EU Research Arcana: understanding PMs


This could be the start of a sustained effort to make implicit knowledge about EU research explicit, and accessible to all. For now I start with this one issue.

Full time-equivalent Person Months, abbreviated in PMs, are a unit of human effort. Saying that doing something requires an effort of 1 PM means that one person can do it in a month of full time work. The amount of PMs is calculated as

units_of_time_worked x number_of_people_working

Notice that PM is not measured in persons/month, but in persons x month.

For example, imagine that a certain task requires three people who work two days a week for 10 months. The number of PMs required is:

3 x (2/5) x 10 = 12

three people, working 2 out of every 5 days, for 10 months.

The European Commission considers that there are 1,720 productive hours in a year (source). Therefore, 1 PM = 1,720/12 = 143.33 hours.

In EU research, partners need to budget both in human effort and in money. To do that, each partner is required to indicate their average cost of labor. In the example above, if you imagine that the full cost of a PM is 5,000 EUR, that task will require 12 x 5,000 = 60,000 EUR.

In Edgeryders, we prefer to attribute the same PM cost (6,000 EUR) to everyone, making exceptions only for the most junior people.


Do you know how many hours the EU considers a “full time” working day? In Germany its considered to be 40h/week -> 8h/day, but I believe that e.g. in France its a different numner.


Good question, @felix.wolfsteller. The Commission thinks in slightly different terms, “productive hours per year”. I updated my post and made it a wiki for future modifs.