Resource Allocation in Project Management

Resource allocation is the process of dividing up available resources amongst project tasks to maximize productivity, adherence to strategy, and ability to meet financial and customer expectations. It involves assessing and matching skilled resources with project requirements and using reliable resource planning tools.

It’s an ever-evolving activity that reflects team availability and capabilities. But it’s a crucial component of successful project completion.

Identifying Resources

Project resources include people, equipment and cash. Identifying project resources is a key step in completing a project on time and budget. This includes determining project requirements, creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and making estimates for how long each task will take.

Dependencies are common in projects, so a delay on one task will have an impact on others. This is why it is critical to understand the impact of resource dependencies and make contingency plans.

A key technique is resource leveling, which aims to balance workload and reduce both over-allocations and shortages of resources. This requires forecasting resource demand by time period into the future, and then determining how much of each type of resource is required, and when they will be available.

Using Polaris PSA, you can see all your resources across your global organization and their current and upcoming allocation levels, including departments, location, skills, etc. This will help you to recognize incoming demand from sales opportunities, start conversations early with stakeholders, and ensure that you have the right team to deliver a quality project on time and within budget.

Identifying Tasks

Identifying tasks is a critical component of resource allocation. Without it, you risk running into project delays and budget overruns. You also run the risk of overworking your team members, which can cause them to become burned out. And that can have a negative effect on your company culture.

To identify the tasks that need to be done for each project, start with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This framework is a reliable way to break down a project’s scope into its deliverables and their associated time estimates.

Once you have a clear idea of the project tasks, use resource management software to allocate resources to them. Then, you can see their availability and rates in real-time. For example, if you allocate a resource to 40 hours of work on a project over two weeks, NetSuite automatically levels that number by the resource’s designated work hours per day for the period. This ensures the project can be completed on time and within budget.

Allocating Resources

Project resources include people, tools, budgets, materials, and any other assets that help you deliver your projects on time. Managing project resources effectively ensures that you have the right amount of each to hit your deliverables on time and within budget.

The wrong amount of resources can cause roadblocks in your project. For example, if you allocate too many team members to a single task, they will burn out and become frustrated. Similarly, if you don’t allocate enough resources, the work will be subpar and may cause delay in delivery.

A resource allocation plan can only be as effective as your team’s understanding of it. So it’s important to communicate clearly with your team about the workload and expectations. Also, be prepared to reallocate resources as necessary. For example, a team member might go on vacation, or another project’s scope may change. Keep an eye on progress to make any needed adjustments.

Managing Resources

Managing resources is a dynamic process, one that needs to be continually adjusted as the project progresses. Scope changes, team member availability, unexpected events—like a resource calling in sick or a supplier not delivering on time—all need to be factored in.

Whether it’s humans, equipment, materials or other schedulable assets, you can use the Resource Allocation subtab to create and manage allocations. A resource may be assigned to multiple projects, and you can specify whether the allocations are hard or soft (assigning a specific number of hours or a percentage of time).

It’s important not to overwork your teams; 26% of employees say they feel overbooked, which can lead to higher stress levels, lower productivity, and burnout. If you allocate a resource for too many project tasks, it’s best to adjust by assigning additional project tasks to the resource or deprioritizing some projects until the resource is free again. Using the right tools, it’s easy to see when you’re overbooking your team members or aren’t utilizing all of their skill sets.