When it comes to project work, no one wants to stare down a never-ending to-do list. Yet when you're in the thick of a project and your workload seems too much to handle, it can feel that way.
Figuring out how to master project workload management and distribute workload smoothly among your team is one of the most important things a project manager can do.
But where do you start and how do you set your projects for smooth sailing from day one?
Find all of your questions answered below.
In simple terms, project workload stands for the amount of work encapsulated in a single project, whereas project workload management is about the way you approach, manage, and distribute that work among your team members. It includes assigning responsibilities, setting expectations, collecting updates from team members, and forecasting future workloads.
In many ways, it's a measure of workload efficiency — the extent to which employees are using their time and skills. When you're trying to figure out how to manage your team's workload, you need to gain an understanding of what resources you have available in the first place and how they can be used in various projects at once.
Proper workload management always starts with a zoomed out look at your resources and their capacity. And this step is especially relevant if you have a lot of resources and are trying to effectively manage a heavy workload so no one has to do overtime.
With Runn's resource availability map, you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of your teams, all color-coded and sorted based on their seniority, role, and availability. And the best thing is that all of it is automated, you don't need to create any formulas like the ones you would normally have to juggle in a project workload excel template.
Suppose you have a project all broken down into phases and milestones, you have a clear look on your resources, and now you need to assign tasks to the right team members. As it happens to be in almost every workload management process, you are probably short for resources and need to establish clear priorities.
For example, if your developers are working on multiple projects at once, you might want them to focus on one project for several weeks before switching over to another one so that each project has its own period of full attention from the team members who are responsible for it. And you prioritize those projects based on urgency, complexity, compatibility with other business processes, etc.
Here's what your workload schedule might look like when you finish distributing it.
This screenshot shows how workload is distributed for the Hidden Moon Base project. You can see Milestones and Phases, as well as people that are assigned to do work on every phase.
Assigning and tracking project workload is one of the most important responsibilities for a project manager. When done correctly, it optimizes employee performance and minimizes confusion, leaving everyone satisfied rather than overwhelmed.
Here are 5 easy steps you need to follow when assigning tasks.
Step 1. Start with the highest priority tasks. One of the best things project managers can do to help their teams is setting priorities. Arrange your team's to-do list of tasks and projects based on how important or urgent they are, and help them focus on the right tasks first.
Step 2. Look at launch and finish dates. Once you know what team member is responsible for what part of the project, establish clear due dates on each task. To help your resources be efficient in the way they approach their workload and focus on one task at a time so they don't scatter their attention, see if you can apply the time blocking technique.
Step 3. Double-check if you are assigning the best people to each project or task. Consider your team's availability, preferences, if any, expertise, seniority, etc.
Step 4. Communicate with the team. For your team workload management to be successful, your team needs to be on board with what you do. Talk to your people to see if they can actually take on the new project you plan to assign them and check whether your estimates are realistic so they always know their opinion matters.
Step 5. Keep people informed why you give them each specific task. Successful project management heavily relies on employee engagement and motivation. To help them be engaged, tell your experts why you give them certain tasks or projects and how that is going to contribute to the overall company goals.
Assigning project workload is not enough to guarantee success. You also need to continuously track and monitor it so you can see how your projects progress and whether you need to do some tweaks in project schedules.
Tracking project workload requires setting up a system of checkpoints. As your people work on the project, they have to know exactly what are the deliverables that need to be delivered by when. If they're not ready yet, when will they be ready? What needs to be done before they become ready? And so on.
It gives you the chance to make adjustments before the project falls behind schedule. It also lets you avoid unnecessary complications and conflicts between the resources who may be involved in the project. And finally, when you know how much work is left and how much time each task will take, you can easily measure how close your teams are to finishing the project.
Creating a project workload is like drawing a roadmap, you need some advanced workload management tools to help you make the right calculations.
Are you ready to see how Runn can help you with that? Book a demo now!
Find out about project change and how to stay on top of it in this second part of our blog post series on project control.
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