Resource Allocation Guide for Digital Project Managers

Resource allocation is a critical step in the project management process. In this guide, learn what resource allocation is and why it’s important, go over some of the challenges you might encounter, and then dive into a step-by-step guide.
Shannon Toe

Disclaimer: This article has been repurposed from our original post on The Digital Project Manager.

What Is Resource Allocation In Digital Project Management?

Resource planning is the process of identifying and allocating your resources to various activities across your project(s) to achieve your project goals.

‘Resources’ in project management refer to anything you require to complete the project, including tools, equipment and facilities. On most digital projects, however, the key resources are people. Without effectively allocated people, it will be difficult to deliver the work required for your projects within scope, within budget, and on time.

Who’s Responsible For Resource Planning?

Resource planning and allocation often fall to project managers. However, some companies may also employ a resource manager, who is responsible for planning and allocating staff and other resources across several projects.

The main difference between project managers and resource managers, however, is that generally, project managers are concerned with allocating and managing resources for only the projects they are accountable for. In contrast, resource managers take a more holistic view and look at resource planning on a company level.

Both roles work hand-in-hand to strategically assign people to projects based on their skills, experience, and availability.

Why Is Resource Planning Important?

Having access to the right people at the right time and with the right skill set is critical for project success.

Resource planning will help you identify and mitigate any risks, such as potential resource conflicts or gaps in availability, and manage your customers’ and stakeholders’ expectations. Planning and allocating your resources ahead of time will save you and your company lots of time, money, and headaches!

Furthermore, effectively assigning resources across your projects can lead to better company profitability, a more balanced workload, and reduced stress for you and your team.

What Are The Challenges Of Resource Planning?

Allocating resources in the literal sense is relatively straightforward — it’s other factors such as balancing resource availability with an ever-changing project landscape that makes this process challenging:

  • Your project’s requirements may change
  • Someone on your team might need to suddenly take days off
  • Your customers or other project stakeholders might throw you a curveball at the last minute

On top of that, you likely won’t be dealing with just one project, but multiple projects, so there will be competing demands on your resources.

Without a proper plan in place or good resource management software, it’s challenging to maintain visibility over the constant workload and changes in staff availability.

So now, let’s take a look at how to effectively plan out your resources for your next project.

Step-By-Step Guide: Resource Planning for Digital Projects with Runn

Before You Get Started

1. Know Your Project Team’s Capacity And Availability

Before you begin allocating your resources, you need to figure out how much time you have available to allocate in the first place.

Do some of your people work part-time? Do some of your people only work on certain days of the week? Is there a public holiday coming up?

Capacity refers to the amount of time someone can work. This comes from how many the number of hours per week or day they would usually work. Typically, this is laid out in your contract with the employee.

Availability refers to the amount of time a person can work minus extra time off, sick leave, time allocated on other projects, and other tasks. You’ll likely discover that after all these things have been taken into account, a person’s availability may be a lot less than what you may initially have expected.

Our People Planner gives you real-time access to your pool of employees and contractors so you can see everyone’s workload, holidays, time off, and availability for allocation.

2. Know What Other Projects Are In The Delivery Pipeline

It’s also important to know what other work is currently underway and what work is coming up as you may have people working on multiple projects at a time.

Our Project Planner displays all your projects scheduled in the selected timeframe and will show you what’s currently on.

Look out for tentative projects, which if they become confirmed, will be other projects you’ll need to balance your resource allocations among.

The People Planner and Capacity Charts are quick ways to see where you may be going beyond capacity.

Easily view team capacity and workload, as well as confirmed workload for team members.

Planning Your Project And Allocating Resources

1. Understand The Project Scope And Delivery Constraints

Firstly, make sure you know the requirements and deliverables of your project and have identified any delivery constraints, such as:

  • Scope
  • Deadlines
  • Dependencies

2. Identify Roles And Skills For Your Project

Now, identify the roles, skills, and seniority level you will need for your project. As a project manager, you might not always know who will be appropriate for the job. It is a good idea to consult the respective team leads, solution architects, and resource managers. They know their team members well and will have an idea of who on their team would be a good fit or where you may be lacking in skills necessary for project delivery.

If you have a project budget, you can use the project budget in Runn to organise the roles you will have involved in the project and approximately how much of the budget will be allocated to each role.

3. Map Out Your High-Level Project Timeline

Next, build out a high-level project plan.

Work with your team to break down the scope into tasks and activities and estimate how much time you think you will need to deliver the scope of work. The number of hours or days your team will need to complete each task in a work breakdown structure will feed into your project’s resource plan and schedule, so this is an important step.

From here, identify the overarching project phases and critical milestones and deliverable deadlines. You can visually draw these up in the project planner. Once you have lined these all up, you’ll be able to see a timeline with start and end dates for the project.

A project timeline in Runn with phases and milestones added.

4. Allocate People To The Project

Add the available people you want to assign to the project, ensuring that they can take on new work.  Remember:

  • To take any time off or public holidays into consideration
  • To make sure the people you’re allocating to the project have the appropriate skill sets
  • And that no one is overbooked or will have scheduling conflicts
Allocate people's work on Runn's Project Planner and get a bird's-eye view of the entire project.

Resolve any overbookings or conflicts by re-allocating the work to someone else or moving the timeline.

Runn allows you to add people to a project by role and skill, as well as alerts you of overbookings and time off in real-time so you can adjust things on the fly.

What if I don’t have the right resources at the right time?

If you don’t have anyone on your project team with the right skill set, you might need to hire a contractor to help you deliver the work. Use placeholders to represent them in Runn.

In Runn, you can use placeholders to indicate demand for a role or if you’re not sure yet who on the team will be taking on the work.

Once The Project Is Underway

As you progress through your project, things don’t always go as planned.

What if your resourcing plans were too conservative, and you now run the risk of going over budget?!

An easy way to see how your plans fare against reality is by getting your team to track their time worked on the project.

This allows you to identify how your team are tracking against the original plan and identify any resource or scheduling risks early before they become issues. Frequently checking important resourcing metrics like utilisation and capacity will inform your decision-making and avoid over-allocation and team burnout.

Data from Runn’s built-in timesheets helps with making comparisons of plans versus reality, and with forecasting your resourcing and financial health for the remainder of the project.
Runn’s variance report shows the variance between your actual and planned resource allocations.

To stay on track and mitigate any risks, you might have to:

  • Swap out a resource
  • Allocate more resources
  • Change the allocation of resources

Conclusion

An effective resource planning and allocation process involves having a strategy before a project starts, assigning the right people at the right time, and keeping track of your plan along the way to ensure optimal team utilisation and successful project delivery.

Runn provides critical visibility over your pipeline of work and your team’s capacity and availability so that you can react to changes quickly and adjust your plan effectively.

If you’re not already using Runn, try it out with a 14-day free trial today.

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