Efficient Resource Allocation: Useful Tips
Assigning the right resources to the right tasks at the right time is the basic prerequisite for successful project work and excellent project and business outcomes. But in a great number of cases, it’s easier said than done. What are possible challenges you can come across in the resource allocation process? And how to ensure its efficiency? Let’s figure these issues out in the article.
What is resource allocation, and why is it important?
Resource allocation is the process of assigning team members to project tasks in accordance with their competences, capacity, and availability. It can also refer to the distribution of material resources (facilities, equipment, tools) across project tasks if they are required for project completion. Speaking about human resources, they are allocated efficiently when they are productive but at the same time aren’t overworked. Here are the other benefits of efficient resource allocation.
- Optimization of employees’ workload thanks to taking their capacity and availability into account. It also reduces the risks of their inefficiency as a result of imbalanced workload.
- Boosting team members’ productivity: people who work on assignments that correspond to their competences and capacity can deliver much better results.
- Optimization of project costs: there are less chances for unplanned hiring expenses. What is more, people who work at their available capacity can increase a company’s revenue.
To make resource allocation maximum efficient and take advantage of it to the full, resource managers can leverage the potential of resource management software. We’ll consider its contribution later in the article. As we’ve mentioned earlier, resource allocation can be rather challenging. Let’s examine the most significant roadblocks in this process.
Resource allocation challenges
The following factors become hurdles for successful resource allocation.
A lack of control over changing requirements
Too many changes to the project scope and/or a lack of control over them have a negative impact on the project workflow in general and resource allocation process in particular. For example, changes can result in extending the scope of a project, adding more tasks, which can lead to over allocation of resources – they will be given more work than their actual capacity is.
This is especially relevant for business organizations that manage multiple projects simultaneously. In such an environment, one team member can be required for several projects at the same time, which makes proper resource allocation next to impossible.
Uneven workload distribution
As a result of resource allocation, it may turn out that some team members are heavily overloaded during a certain period, and others are idle while waiting for further assignments. Such resource allocation cannot be effective, as in both cases, the team members will be inefficient.
In some organizations, resource allocation decisions can be affected by workplace politics. For example, employees can be assigned to the projects that have lower priority, but serve the interests of influential people in a company. As a result, more important projects will be understaffed.
Poor visibility of data on employees’ skills, capacity, and availability
To make effective resource allocation decisions, a resource manager should have quick and easy access to up-to-date information regarding each team member’s competences, capacity, and availability. In large multi-project organizations or those that use spreadsheets to store this information, finding the required employee quickly is extremely challenging.
In addition to the uncertain business environment, uncertainty inevitably affects the resource allocation process: for example, you never know beforehand whether a critical employee falls ill and becomes unavailable and whether you’ll be able to substitute him or her quickly enough.
Tips for efficient resource allocation
The recommendations below will help you allocate resources efficiently and be prepared for possible risks and uncertainty.
Plan your resources’ capacity
Resource capacity planning helps ensure that there are enough people to staff all the current and upcoming projects. If there’s a gap between the resource demand and available employees, you should choose the most appropriate way to bridge this gap: hire or outsource employees, retrain the existing ones, apply resource optimization techniques, or postpone this project for later. If this is done before a project starts, the chances for efficient resource allocation will increase.
Facilitate reskilling and upskilling
The demand for particular skills is changing these days – some of them become redundant due to automation, while others become highly demanded. This fact highlights the need for regular competence management. Also, if employees have diverse skills, they can be assigned to a wider variety of tasks and become interchangeable in some situations, which is especially relevant for a multi-project environment with a limited number of resources. Therefore, investing in employees’ professional development will provide a resource manager with wider resource allocation opportunities.
Apply resource leveling if necessary
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, “resource leveling is a technique in which start and finish dates are adjusted based on resource constraints with the goal of balancing demand for resources with the available supply.” In other words, when you have resource conflicts, you can adjust the project timeline in accordance with the availability of a required employee. Resource leveling helps optimize the resource allocation process and prevent employees from overwork.
Utilize the potential of resource management software
Modern resource management tools make it much easier to juggle a company’s resources. Let’s explore how they facilitate efficient resource allocation through the example of Epicflow, a resource management solution designed for work in a multi-project environment.
Prioritizing tasks across all projects
It’s impossible to allocate resources properly to multiple projects without knowing what tasks must be completed first. Epicflow solves this problem with automatic prioritization of tasks across all projects based on the existing constraints and dependencies between projects.
Facilitating informed resource allocation
To reduce uncertainty when assigning resources to project tasks, you can run simulations before making a decision. In Epicflow’s What-if Analysis mode, you can change different parameters and analyze the impact of these changes on the project environment. Having reviewed possible outcomes, you can make more efficient resource allocation decisions.
Tapping into all the data on employees’ skills, capacity, and availability
Making the right resource allocation decisions is impossible without relevant data on employees’ skills, capacity, and availability. With Epicflow, this information is always at your fingertips so that you can find a perfectly matching resource for completing a project task quickly and easily. What is more, thanks to the integration with human resource management systems, the data on capacity and availability is always relevant. These were just some of the examples of Epicflow’s resource management functionality and its contribution to increasing the efficiency of resource allocation. And how do you ensure resource allocation efficiency?