Your team is your most valuable resource when executing a project. The ability to know who you need and when you need them for the project is what workload analysis is all about. As you can imagine, workload planning is essential for project success.
We’ll explain what workload analysis is and when you should be using it in your project. Then we’ll outline the steps you need to take for workload distribution, list some tools you can use for workload capacity and why it’s important. Then we’ll throw in some free templates to help with workload analysis.
What Is Workload Analysis?
Workload analysis is how project managers figure out how many team members they will need to properly execute a project. It not only deals with workload planning but also workload balance to ensure that no one person is overallocated, which threatens burnout and can erode morale.
Being able to see the workload of your team during the execution phase of the project is part of the monitoring and controlling phase. Workload tracking helps project managers reallocate team members as needed to serve the project and not overburden any one member of the project team.
Workload analysis is part of the larger workload management and is an ongoing process throughout the execution of the project. A project manager will always be tracking workload and analyzing workload to catch red flags and make sure they’re optimizing their team and not keeping anyone waiting on the sidelines.
Project management software helps with workload analysis and capacity planning. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that has resource management tools to keep teams productive without risking burnout and poor morale. Project managers can view our color-coded workload chart, which makes it easy to see who is overallocated. Then you can reallocate your resources right from the chart to balance the team’s workload and keep them productive and happy. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
When Should You Use Workload Analysis?
Workload analysis comes into play most with two scenarios: optimizing current business processes and planning new projects. In terms of the former, resource allocation is crucial to keep business processes and operations running smoothly. They need to have the right resources at the right time to keep the business doing what it does.
Businesses risk delays and worse if they ignore workload analysis and think they can just assign their team’s work and not constantly be tweaking their workload to keep them working at capacity. The same is true when planning new projects.
When a project is approved, there’s likely already a plan and budget in place. But that project schedule needs to align with your resources and you have to know who’s available and when they’re available to work. Then, once assigned, you need to track their work and make sure they’re not overallocated. Without workload analysis, projects can quickly go over budget and miss important deadlines.
Workload Analysis Steps
Workload analysis starts by being able to monitor your team. But it’s more than just knowing what they’re doing, though that helps. You need to follow these steps to gain valuable insights into managing the team’s workload.
1. Identify Your Project Goals
The first step is to define the project goals. All projects have a goal and knowing that will inform the rest of the project, from start to finish. Without a clear idea of your goal for the project, you’re never going to accomplish anything and just waste time, money and project resources.
2. Define the Scope of Your Project
To understand where your team needs to be allocated you first have to understand the project scope. This will help you see what’s ahead in the project and, in so doing, you’ll be able to create tasks that’ll inform the workload for your team.
3. Estimate the Resources That You Need
Resources aren’t only people, but raw materials, equipment and anything else that the team needs to accomplish the task assigned to them. Therefore, you need to forecast what resources you’ll need, which includes your team, their skill sets and nonhuman resources. The best way to do this is task by task. You can use a work breakdown structure to identify all the project deliverables and the tasks needed to deliver them.
4. Estimate Costs and Create a Budget
Now that you’ve estimated the resources you’ll need, it’s time to figure out how much each of these will cost. This will lead to the creation of the project budget that is part of any project. You’ll request those funds to deliver the project, therefore, it should be as accurate as you can make it. These cost estimations are particularly important because they will determine if it’s possible to hire more employees.
5. Create a Timeline
You have all the elements to create a schedule. Map your tasks on a visual timeline that starts at the beginning of the project and ends with its completion. You’ll want to link task dependencies to avoid delays, add milestones to help you track progress and give each task a start and end date.
6. Compare Your Current Resource Capacity With Your Resource Requirements
At this point, you can look at the resources you have and compare them to what your project requires. You might have enough resources, too many resources or not enough resources. This will determine if you have to allocate more resources to the project.
7. Assemble a Team With the Necessary Skills
Onboard the team you need to execute the project. They should have the skills that are required to execute the project properly. You’re also looking for a team that can work together, whether in the office or remotely. If they’ve never worked together, you can set up some team-building exercises to help them bond.
8. Balance Workload Distribution by Evenly Assigning Tasks
With the schedule in place, you can start assigning tasks to the team. Be sure to evenly distribute the tasks across your team. As noted above, if one team member is carrying too heavy a log it’s going to put a drag on the project and can erode morale.
9. Monitor Resource Availability & Utilization Throughout the Project
To avoid overallocation and to ensure that your team is keeping to the schedule, you’ll want to monitor your resource availability and ensure that you have what you need when you need it. Throughout the project, you can reallocate resources as needed to keep the project on track and the workload balanced.
Workload Analysis Example
To better illustrate what workload analysis is, let’s imagine a project manager in a manufacturing company who has been given a project to create 100 widgets. The manufacturing facility can produce a thousand widgets a day with a crew of 10, but the factory is already being used to create 500 different widgets.
The project manager will have to look over the resources available. In this case, the other project is using only a five-member team to deliver the 500 widgets. That leaves five workers unallocated. The project manager can take one of those five unassigned workers and get them on his project, which should be completed within a day.
During the run of those 100 widgets, however, the project manager will want to monitor the progress of the person working on his project. Maybe the project manager could put all five employees to work on the project and get it done five times faster. Maybe some of those unassigned workers will be assigned to other duties.
The project manager must keep an eye on the availability of the manufacturing crew. If there’s time to wait a day or longer, the project manager won’t have to allocate more than one or two employees to the project. However, if the availability of resources is limited, the project manager will have to figure out how best to allocate the resources and get the project done. That’s workload analysis.
Workload Analysis Tools
Our workload analysis example was simple, but it helps to wrap your head around the process. Of course, these calculations don’t need to be done by hand. There are workload analysis tools that can help. Here are a few.
- Workload charts: Displays tasks on a calendar grid showing each team member’s task allocation or workload.
- Timesheets: A physical or digital tool for recording and tracking the hours each team member spends working.
- Workload tracking dashboards: Monitors workload by converting data into graphs and charts.
Benefits of Workload Analysis
Being able to monitor every aspect of a project is a critical part of project management. You can control a project and keep it on track if you’re unaware of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis. This is certainly true with workload analysis and these are some of the reasons why.
Helps Avoid Resource Under- and Overallocation
Being able to keep your team’s workload balanced is essential for many reasons. If they’re overallocated, you risk burnout and an erosion of team morale, which is detrimental to your project’s success. On the other hand, if your team is underallocated, then they’re not working at capacity and being as productive. Workload analysis keeps an eye on allocation and allows project managers to apply workload balance.
Reveals Skill Gaps and Hiring Needs
Another benefit of workload analysis is that it provides a window into your team’s skill sets. You can tell if they need more training, which serves both them and the project. At the same time, by monitoring the workload, a project manager can see if more resources are needed to complete the work on schedule. They can bring this data to the executive team to show the need for new hires.
Helps Complete Projects on Time
Workload analysis is one of the tools in a project manager’s toolbox to deliver projects on time and within budget. Resources cost money. If your team is behind schedule it’s going to cut into your budget. The project might reach completion, but it missed its deadline and cost more than it was funded for. However, workload analysis helps to keep at least the labor part of the equation sound so teams are working at capacity and staying productive.
Provides a Healthy Work Environment
We’ve mentioned morale and the danger of eroding morale a few times, but it’s worth going into a bit more because it’s such an important part of workload analysis. If your team is unhappy, they’re not going to deliver their best. Overburdening them with tasks is a sure way to make them unhappy, which leads to an unhealthy work environment for them and others. It becomes like a poison introduced to the project and it infects every aspect of the work. Workload analysis can help to ensure the teams are working at capacity and sharing the load so that there’s no unnecessary jealousy.
Workload Analysis Templates
One way to do workload analysis is with templates. ProjectManager has dozens of free project management templates for Excel and Word that you can download to manage every aspect of your project, from start to finish. Here are a few to help with workload analysis.
Before you can analyze workload you have to plan it. Our free resource plan template for Excel allows you to list your resources, the cost of those resources and then assign them on a calendar for weeks in advance.
Use our free capacity planning template for Excel to figure out how much production capacity you need to meet demand. It’s a useful tool for manufacturing, but any project can apply this free template for resource management.
Timesheets are one of the tools that assist in workload analysis. Our free timesheet template for Excel lists the days, dates, start time, lunch start and end times and more to track the amount of time spent working. There are also columns for regular hours, overtime and total pay.
How ProjectManager Helps With Workload Analysis
While templates can help with workload analysis, they’re always going to be dated. You have to manually update templates, but project management software is a more efficient way to manage workload. Our workload chart, as mentioned above, allows you to identify overallocation and underallocation in real time. But that’s only one piece of our larger resource management features.
Track Resource Allocation, Availability and Utilization
Our software has multiple project views that allow your team to work how they want. They also help with resource allocation. When a project manager is assigning resources on our robust Gantt charts they can see the availability of the team, including vacation time, PTO and even global holidays. This, with the workload chart and timesheets, can help them get the most out of their teams by tracking labor costs, allocation and more.
Project managers need a tool to allow them to instantly see the progress of the project and the performance of their team. All they have to do is toggle over to our real-time dashboard and get a high-level overview of the project. Our dashboard is constantly updated with live data, which it then displays in easy-to-read graphs and charts that show project metrics, such as cost, time, workload and more. Unlike lightweight tools, our dashboard doesn’t require a complicated and time-consuming setup. It’s ready when you are.
Our software gives you all the resource management tools you need to manage your team’s workload and more. One of our multiple project views is a calendar that allows you to see your project plan month by month. You can add tasks, move tasks and use resource management features to help keep the project on track.
ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that connects teams in the office, out in the field or anywhere in between. They can share files, comment at the task level and stay updated with email notifications and in-app alerts. Join teams at companies as varied as Avis, Nestle and Siemens who are using our software to deliver successful projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.