account for reaching the organizations goals? The governance around the planning processes is also equipped. 


Demand planning

Each year a plan is established in which it is decided which projects will be executed and in which period. In first instance this is a rough planning on the programme level which will afterwards be defined per underlying project. Per project the number of inspections is identified and with the help of the norm time per inspection the demand for capacity is known.

For each project the necessary knowledge areas are appointed, such that the right inspectors are selected when appointing the projects. It is also possible to appoint a minimum amount of inspectors as an extra restricting factor.

Availibility capacity

In order to arrive at the availability a layered flexible model is used. Starting with the gross availability, a part of the capacity is reserved. These are amongst others, reservations for illness, leave, training, consulting etcetera. On the bottom line we are then left with the inspection capacity per employee.

The model used for this is very flexible. Hereby it is possible to easily adjust it to all future changes. One can think of a different regulation concerning age leave or the adding or removing of a category as examples.

Automatic and manual assignment

The assignment of employees consist of two components. Firstly a manual assignment can be entered. These are for example employees which have a strong preference for a project or projects which were already executed in earlier years and are now executed again with the same employees. When the manual assignment has been conducted, the remaining capacity is automatically assigned to the projects. There is hereby accounted for requirements such as:

  • the demand for capacity
  • demanded skills
  • availability of the employees
  • travel distance and regional dispersion
  • minimum number of required employees
  • turnaround time of the project

From this assignment various overviews follow, from which bottlenecks can rapidly be derived. These bottlenecks can in turn be the cause for moving projects, trainings, hiring practices, etcetera.

Governance

The inspection organisation is not a pure line organisation but neither a pure matrix organisation. This meant that the organizational processes around the planning had to be equipped in a fitting manner. The line manager makes arrangements on the number of inspections per programme with the 'customer' of the organisation. There is a central planning function appointed which is responsible for the preparation of the central planning of about twenty teams. Decision making on the appointment of employees happens centrally. Decision making on the availability of the employees happens decentralized.

Next to the regular planning processes, escalation routes were appointed to solve bottlenecks outside of the mandate of the organisation.


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