Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Winter 2012


Timothy Anderson

Course Title

Operations Research

Course Number

ETM 540/640


Operations research, Labor demand -- Estimation, Employees -- Workload -- Forecasting, Manpower planning -- Mathematical models


Businesses need to estimate the workforce requirements based on predicted future workloads. A typical company will have many projects which are either already in process or predicted to start within a 1 to 2 year window. For the class project a specific company was used as a case study. The number of projects being evaluated in this company was over one hundred and fifty. With this many projects its easy to understand why forecasting resource needs with variation in start date, duration and effort is no simple task.

The company has an existing spreadsheet model which it uses for resource calculation. The existing spreadsheet captures historical resource usage information up to the current month, but it was lacking in its ability to project future resource needs based on project variation from a fixed plan. To improve on this existing model uncertainty variables were added to:

  • The individual project start dates,
  • project durations and
  • work for each labor code or Estimate To Complete (ETC.)

This allows the program office to simulate different scenarios for labor needs in the future. The project uses Monte Carlo simulations based on the user input to generate the forecasted labor needs. The goals of this project included:

  1. Giving the program office a simulation environment to game different project scenarios with minimal effort. For example if the program office wanted to determine the company wide resource implications of a specific project(s) ending later then expected.
  2. Giving the program office a range over which resource needs could vary per labor code as input to their current process for resource needs calculation. This range could be used by the program ffice to better estimate overall need. It can be used as justification for the anticipated resource levels that are reported to executive staff.


This project is only available to students, staff, and faculty of Portland State University

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