Workload Management & Planning: Manage Your Team’s Workload


There’s a fine balance to be had between meddling in your team’s to-do lists and ensuring that the workload is equal and fair for everyone. Managing the project workload is one of the most critical parts of a manager’s job is to get that balance right.

Project teams look to you to clarify what they should be doing and when. But they don’t want you hovering over their shoulder as they tick off every task in their project management software.

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.

Workload management is made easier when you’ve developed a workload plan. Fortunately, there’s also a simple 5-step approach to ensuring your team stays true to the workload plan, one that makes it easy for you to manage the workload of the team without looking like you are micro-managing.  But first, let’s go a little deeper into workload planning.

ProjectManager's dashboard
Manage your team’s workload in real time with ProjectManager’s dashboards. Learn more!

Workload Planning

Workload planning is a way to keep your teams busy and productive. It’s a strategic way to distribute the work throughout your team. This boosts performance.  Planning workload isn’t only about getting the job done but reducing team stress, burnout and errors.

For a workload plan, you must first know your resources and the business priorities to map teams against needs, which is a constantly reviewed and adjustable process. You should have resource management software that identifies the team’s availability and hours, then analyze the work being done. Use this data to create a workload plan for the future to optimize productivity and balance workload across your entire team. You can use project management software equipped with workload management tools to help you with this process.

The workload management plan is not etched in stone and must be reviewed and revised continuously as the project moves forward and changes. Therefore, you need to actively manage your workload during the project execution, which brings us to the following five-step workload management process.

1. Review the Current Team Workload

If you are a project manager starting to manage workload from scratch then you need to start by reviewing what’s currently going on. 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 guys aren’t keeping on top of their work and are behind schedule or have missed a deadline for him.

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. These days, “Who is in my team?” is definitely not a stupid question!

The fastest way to find the answer is to use task management, capacity planning, or resource management features from your project management software to show you who is working on which tasks. In ProjectManager you’ll find that on the Workload management tool 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 that very 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.

ProjectManager's workload chart
ProjectManager lets you review resource allocation at a glance. Try it free!

2. Identify Over Allocated Staff

Look for team members who are over-allocated. That just means that they have been given more work than they can actually do in the time available.

A good rule for work management is that employees should be allocated to specific tasks only 80% of their time. The remaining 20% will be for answering phone calls, attending team meetings, dealing with the customer who calls with an urgent problem and so on.

The 20% should be spread out across the week to maximize productivity; it’s better to fill people’s time for, say 6 hours per day, then 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. You should use a work management tool to help you keep track of your employees’ time.

ProjectManager's dashboard, closeup of workload metric
View resource allocation across all projects on the ProjectManager dashboard.

3. Identify Under Allocated Staff

You are 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 the day.

In reality, your team members will always look busy. They will find things to work on, perhaps taking on tasks of their own accord or helping out one of their colleagues. Your time management system will help you understand if they are 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 from 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 just working on the wrong tasks? Or incredibly unproductive?

A workload tracker will give 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 manage your team’s workload better if you know when they are going to be around. Talk to them about upcoming holidays and include those in your workload planning so you don’t assign them work while they are away.

Equally, check in with your team to make sure your knowledge of their skills is up-to-date. 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’ve got to put those over and under allocations right. Start with the employees who have too much work assigned to them. Split up the big tasks into smaller chunks and assign someone else to help them out. 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.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

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 Workload Management Software

Workload management should be a priority for project managers because it overlaps with other important project management processes such as capacity planning, task management and project scheduling. Managing your team’s workload can be overwhelming, especially in big projects, but you can use workload management software to help you keep track of all your employees.

Ideally, your workload management software should allow you to assign tasks to your employees and have tools to visualize your project timeline such as a calendar view, Gantt charts or kanban boards. Additionally, you need time tracking, work management and resource management features. ProjectManager has what you need for effective workload management.

Using ProjectManager to Manage Workload

ProjectManager is an 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 all of 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.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart with assigning people popup

Multiple Views for Optimal Efficiency

You can assign and reassign work in more views than just the Gantt, however. Our task list and kanban view give you just as much power when it comes to managing your projects and teams.

Simply click on a task and choose which team members you want assigned to it. You can add a whole number of team members, or just yourself if you need to. Team members are even organized by department so you can quickly identify the best person for the job.

Task list in ProjectManager
ProjectManager lets you collaborate on the task level.

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.

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