By Amanda Athuraliya
In project planning, resource allocation is considered tricky; trickier than meeting the much dreaded due dates. If the resources, which are limited, are not allocated properly, the chances are that the completion of individual tasks under the main project will get delayed, if not disrupted entirely. As the initial stage of project management, which paves way for achieving project objectives, resource allocation therefore, needs to be prioritized and done right.
But first, let’s figure out what exactly resource allocation is. It is the art and science of assigning available resources to various uses. In project management, this refers to setting aside and distributing resources in the company (equipment, people, funding, facilities etc.) in order to complete the project related tasks.
So, how careful should you be when allocating these resources in the company? The answer is very careful! Now don’t worry, these resource allocation tips will help you do everything just right.
1. Determine the Project Scope
It could be a project that can be completed in few days or few years; either way you need to define the scope of the project before you ever move on to allocating resources. The project scope tells you the kind of tasks and the amount of resources that should go into reaching the project goal.
Therefore, forming a clear idea as to what the project scope is the first step towards proper resource allocation.
2. Identify the Resources You Need
After determining the project scope, you can get a sensible grasp on the main objectives, tasks, resources, deadlines, deliverables etc. of the project. Now that you know which resources are necessary to complete each task, take a long look at the company’s inventory of resources. This will help you identify:
- Who is currently available to take on the project (make sure that you use an org chart for this one; check out the next step to see how to do this).
- Whether the equipment (laptops, machinery etc.) required is already available or need to be purchased.
- Which venues will be occupied and which will be available.
A detailed list of both human and non-human resources will then help you move on to the next.
3. Evaluate the Human Resources
You are going to need an organizational chart for this one. What is an organizational chart, you ask? It’s a chart that lets you get an idea of the employees’ titles and responsibilities. And you can add more details to the chart; for example you can add details about the projects each employee has worked on previously or currently working on.
In human resource allocation, a chart like this could be of much value, for one look at it will help you identify who is suitable to take charge of the tasks and sub tasks.
Note: A digital organizational chart that can be created with an online org chart maker can help you quickly update the chart as you gather information on each employee.
4. Determine Which Project Should be Prioritized
If you are the kind of company that focuses on one project at a time then you only have to focus on one. That’s great! But if you are the kind of company that juggles several projects simultaneously with multiple teams, then you must prioritize the projects.
There are time sensitive projects, and they should be prioritized without a second thought, and those that could wait should come next. Hence, when you are allocating resources for multiple projects, make sure to allocate more resources to projects that are of high priority so you can complete them sooner.
Hint: Assign the most experienced members to such projects for they would be able to get the project completed faster.
Also keep in mind not to neglect any project because it is not of high priority. You need to balance it out as you allocate resources, so that each project sees some progress every day.
5. Draft a Resource Allocation Plan
A resource allocation plan should include all the information we have discussed above; a list of resources (both human and non-human resources), when each resource is required to be used and the task or tasks it is used to complete.
It is important to remember to list human and non-human resources separately. Under each individual, her responsibilities, her skills and the date she is expected to start the task as well as the date she should complete it by, needs to be stated.
Under each tool, its specifications, its purpose and the date it needs to be utilized as well as the date it should be returned need to be mentioned.
Don’t forget to review the resource allocation plan frequently to avoid any project risks!
Hint: You can easily draft this resource allocation plan using a Google Spreadsheet.
6. Prepare for Emergencies
The most important resources in a project are human and they tend to get sick, stress out, leave or get married! Likewise the equipment available could also be limited or break halfway through the tasks, which may pose a challenge to the completion of projects. And you need to be prepared to encounter and handle such situations. This is where resource leveling, which is basically about allocating resources efficiently (that is not to either over-allocate or under-allocate available resources), can help you out.
As already mentioned above, when there are multiple projects, you need to prioritize the most time sensitive ones; this means using up all resources that are available to complete them. Then, the projects that are of secondary importance, can be extended for over a period of time until the resources become available again.
This way if a team member decides to get married during an important stage of the prioritized project, one (who must be experienced in the same area of work!) from the other less time sensitive projects could replace him.
7. Make Sure the Team Knows What You Are Up To
So you are the project manager, the team leader, the boss. Everybody knows it; but that doesn’t mean you can go ahead and allocate resources (although they work under you and you pay them for that!) as it pleases you. The thing is, it needs to please the resources at your disposal as well.
Once you select the skilled person for the task, sit her down and speak to her; ask her what she is currently working on even though you might already know it and let her know about the upcoming project you need her to work on and learn how long it would take her to finish it. Also it is important to ask which equipment she would need and ensure that she receives them on time.
Letting the team in on your resource allocation plan thus, is a good way to make sure that no issue arises when the project is already underway. It will help you plan the project and allocate resources better.
Resource allocation can be challenging whether it is a small business or a large corporation, which is why proper planning is crucial. And don’t forget to incorporate your team’s input when mapping out your plan as well. A comprehensive plan, which you can come up with if you carefully follow the tips above, will help you face, if not avoid all together, any challenge that could pop up, like a total boss!
Let us know any other resource allocation methods you use at your own company.