Manpower Planning Using Resource Heat Maps

By October 10, 2018Blogs

With the unemployment at a historic low, shortage of skilled manpower is a major challenge faced by construction companies. Unable to hire to fulfill their manpower needs, it has become more important for companies to know their projected resource shortages well in advance while managing with the manpower they already have. With a lot of data to wrap one’s head around, forecasting manpower needs and fulfilling them can be very challenging. This is when insightful visualizations of manpower data using a series of role heat maps can be very helpful.

A role heat map is a graphical representation of various roles projected to be needed over the course of a forecast period. Each row of the heat map represents a type of role, such as Project Manager, and each column represents a time period. The shade (and value) of each cell corresponds to the degree of the role’s need or shortage.

The first in the series of heat maps is the Needs heat map. It simply shows the number of resources needed over the forecast period. A darker shade means more resources are needed and a lighter shade means fewer are needed. In the heat map shown below, Project Engineer has the darkest shade starting in Dec 2018, making it the most needed role while Sr. Project Executive has the lightest shade, making it the least needed role. Need heat map is solely about what is needed by the project regardless of whether or not resources are available to meet these needs.


The next in the series is a Soft Shortage heat map. It shows the residual needs after available resources have been committed to the roles needed. It shows the difference between what is needed and what has been committed. In the example shown below, Project Engineer becomes a lighter shade, indicating that some of those roles have been filled, while roles such as Project Admin and General Superintendent do not get much lighter and begin to get accentuated. Soft Shortage heat map is solely about needs for which resources have not been committed.

The third in the series is a Hard Shortage. It shows the difference between the soft needs and the uncommitted matching resources available to fill these unmet needs. In the example below, Project Engineers become very light, indicates that we have enough resources to meet most of the needs. On the other hand, Project Admin remains very darker shade, underscoring the projected shortage of resources to fill this type of role. Hard Shortage heat map may be the most valuable among the three because it accentuates the resources that have the highest level of shortages.

It is fairly easy to build these heat maps using BI tools or even spreadsheets. Given the valuable insights they provide, it is worth using such visual tools. However, resource shortage is not the only metric one needs to consider in a manpower planning. One may want to monitor other metrices such as overcommitment, utilization, cross-assignment, and overhead. We will cover these in the future posts. But I would like to hear from you if there are other manpower related metrices that you would like to see.