Project Management Guide:

What is Resource Allocation?

Resource allocation is assigning the right people to work on the tasks necessary to complete a project. So, if you’re going to need designers, writers, construction workers or other individuals to work on the project those are some of your resources. If you need them to bring along their software, hardware and other tools to get those tasks done then those are also resources.

Understanding Resource Allocation

When it comes to running a successful project you want to make sure that you have the right tools, financials and individuals to help you get the project done. In the business world, we refer to all of these things collectively as resources. This means that you need adequate resource allocation to ensure that every stage of a particular project is completed in the right amount of time. We’re going to use this article to discuss the different aspects of resource allocation and just what it means to utilize this technique within the projects you’re working on.

What is Resource Allocation?

Well, to put it quite simply, resource allocation is assigning the right people to work on the tasks necessary to complete a project. So, if you’re going to need designers, writers, construction workers or other individuals to work on the project those are some of your resources. If you need them to bring along their software, hardware and other tools to get those tasks done then those are also resources. Time and money can be considered resources as well. From there, you have to assign all of those things to the tasks that are required to get the full project completed. You are assigning the tools you need or allocating your resources.

The Importance of Resource Allocation

The most important aspect of resource allocation is that you’re going to have everything where you need it and when you need it. After all, if you need the company accountant to help you with specific financials for your project but she’s working on another task elsewhere you’re not properly allocating your resources. If you need a meeting room to host a big discussion but they’re all booked then you also haven’t properly allocated your resources. That’s why it’s so important to get these things done as early as possible.

The best way you’re going to be able to allocate resources is to make a plan even before you start executing a project. You should be able to sit down with one or two other people to create a plan based around the project. This plan needs to be detailed enough to specify just who needs to be working on it, how much money is available to work on it and how much time is available to work on it. From there, you can start to reach out to those individuals or reach out to the company to make sure that all of the things or people you need are going to be available.

Once you allocate resources to your project that means those resources can’t be taken away from you (or at least, they shouldn’t be). That’s going to make it much easier for you to accomplish the task. Now, in most instances, a project manager or a program manager (or both) will be involved in the process of resource allocation. They’re going to make sure that everything is assigned properly and that it’s getting done properly as well. It is, however, important to interact with any of the people that would be needed for the project to make sure that they can work on the tasks needed.

6 Aspects That Negatively Impact Your Resource Allocation

What if you can’t get everything working just right? What if there are struggles in the process of allocating your resources? Well, the truth is that several different things could make resource allocation more difficult. So, let’s take a little closer look at what some of those things are that you should be looking at.

1. Timeline Changes

One of the first things that often changes when it comes to any project is the timeline. You might end up with a project manager or program manager who decides they need to project done sooner (like yesterday). Or you might have a client that is suddenly in a big rush to get things done. Or maybe one of the pieces of the puzzle took longer than expected and now everyone else needs to work faster to get their part done. And of course, their part started later, which means they may not have the same availability that they did initially (which takes us to another point further down).

2. Scope Changes

The scope of the project is another aspect that can change the resources being allocated. If the scope of the project being requested changes it is entirely possible that the people required to work on it will also change. New tasks and new needs are going to make it essential for additional tools to be used as well. This can change what you originally requested as the resources for your project and might throw off the entire project if those resources are not immediately available.

3. Resource Availability Changes

If you don’t have the right resources to get the job done you’re also going to have some problems getting everything allocated. Maybe the people you need for this project just aren’t available at the time you need them. If that’s the case you’ll either need to find new people or you’re going to need to rearrange the timeline of the project itself. This can make it difficult for project managers or program managers to get the job done or to ensure that someone else can get the job done.

4. Task Dependencies

If there is one part of the project that needs to get done before the next part of the project can get done that means there’s a dependency. But what if part A of the project takes a week longer than it was planned? Now you need part B to be done later. And that might not be possible with the original team that you put together. Because what if the team that’s responsible for part B has another project that now needs to be done? Maybe they booked you into the only week they had available but now that you’re behind they just can’t make it work? Now you have to figure out a way to work around their other schedule or to change the team you have planned.

5. Overall Urgency

You have to understand what the most urgent aspects are. Do you need to get this task done immediately? It’s often the case that a project that comes in first will get pushed off to the side in favor of an entirely different project that needs to be completed. If that’s the case you may need to reallocate some of your people so they can work on the newer project or your project might lose people because your manager believes the other project is more important and allocates your team to that area instead.

6. Teamwork

Your entire team needs to be able to work together. It’s not just about making sure that your team can work together in small groups. The entire team, everyone who is responsible for the project, needs to be able to work together and to get the project done together. This isn’t always easy, especially when you’re bringing together people who may not work together frequently. If that’s the case you want to make sure that you’re doing some team building and that you’re figuring out ways to make sure everyone can get along.

How to Make it Work for Your Project

When you’re ready to start the process it’s important to know exactly what the overall goal is of the project. Talk with the client and talk with anyone directly responsible for delivering the project. These are the individuals who are going to have the most information and will be able to decide on the final goal. From there, it’s going to be up to the project managers or program managers to nail down all of the details.

You’ll need to work with the people who are in charge of each department to figure out which people will be best for each of the tasks that need to be performed. If you need someone who can work on the development you want to talk to the head of the development department and find out who their best person is for this type of project or task. You’ll want to repeat this process for each task that needs to be completed but make sure that you give the department head as much information as you can. Someone great at marketing for restaurants may not be the best person when it comes to marketing for automotive.

You’ll also want to talk to those people to make sure that they have enough space on their plate to take on an additional task. If they say they don’t go back to the department head. There may be a way that some of their other tasks can be reallocated to make room for this task. If not, you’ll want to talk to the department head to get another suggestion for who can accomplish the task or who you should be approaching next.
When you do get the individuals allocated for your team make sure you talk to them about the specifics of the deliverables that you are going to need. From there, they and you will be able to come up with a realistic timeline for each task that needs to be completed and will also be able to come up with a realistic budget for each portion of the project. It’s then going to be up to you to come up with the overall timeline and budget that you can present to the manager who is above you or to the client.
If those timelines or budgets don’t work this is the time to discuss it with others who are involved and find out the best ways to cut some areas to make everything work out so that the project can be done well and everyone can be happy with the results.

Planning for the Worst

Making sure that your project is going to go well also involves planning for problems along the way. Some of those are the things we talked about above with the interactions that are going to take place, but there are always other things you’ll want to look at more closely as well and plan for as well as possible.

Scheduling Tasks

  • Client Delays – how many times have you had a client take longer than planned to go over something? Maybe it was something small like deciding on the font size or the color of the background. Maybe it was something large, like authorizing an increase to the budget. No matter what it was, you want to make sure that you’re planning for delays.
  • Personal Delays – What if someone on your team that you’re depending on has a personal emergency and isn’t able to get the job done on time or even at all? You may need to wait for them or you may need to reallocate that task to someone else. Either way, it can cause a delay in getting things done.
  • Delivery Delays – Maybe the task that you budgeted 10 hours for doesn’t get done in 10 hours and it needs 12 or 20 or even more. There’s no telling what’s going to happen when you’re working with technology or creative people, so you may find that there are areas where problems arise.

No matter what is going on, you want to make sure that you know about your resources and that you are planning out the right resources along the way. You want to make sure that you are planning for emergencies and for things that are going to delay you along the way, but it’s also essential that you are realistic in the first place. Resource allocation is an important part of the process when it comes to your business, and it’s only by doing it right the first time that you can hope to get things done the way your clients expect and gantt charts are great tools to managing them.

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