What are resources? They’re everything you need for a project. That includes people, places and things.
In other words, resources are essential. Dealing with them and coordinating their use is one of the main hurdles that project managers have to clear if they’re going to cross that project finish line.
Resources will plug into every phase of your project. They’re part of the planning, scheduling and executing of the project. A sound methodology is required in order to have the resources you need when you need them. You know where this is going. Yes, resource scheduling.
It’s hard to pinpoint the most important aspect of project management. Everything feels essential. But there are definitely some pillars that hold up the project and carry more weight than others. Resource scheduling is one. We have a few tips that will help you manage your resources better.
What Is Resource Scheduling?
Before we jump ahead, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page and define resource scheduling. Resource scheduling is the identification and coordination of your resources, and is perhaps the most important aspect of resource management.
Resource scheduling involves the scheduling of start and end dates for each task in the project based on the resources needed and their availability. Balancing the availability of resources with the work capacity of teams is how to keep a project on schedule. Resource scheduling gives project managers a tool to set the duration for their team’s tasks.
By allocating and scheduling resources based on resource capacity, availability, effort and scope, projects can avoid under- and over-allocation. This leads to not only getting projects done on time and within budget, but it also builds morale, fosters better relationships, helps with profitability and boosts stakeholder satisfaction.
Benefits of Resource Scheduling
With resource scheduling comes superior organization for projects, teams, sites, equipment and any other resource associated with the project. All this sets the stage for an intelligent distribution of resources among your project tasks.
That includes identifying resources for each task, what their availability is and then matching those resources with capability. That is, who on your team is best suited for executing the task.
With this information, resource scheduling also makes for better time estimates, as it provides one more metric by which to measure your project schedule. It relies on reports and analysis of past project resource scheduling and other similar projects for information.
Planning also benefits from resource scheduling, which helps to plan for the future by figuring out capacity and demand. The better you do this, the better your team will feel when working on the project. That’s because smart capacity planning will prevent over-allocation. They’ll trust project managers, which leads to greater employee retention and productivity.
7 Tips for Great Resource Scheduling
1. Use a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
You can’t start to schedule your resources until you know how many you’ll need and when you’ll use them. This involves collecting every task that leads to your final deliverable. It might seem a daunting task, but using a WBS makes sure you don’t neglect any steps. It’s a tree diagram with your final deliverable on top and beneath that, the various branches that lead to it. The more complete your list, the more accurate your resource schedule.
2. Try Resource Smoothing
Once you have all the steps, there are many ways to schedule resources. One technique is resource smoothing, which focuses on the time constraint over all others. Here, the deadline is king. This practice is best applied when things must be done on time, even if it means delaying some work. While it removes some flexibility in your schedule, it tends to make scheduling more efficient and cost-effective.
3. Practice Resource Leveling
Another resource optimization technique to use is called resource leveling. This is used when you have enough resources on hand to complete the project. It then distributes the resources over the work evenly.
This helps to improve morale and makes the schedule both realistic and achievable. That might happen by shortening or loosening the schedule, the deadline might even change, but that’s okay because you’re not adding capacity.
4. Be Aware of Constraints
There are constraints on any project, such as the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. All of these forces are working on your resources, so the better you can define how they’ll be impacting the tasks in the previous tip, the tighter your resource schedule will be.
5. Know How Many Resources You Need
Again, going back to your task list, make a determination as to how many resources each task will require.
What type of resource is it? How many of each will be required to finish the task? This figure can be numerical, as in the quantity needed, but it can also be expressed in time. You might need the resource for an hour or weeks. This all should be noted.
6. Control Availability of Resources
You want to control the future availability of resources. To do this requires knowing how much capacity your have. That is, for example, how much work your team can accomplish over a specific timeframe.
Do team members have time off scheduled over that period? Are there holidays? The more data around the availability of your resources, the more you can manage the schedule for your resources.
7. Assign Your Resources Wisely
The final tip applies to assigning your resources after you’ve listed tasks, identified constraints, know how many resources you’ll need and their availability. At this point, you have the information necessary to build a resource schedule that can avoid costly bottlenecks.
Therefore, assign with care. Depending on your resources, demand and capacity, due dates might need to change or even be delayed. A resource schedule can work better than tea leaves in divining your project’s future.
ProjectManager Can Schedule Your Resources
ProjectManager has a wealth of features to help you better manage and control your resource schedule. After you’ve created a task list, you can easily import the spreadsheet into our software and create a new project.
This opens up a Gantt chart with the tasks listed on the left. Add a start and end date to create the duration of the task, and a timeline will appear on the right.
Assign Tasks & Resources with the Gantt
Assignments can be made right from the Gantt chart, and task dependencies can be linked to reduce resource scarcities. As you create assignments, team member availability is updated in real time, so you always know which resources are available.
You can also track resources by categorizing them as teams or equipment. By adding hourly rates to these resources you can also track their costs. As hours are logged on tasks, those costs are automatically updated and compared to your plan, so you can immediately see if you’re going off-track.
The Workload Page Tracks Availability & Schedules
In terms of availability, ProjectManager lets you block out working days, holidays and planned hours. This is especially helpful when you’re managing distributed teams in different countries, with different time zones and holidays.
To further balance your team’s tasks, we have a workload page that gives you visibility into how much each team member is assigned. Their workload is color-coded, so you can quickly see if there are any imbalances. If there are, simply reassign tasks from the workload page.
Real-Time Tracking with Dashboards
Because our software is cloud-based, it updates in real time. This makes our Team feature especially useful, which lets you track what your team is doing on a daily or weekly basis. Easily track task progress, who’s assigned to what and what each team is working on. If something needs to be reassigned, it only takes a few clicks.
ProjectManager is a cloud-based software that schedules resources and keeps them on track. The real-time dashboard follows six project metrics to monitor progress and one-click reporting goes deeper into variance, tasks and more. We even have timesheets that automatically update as your teams complete their tasks. Control your resources and keep them on schedule with this free 30-day trial of ProjectManager.