What Is Resource Allocation in Project Management?

The problem of scarce resources is every project's unsaid reality. In fact, many organizations do not engage in effective resource management–a big mistake. According to a PMI survey, only 26% of companies use resource management to estimate and allocate resources, and only 36% of them do it often.

Needless to say, not assessing your project resources accurately can negatively impact your output and delay your project. The PMI study also claims that inadequate resource forecasting, resource dependencies, and limited resources are some of the primary reasons for project failure. So it makes logical and business sense to understand how you can complete the project?with on-point resource utilization.?Let's get started.

What is Resource Allocation in Project Management?

First things first, let's understand the role resource allocation plays in the process of project management. Here are a few of its defining characteristics to keep in mind:

  • Effective resource allocation: It enables effective and economic assigning of available resources based on task dependencies.
  • Optimized allocation: It helps in analyzing the project timeline so that you can allocate resources within the project schedule.
  • Maximized resource utility: It helps you to choose the best resources basis the project scope?so that you can avoid under or overutilization of your assets–be it employees, equipment, materials, supplies, and so on.
  • Increased resource visibility: It empowers the project manager to manage and delegate resources throughout a project so that the project plan runs seamlessly and successfully.
  • Greater agility and flexibility: It allows team members to course-correct and helps managers to re-assign the resources required?if the project demands change.?

Now that you have a good foundational understanding of what resource management is and why a project requires resource allocation, let's deep-dive and understand the 'how' component.

Top-11 Resource Allocation Tips and Hacks for Project Managers

In this section, we will look at how you can maximize the resource allocation process?and what are some of the tips and strategies you can use to create a killer resource allocation plan.

Tip 1: Understand the project scope.
This step involves understanding whether your project is big or small and whether it is long or short? It also includes understanding the objective, requirements, deliverables, and tasks required for your project so that it can be completed on time and within the stipulated budget. The more accurate and detailed your project scope, the better your resource allocation will be.

Tip 2: Identify the most ideal resources.
Once your project scope is ready, you will need to zero in on the resources needed for the project from the available talent pool. Make sure to account for the following criteria when allocating resources and keep in mind your budget and time period when doing so:

  • Which of your team members are currently available for the project?
  • What equipment will they need to complete the project? In other words, will you need to purchase new equipment?
  • Do you have the space available to perform the tasks, or will you need to buy/rent it?

Tip 3: Be proactive.
Your project plan is bound to change many times. This is why you need to create a resource plan, monitor it regularly, and note the potential red-flag issues and risks (think: do you have a blocked team member who might need later on? Is there a task dependency that depends on a blocked team member?) so that you can course-correct with great ease. Note that other potential risks include client reviews, competing projects, unexpected delays, personal emergencies, and so on.

Tip 4: Keep an eye out on the ground field and think of project progress from a holistic point of view.
Working in silos without cross-checking your project's on-ground progress can hamper its success. This includes understanding factors in real-time such as the following:

  • Are you aware of the state of your resources and their schedule in real-time?
  • Is there a specific duration for the lease of the site and equipment?
  • Are you looking at the project progress as a whole and capturing the right metrics for growth and success?

Tip 5: Understand your resource dependencies.
It is critical that you understand your resource dependencies. One of the most surefooted ways to do this is by having a contingency plan in case you are running short on resources or have team members previously booked for other engagements.

Tip 6: Monitor the time period and keep track of your time logs.
You need to focus on improving your time tracking skills if you wish to make the most of your resource allocation plan. It also helps to better manage your team's workload. So make sure to use the right time tracking tools to gather real-time data and plan accordingly.

Tip 7: Use project management tools.
You can make your work easier by using project management tools that aid in optimal resource allocation. Plus, these tools can help you to:

  • Easily re-allocate resources at the click of a button.
  • View your resources in a centralized calendar–one which is color-coded to help you understand whether the resources are on- or off-task, on vacation or sick, etc.
  • Leverage useful features such as scheduling, real-time dashboards, team management tools, among others, to make the most out of your resource allocation plan.

Tip 8: Say no to over-allocation.
Project managers end up over-allocating their resources which can lead to team burnout and project delays. To prevent this, you'll need to keep re-assessing your resource plan and allocate resources in an even and fair manner.

Tip 9: Stick to a routine.
When it comes to resource management, there needs to be a clear structure in place. First, you plan. Then, you implement. And finally, you monitor and test for efficacy. At every stage of resource planning, make sure to engage in regular check-ins with your team members. You can also drive one-on-ones with them to understand what the ground reality looks like. Keep a tab on your resources, re-assess your PM tools, and ensure that no one is overworked or underworked, for that matter.

Tip 10: Do your homework on your resources.
One of the most important-yet-ignored strategies is not knowing who your resources are, what their experiences are like, what kind of skills and expertise do they demonstrate, and so on. In short, you should create a profile of each team member and use the collected data to allocate resources optimally.

Tip 11: Create and use holistic resource reports.
Up-to-date resource reports can act as the bread and butter of your resource plan–they provide a complete view of the resource status as well as the team's workload and can help you balance your resources effectively.
So there you go. Those were some of the most important resource allocation strategies to keep in mind when devising a fool-proof resource allocation plan.?

Closing Thoughts

Every?project manager wants to make the most of the available resources–understandably so. This is where effective resource allocation can lend a helping hand. Follow the tips outlined above and boost your project success record, while ensuring employee as well client satisfaction–a win-win-win for all!