Businesses and agencies use resources to provide services to their clients. Resources, be it equipment or people, are limited and the project manager needs to allocate these to ensure that the resource utilization is optimal to complete all the projects and to achieve set goals.
What Is Resource Allocation?
Project managers develop plans to get the most out of available resources. They want to complete the projects on time and within the budget. Managers must assign the right resource to the right task, and also make sure that none of the resources is being overworked or wasted. This is known as resource allocation.
Allocating the resources correctly and on time is not always simple. This process is both a science and an art and involves a lot of juggling and planning.
Resource allocation involves:
- Tracking the available resources
- Matching the right skill set (or the right person) to each task
- Assigning the best team to keep each project on track
- Making the best use of the team’s time
- Utilizing the resources optimally across various projects
- Monitoring the workloads to ensure no resource is overworked or underutilized
- Reassigning resources periodically to meet changing resource availability and project demands
- Managing all resources to support the set goals of the projects
How Can Resources Be Allocated Optimally?
Following a resource allocation process will ensure that your resources are utilized smartly. The steps to follow are:
- Create a map for each project – list individual tasks needed to complete the project, task dependencies, project due date, individual task due dates, skills required for each task.
- List skill sets of resources – check to see if skills required are available in-house or need to be hired. Check on gaps in skills of resources.
- Check on availability of the required resources – ensure that there is no clash in resource utilization with other projects.
- Be prepared to reallocate resources – project management is a dynamic process. Managers need to be flexible about reassigning resources and shifting timelines as project requirements change.
- Ensure there is no overload on resources – hire additional staff if needed.
- Review project after completion – how were resources utilized, how much time various tasks took, did the agency have all the required skill-sets, etc. Such data helps in future resource planning.
Benefits of Resource Allocation
Proper allocation is imperative for the efficient and effective running of the agency. And it is the top priority for every business, as it should be! Let’s look at the pluses of proper resource allocation:
- It maximizes resource utilization – Project managers can make sure no resources are over-or over under-worked, and there’s a balance in the workload of each team member.
- It prevents conflicts amongst projects – If resources are properly allocated across projects, there will be no schedule clashes.
- It empowers the team – When each member is aware of the progress of the project, it motivates him or her to complete assigned tasks on time.
- It improves customer satisfaction – Clients are happy when projects are delivered efficiently and on time.
- It can prevent burnout and employee turnover – Each team member has a balanced workload and is not overworked or underutilized. With realistic deadlines employees are not stressed. They enjoy job satisfaction and have high morale.
- It saves money in the long run – Efficient resource utilization reduces wastage and increases profitability.
Resource Allocation Challenges Faced by Agencies
The foremost business goal of any agency is to deliver projects on time and within budget. And for any project to be delivered successfully, the most important resources, viz the people, needs to be utilized optimally. Without optimizing resource allocation project managers are bound to face several hiccups and challenges during the life of any project.
- Change in the scope of the project – The project may expand and may turn out to be bigger than the managers imagined initially. More resources may be needed to meet the new demands.
- Poor capacity planning of the talent pool – Capacity refers to the resources available for specific tasks. If the manager doesn’t know if the agency has sufficient capacity (i.e., resources with the right skills) to fulfil its project commitments, he may end up overloading the existing human resources to meet these.
- Resources are not utilized optimally or assigned consistently – Resources may be working on low priority tasks if systematic resource planning is not adopted. Managers should be able to monitor if a resource is doing tasks matching his or her skills. Tasks must be prioritized and resources allocated accordingly.
- No flexibility in changing deadlines – Timelines may need to be adjusted as the project progresses. If deadlines are unrealistic, employees will be overworked and their performance will fall. They will be stressed and have low morale. Productivity will fall and projects will be delayed.
- Inability to reassign resources – As new tasks come up or an additional project is taken up, managers should be able to move resources around to meet the new demands.
- High employee turnover – Poor resource planning will lead to employees mentally burning-out. Unhappy employees will be lacklustre in their jobs and will be more likely to look for newer options elsewhere.
- Inadequate information on resource availability – This can lead to the same resource being assigned to multiple projects and there will be a conflict on which task to prioritize.
- An insufficient transition period for shared resources – Without correct allocation resources may find themselves hopping from project to project. This can adversely affect productivity.
- Projects going off-track – Tasks can get delayed for any number of reasons, like staff falling sick, breakdown of machinery, etc. Such setbacks can halt or slow down the project. Missed deadlines or derailed projects have a direct impact on an agency’s effectiveness and bottom line. Resource risks must be assessed properly.
- Lack of communication – Team members, especially those working remotely, may not be aware of the progress of the other tasks in the projects due to a lack of transparency. Delay in one task can delay all other dependent tasks. This can lead to frustration and poor or under-performance. Communication and coordination amongst all team members and other stakeholders working across time zones can make or break a project.
- Poor documentation of resource utilization – Resource utilization and allocation for projects need to be accurately documented. This helps managers track if the project is on schedule and within budget. Manual record-keeping can lead to major errors.
Overcoming These Challenges with A Resource Allocation Software
Whilst these challenges seem daunting, resource planning software can ease the resource allocation process and help managers deal with these issues efficiently.
- Managers can get a clear view of the workload of each resource. They can stay on top of team members’ schedules and reassign them to avoid double-booking or overloading.
- With resource utilization rates being tracked, it is easy to check on resource availability, and also to ensure that no resource sits idle.
- The calendar feature ensures that there are no schedule clashes amongst various tasks and projects. Managers can block time slots of resources for various projects and prioritize tasks. Resources can be moved or reallocated to meet dynamic project requirements. Managers can ensure a balance in the workload of resources, and avoid over-or under-working anyone.
- Potential delays can be flagged and resolved before they turn into bottlenecks. Project timelines can be easily readjusted, helping keep projects on track.
- If a resource needs to be replaced or added, availability within the agency’s talent pool can be checked. Future recruitment needs become clear and managers know when to hire more resources.
- Team performance can be monitored to ensure that the project is on track. Managers can reallocate resources from non-priority to more urgent tasks.
- Routine tasks like tracking budgets can be automated, thus freeing project managers to focus on the progress of the project.
- Communication amongst team members is easy and quick. There is transparency and everyone on the team can be up-to-date on the progress of the project.
eResource Scheduler – An Award-winning Resource Planning Software
The dashboard or the resource planner tool of resource planning software like the eResource Scheduler shows managers how resources are being utilized and if the project is on track. This has a direct impact on the agency’s profitability by helping managers ensure that there is no overspending on resources that are not needed while completing projects within the pre-determined time frame. Project managers can allocate resources and mark schedules via the calendar. This bird’s eye view makes it easy to keep track of resource utilization and project progress status.