Resource planning: Practical case and testimonial by the Projects Manager at Heppner, the transport and logistics group

Heppner, the creator of transport and logistics solutions, is the specialist and independent leader of international exchanges to and from France. With strong international links, Heppner is also present in its own right in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Senegal. With 10,000 customers, 3,600 employees, 157 countries served and over 72 million packages delivered annually, Heppner has the challenge of remaining at the cutting edge of the digital and ecological issues linked to the supply chain. In this context, strategic projects make extensive demands on the time of the internal teams (in particular the Software Factory within the ISD and the contracting authority assistant team) on varied subjects: evolution of the TMS (Transport Management System), data structuring and management to improve the traceability of goods, projects linked to the environmental transition.

Clément Lalanne, the Group Projects Manager, reveals the inner workings of resource planning at Heppner. 

How do you:

Heppner has acquired the Project Monitor PPM tool for time entry, planning and workload management in order to obtain better workload planning and to achieve the company’s objectives in terms of strategic projects

This interview took place during PM Club 2022. PM Club is an event dedicated to our customers who use our Project Monitor project portfolio management software.

In this article, discover advice and practical cases concerning resource planning:

resource planning interview heppner

Heppner, creator of transport and logistics solutions

Heppner is an intermediate-sized French company founded in 1925. Heppner is the specialist and independent leader of international exchanges to and from France.

  • Present on all the Supply Chain business lines
  • A long-term vision based on the stability of the family shareholding structure
  • 3,600 employees
  • 85+ sites around the world
  • 157 countries served
  • 72 million packages delivered annually

A range of solutions to send goods all over the world:

  • OVERLAND: Land transport
  • OVERSEAS: Maritime, air and rail transport
  • LOGISTICS: Storage, preparation, customs’ declarations

🎤 Interview with Clément Lalanne, Group Projects Manager: a steering and coordination role

The main missions:

  • Structure project management (process, tools)
  • Lead the project managers’ community (communication, support, training)
  • Coordinate the steering of strategic projects
  • Report to the General Management

The initial context: structuring project management and the ability to complete projects

A significant number of projects to deliver: 20 strategic projects every year

In the Supply Chain field, the subject of the digital transformation is at the heart of priorities. Data is a crucial element to trace goods, inform the customer and the final recipient. Heppner is also proactive in the environmental transition. These challenges concerning the digital and environmental transformation provide many defining strategic projects. The challenge is to be able to decide when to launch projects according to the ability of the teams to cope with the workload. The need, therefore, came down to the necessity to professionalise project management.

A lack of project management methodology

The project management skills within the teams were very mixed. Few standards in project management lead to silo management and difficult decision-making since the information provided concerning project scoping is diverse or incomplete.

No overview of resource planning

“We had a tool to see the past workload but we didn’t have an overview of the workload to be scheduled. We couldn’t manage to define and anticipate the workload in relation to the projects to be completed. We tended to accept all projects despite the warnings from the teams: We aren’t sure but it will be fine!” 

This resulted in inevitable issues:

The aims of implementing a resource planning and project management tool

The need, therefore, came down to the necessity to professionalise project management: project scoping and process to select the projects to validate, portfolio management, leading the community and tools.

Define a certain number of standards in project management

Facilitate project managers’ work

Define workload issues

Current use of Project Monitor, the project portfolio management software

89 users

  • 3 administrators
  • 26 project managers
  • 56 contributors
  • 4 viewers

Distribution per department:

  • 44 users in the ISD
  • 11 contracting authority assistant users
  • 23 users in the other internal teams
  • 11 external users

57 projects

  • 50% Strategic projects
  • 45% Maintaining in good working order/Run activities
  • 5% other projects

(% of the declared time)

Project Monitor resource planning is used at three levels at Heppner:

Project

  • The project manager defines the target and assigns the workload to the contributors
  • The contributors adjust their remaining work
  • The contributors enter the time spent
  • The project manager manages the use of the project workload

“Remember to send a reminder at the start of the month to those who have not completed their time entry.” 

Each resource has a personal timesheet to post the time spent on projects. Project Monitor makes time entry easy! You can create timesheets automatically pre-filled with planned activities. 👉

project portfolio management software

Management

  • The manager monitors the planned workload of their teams and warns them if there is a problem
  • The manager reminds their teams to complete their timesheets
  • The manager can analyse the past workload each month (completed vs. planned)

“I advise you not to go into too much detail in planning. Entering times for sub-sub-tasks is not necessarily useful for workload management. At the end of the day, micro-details are more complicated to adjust the target and reporting.” 

Project Monitor enables you to organise your workload plan according to resource capacity for better assignment of recurring activities. Capacity planning gives an ergonomic vision of over-used and available resources 👉

capacity planning project portfolio management software

Reporting and decision-making

  • The consumed and planned workload is regularly shared in the Project Portfolio Review
  • A quarterly planning exercise for the medium-term workload ensures that everything is under control and allows decisions to be made if necessary

“The project portfolio review is a meeting held every six weeks attended by the General Manager, the Information Systems Manager and the Operations Manager to review the strategic projects. We review the progress of the projects, the new projects to be validated and the workload volume per project. This also highlights the ratio between the % of strategic projects and the % maintaining in good working order to plan the actions needed to balance them.”

The time spent on the project allows for reflection on the positive and negative takeaways from ongoing or nearly completed projects. The information is visible in dashboards 👉

project portfolio management software Reporting and decision-making

Example of resource planning by typology

“Keep an eye on the ratio between maintaining in good working order and strategic projects. Availability to perform the work needs to be maintained in order to ensure the maintenance of the information system equipment and therefore perhaps be more selective concerning the projects. Analysing the workloads enables over-use to be estimated and thus review the projects that were planned: Does a project need to be shifted? Do external operations need to be planned? Do we need to recruit? Project Monitor is a software solution which helps us to have an overview of resource planning, and also more widely to analyse the ROI on the time spent and better structure our strategic projects” 

To take things further… How Heppner is going to optimise its resource management

Questions/Answers

How do you convince employees to adopt time monitoring?

The tool shows the actual workload and allows over-use to be avoided. Time entry and planning must not be seen as policing. The aim is to show the volume per project in order to make better decisions. This angle is fairly well received.

How are strategic projects differentiated from other projects?

We have defined a project typology with tags. We thus have three types of project: strategic projects, other projects and maintaining in good working order. We also have forms for scoping notes and project monitoring dedicated to strategic projects.

How have you supported your teams to validate a target workload for the project?

We provide support particularly for project scoping, with the elements to be taken into account during its creation. We worked on the project scoping template with a form. In particular, know what type of profile is required on the project (generic profiles).

Project Monitor, project portfolio & resource management software

Align the planning with the capacities and availabilities of the resources

  • Time monitoring
  • Workload plan
  • Comparison of time planned/spent
  • Reports and dashboards
  • Project portfolio review
software ppm projec monitor

The basics of Project Monitor resource planning

How do you develop a workload plan?

The capacity planning is used to view the capacity with regard to the workloads already established. It is possible to focus on resources, projects and a particular period. The first step consists in entering the target workloads, i.e. to say in principle how long the resource will spend on this phase of the project. Then the target workload will stretch over the entire duration of the phase or project. A colour code helps you to easily see if the resource is over-used (red) over the coming month, week or even day.

How do you known how long is spent per project?

To know the time spent per project, simply view the completed workload. This data can be seen per resource, per project, per phase or per project portfolio.

How do you enter the time spent per project?

Each user of the application can enter their time spent on the projects or activities per hour or per day.