What Is Resource Loading and Why Does It Matter in Project Management?

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You’ve heard it countless times; teams are projects’ most valuable resource. They do the work. But a project manager has to connect each team member to that work. Resource loading is a process to keep team members fully engaged throughout the project.

Being able to balance the resource load across your team is important. Resource loading in project management helps you avoid overallocation, which can erode morale and weaken productivity. But first, let’s talk about what is resource loading and explore resource loading vs. resource leveling.

What Is Resource Loading?

Resource loading is the full amount of assigned hours you have tasked your team with divided by the number of hours you have to do the work. You can view resource loading on a daily, weekly, monthly or project basis.

The problem with resource loading is that it’s easy to over-allocate team members. For example, if you have one team member fully loaded and they have to step in to help or replace another team member for whatever reason, then that team member is over-allocated.

This is one way that projects go off track, miss a deadline or spend beyond the project budget. Resource loading looks at the work that needs to get done and divides that by the resource’s full capacity, such as an eight-hour workday. Make sure to account for meetings, holidays, vacation time and even breaks throughout the day.

Project management software can help you with resource loading. ProjectManager is online project management software that allows you to see the available hours of your team, including global holidays for remote workers. You can monitor this on a real-time workload chart that’s color-coded to make it easy to read at a glance. If you over-allocate someone, you can reallocate resources directly from the workload chart. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's workload chart
ProjectManager has resource management features to keep your team working at capacity. Learn more

Resource Loading vs. Resource Leveling

It’s easy to confuse resource loading with resource leveling. They’re similar in many ways but they differ in terms of what they prioritize. Both, of course, are dealing with resource management, but they focus on different resources.

As we covered, resource loading is about your team, employees or manpower. Each worker is assigned a task or a percentage of the project until they’re 100 percent booked. This allows project managers to assign their teams and know if they’ll need to take on more team members to complete all the project work.

Resource loading is primarily concerned with manpower. Resource leveling is involved with resources, too, but also time, as in the start and end dates of projects and budgets. Resource leveling works at balancing schedules and budgets with resources, breaking things down into time and available resources. It’s used in projects that are pressed for time.

To sum up, resource loading allows you to calculate the amount of work that you expect each team member to complete over a period of time based on their availability and capacity. It’s resource utilization. Resource leveling is about making sure the resource allocation is the right size based on priority, the project timeline, milestones and budget. Resource loading is fixed to the project start and end dates and resource leveling can be adjusted to respond to resource conflicts.

How to Create a Resource Loading Chart

Use a resource loading chart to see how project work is allocated across the team. It’s a simple document similar to a basic spreadsheet. Best of all, you can build one in three steps.

1. Compare Team Members With Tasks

Using a matrix, start by listing all members of your project horizontally across the top. Then, on the left-hand side, list all the tasks that are necessary to complete the project.

2. Calculate Hours Spent on Tasks

Find out how long each team member takes on their tasks per week. Now figure out how much time they’re spending on each of their project tasks. Do this for everyone on the project team.

3. Compare Actual Hours With Target Utilization

Take the resource scheduling data you collected and compare that to your target utilization. This will help you determine how many hours a day you want teams to work on their tasks.

The Importance of Resource Loading In Project Management

Without resources, your project is just a plan. Resource loading helps you when assigning your teams by making sure they have enough work but not too much. Too few assignments and you’re not working at capacity, which will slow you down. That means being behind schedule and probably going over budget.

On the other side of the coin, you can over allocate your resources. If you do this it’s unlikely your teams will be productive and they’ll fall behind schedule. Even if they can keep up with the pace, it’s not sustainable. Your team will suffer burnout, which will take many of them out of the project, or you’ll not be able to retain team members. Either way, it’s a problem that occurs when project managers overlook resource constraints.

Keep Your Teams Productive

Resource loading is a technique that helps you keep teams working at capacity in order to deliver the project on time and within budget. In terms of planning, resource loading is a key component of a realistic schedule and budget. It allows managers to understand what resources they’ll need for the project and how much they’re likely to cost.

Resource loading doesn’t only help with knowing how many team members and costs. It’s also critical to determine the materials and equipment that will be necessary for the project. Not only what, but also when you’ll need them. All of which are key to proper project planning.

Free Resource Management Templates

It should be clear that resource loading is important. But it’s only one small part of your larger resource management plan. Resource management is all the planning, scheduling and allocation of your resources, which include teams, money, technology, materials, equipment—anything you need to execute the project.

Resource management informs almost every aspect of your project. It touches on planning and scheduling, of course, but also the availability and skill sets of your team, resource utilization, capacity and prioritization when allocating and so much more. Having a sound resource management plan not only leads to having what you need when you need it but it boosts morale. A happy team is a productive team.

ProjectManager has great resource management tools, and we’ll get to those in a moment. If you’re not ready to update, though, then let us tell you about the free downloadable templates we have on our site. There are project management templates for every phase of your project. Here are a few that relate to resource management.

Resource Plan Template

Resource loading is part of your overall resource planning. It’s where you identify and organize your resources, helping you know what you’ll need to complete the project. Our free resource plan template for Excel allows you to plan resources in conjunction with your project schedule and budget.

Project Budget Template

The project budget is what pays for your project resources. Whether you resources inform your budget or vice versa, you need to keep both in mind as you plan out the project. Using our free project budget template for Excel is a powerful tool to make accurate estimates for project costs, including resources.

Weekly Work Schedule Template

When you’re doing resource loading you have a better idea of how to allocate your resources and keep them working at capacity. Using our free weekly work schedule template for Excel allows you to organize your team’s weekly work schedule to better manage their workflow and workload to keep them productive.

ProjectManager and Resource Loading

Our free project templates are great for resource management and project management, but you’ll hit a wall that only project management software can help you clear. ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you with resource loading and gives you access to your team’s real-time availability and workload in real time and reallocates them quickly and easily to avoid bottlenecks.

Get a High-Level View of Resources

In order to reallocate resources wisely, you need to monitor your project in real time. Our live dashboard gives you an overview of the project whenever you want. There’s no setup to slow you down as with inferior products. You can see the health, percentage of tasks completed, cost, workload and more all at a glance with colorful charts and graphs. Being able to track these metrics in real time leads to more insightful decision-making.

ProjectManager's dashboard
Assign and Track Resources on Gantt Charts

Before you can monitor your resources, you need to plan them. Resource loading helps, but using our interactive Gantt charts allows you to match resources to team members while keeping track of the cost and schedule. This is all done online so it’s easy to share with your team and stakeholders. You can link dependencies to avoid delays and set a baseline to see how your actual resources are doing compared to your plan, reallocating as needed to stay on schedule.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Of course, that’s not all. We have automated notifications to keep you updated on changes or comments added to tasks. Timesheets track your team’s work and we have fast, customizable and detailed reporting tools that give you more data—plus, they’re easy to share with stakeholders to keep them updated.

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that empowers teams and gives managers the tools they need to better plan, manage and track their work in real time. More than just resource management, there are features to manage your tasks and risks, too. Join teams at Avis, Nestle and Siemens. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

Related Content

If you’re still interested in resource management, you’ve come to the right place. ProjectManager isn’t just superior software, it’s the online hub for all things project management. You not only get free templates but regular blog posts, thorough eBooks, whitepapers and more. Here’s a sample of that content as related to our topic.

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