Workload management is a critical part of executing any project; projects are executed by people and as a project manager, you must ensure that your team’s workload is balanced.
Project teams look to project managers to clarify what they should be doing and when, but they don’t want you hovering over their shoulders as they check off tasks in their project management software. It’s important to strike a balance between controlling your team’s tasks and giving them room to work.
What Is Workload Management?
Workload management is the process of assigning tasks to keep the team working while monitoring their progress over the course of the project. It provides a framework of what tasks need to be done and who on the team is supposed to be working on those tasks.
ProjectManager is project management software that’s equipped with workload management, task management and resource management tools to help you manage your team’s workload in minutes. Get started for free.
Why Is Workload Management Important?
Workload management is a way to keep your teams busy and productive. It’s a strategic way to distribute the work throughout your team to boost performance. However, managing workload isn’t only about efficient resource management but is also about reducing team stress, burnout and errors.
Workload management helps organizations deliver projects successfully. It’s also beneficial for capacity planning, resource utilization and employee performance among other positive business impacts.
How to Manage Your Team’s Workload
To manage your team’s workload, you’ll need to create a workload plan which entails understanding your resources and the business priorities or tasks to be completed.
From there, you can use a project calendar or a resource management dashboard to assign resources to the execution of each task. Most project managers use project management software with workload management tools such as ProjectManager for the workload planning process.
What Is a Workload Plan?
A workload plan or workload management plan is simply a project calendar or dashboard that tracks an employee’s working hours on a timeline. A workload plan is used to determine resource utilization, calculate team capacity and track employee performance.
Workload plans can vary to show more or more minor detail, such as percent complete, deliverables, constraints and milestones. The more details, the more task management information you’ll have to better assign work to your team. ProjectManager’s workload chart, dashboard and task management tools are ideal to create a detailed workload plan.
Workload Management Steps
The workload management plan must be reviewed and revised continuously as the project moves forward and changes. This means you need to actively manage your team’s workload during the project execution, which brings us to the following five-step workload management process.
1. Review the Current Team Workload
If you’re a project manager starting to develop a workload management plan from scratch, you need to start by reviewing what’s currently happening. Perhaps this has been initiated by someone in the team saying they have too much work to do, or perhaps another team manager has called you to say that your team isn’t keeping on top of their work, is behind schedule or has missed a deadline.
Remember, you can only manage what you know. In a matrix structure, you might have some people who are only available to work on your tasks for a portion of their week, so be sure to get clarity on that.
The fastest way to find this information is to use task management, capacity planning, or resource management features from your project management software to show you who’s working on which tasks. In ProjectManager, you’ll find that on the workload management tab.
ProjectManager works as a workload planner and tracker thanks to its project workload and resource management tools. These tools let you see the number of assigned work hours to each team member. The box is green if the team member has a good number of hours; it’s orange if they are over or under-assigned.
In the same view, you can click the box and instantly reassign tasks to adjust the workload. This adjustment is automatically reflected in any project plans on the Gantt chart, the team workload dashboard and elsewhere in our project management tool.
2. Identify Over-Allocated Staff
Look for team members who are over-allocated or those who have been given more work than they can complete in the time available.
A good rule for work management is that employees should be allocated to specific tasks for only 80% of their time. The remaining 20% will be for answering phone calls, attending team meetings, dealing with customers who call with urgent problems and so on.
The 20% should be spread across the week to maximize productivity; it’s better to fill people’s time for, say 6 hours per day, than give them every Friday with nothing to do apart from catching up on the things they weren’t able to finish earlier in the week. Ideally, you’ll use a work management tool to help you keep track of your employees’ time.
3. Identify Under-Allocated Staff
You’re also looking at your resource reports and work management dashboards for employees who don’t have enough work to do. Keep your team motivated by ensuring they have meaningful tasks to fill each day.
In reality, your team members will always look busy. They’ll find things to work on, perhaps taking on tasks of their own accord or helping one of their colleagues. Your time management system will help you understand if they’re working on tasks that you deem to be their priority.
You can also pick up clues about whether your employees are over or under-allocated by speaking with them directly. They may ask for more work or point out that they can’t take on another assignment. This is where your professional judgment comes in: are they genuinely too busy or simply working on the wrong tasks?
A workload tracker gives you the information you need to help you answer these questions. The better you know the strengths and work patterns of your team, the easier it will be to figure out how to improve productivity and interpret what your timesheet system is telling you.
4. Account for Skills and Absences
You can better manage your team’s workload if you know when they’re going to be around. Talk to them about upcoming holidays and include those in your workload planning so you don’t assign them tasks while they’re away.
Equally, check in with your team to make sure your knowledge of their skills is updated. Your employees may be able to work on more projects than you expected if they have developed new skills.
5. Adjust the Team Workload
Finally, you need to factor in over and under-allocations. Start with the employees who have too much work assigned to them and split big tasks into smaller chunks. If needed, assign someone else to help them or make the task stretch over a longer period so they have fewer hours to work on it each day. Using a team workload management tool like ProjectManager makes managing workload easier.
You could also move some of their work to another member of the team who doesn’t have enough to do. Boost someone’s workload by asking them to take on another project, develop their skills or involve them in planning for next year.
If you are going to change an assignment in your resource planning system, don’t forget to speak to the people involved first! That’s one of the key ways to make sure that you are keeping your team happy. You can explain that you are shifting resource requirements around to balance out the work and that it is not a reflection of their performance. In fact, as a result of your workload planning, they may end up with even better assignments.
Things can become additionally complicated when you’re onboarding employees into your remote work software, so be sure everyone is kept informed on the changes you’re making.
Using ProjectManager to Manage Workload
ProjectManager is award-winning software that gives you a number of tools to balance the workload across your team. With our Gantt charts, you can map out your tasks in phases and assign them to team members. The assignee’s name appears next to the task so you can view who is working on what at what time.
And since it’s an online Gantt chart, all the data is updated in real time, and the entire team gets updated on their new tasks in an instant.
Multiple Views for Optimal Efficiency
Simply click on a task and assign it to certain team members. You can add a number of team members or simply yourself if needed. Team members are even organized by department so you can quickly identify the best person for the job.
Resource management software makes the workload management process easy, especially when it’s integrated into your project management solution. Updating your workload plan automatically updates the resource reports in ProjectManager so you quickly see who has time to take on additional tasks. Start your free trial today.