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Mae Angeline

How to Create a Resource Heatmap

A resource heatmap is often the quickest way to see who is available to work on a project. Create one today to optimize your resource planning process.

Assigning tasks to your team members can be a tough job. You need to consider a number of factors - from the complexity of the task to the skills and abilities of each of your team members. Not only that, but task assignment is a crucial part of capacity planning and resource management, so it's important to get it right.

When allocating your resources for a specific period in the project lifecycle, you need to know which teams or resources have capacity and which are already booked up. If you don't have access to this information, there's a good chance you'll end up overloading a resource, whilst leaving others underutilized. But keeping a mental note of the workload of each of your teams in all the areas of your business can become overwhelming in itself.

This is where the resource heatmap comes into play. Heat maps offer a helpful solution for more targeted capacity and resource planning. In this article, we'll look at how a resource heatmap can solve workload distribution issues, and how to create your own heatmap!

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What is a resource heatmap?

A heatmap is a visualization of data analysis: it shows data through color, similar to the hot-cold spectrum of a thermal imaging camera.

In business, heatmaps are often associated with website development. They're used by UX designers and digital marketing teams for assessing user interactions with a web page, such as where the users click (click maps) and where they scroll (scroll maps). The click map or scroll map gives the designers an idea of where the important content is on their page.

However, a different heat map is used in resource planning: the resource heatmap. This helps project managers determine the magnitude of each team member's workload, providing them with critical information they need for allocating tasks.

In the same way as other heatmaps, a resource heatmap is a visual representation of data through color. A resource heatmap tool analyzes different levels of resource availability and your team's capacity, and color-codes the data into hot, cool, or cold temperature categories.

This allows you to visualize complex data to swiftly gain insights into different trends, issues, and patterns in your team members' workloads. Through these insights, you can make better decisions for efficient and effective resource utilization.

How does a heatmap make resource management easier?

Heatmapping tools can take a lot of the manual work out of resource management. Here are some examples of how heatmap work can benefit project managers.

Instant quantitative and qualitative data analysis

Heatmaps analyze quantitative and qualitative data related to your projects, resources, unassigned work, and even events. You save time compared to a thorough resource analysis, whilst still providing you with accurate and practical information.

Zoom in or zoom out

Heatmaps offer a broad overview of your team's availability and utilization. However, you can also choose to look at a specific team, activity, or time period in depth, to get a more granular view of your resource utilization.

Visual representation

The most obvious benefit of a heatmap is the fact that it's so visual, which makes it quick to interpret. Color coding of the heatmap data makes it easy to determine the values and significance.

Real-time information

Because of a heatmap report, organizations can stay updated with vital information that can help them optimize resource management by focusing their efforts on the parts of the business or project that need it.

The color-coded data identifies which dates or resources require attention and provides organizations with actionable insights that help them make decisions quickly and effectively.

Pattern spotting

Many organizations face repeated problems with resource utilization, but unless you have an easy way of seeing what's going on, it can be hard to identify the problems, let alone work out the possible causes. With a heatmap, it becomes easy to spot patterns in teams or individuals who are repeatedly overburdened or under-worked in project after project, so that you can fix the issues.

How to make a resource heatmap with Runn

Runn makes resource heatmaps easy through its People Planner tool. The People Planner allows you to schedule the right person for the right task at the right time by listing all the resources or members of your team, together with their availability or utilization.

Here's how it works.

Color coding

When you open the People Planner, you'll see colored bars alongside each of your resources. These colors represent your resources' workloads, with each color indicating a different level of utilization:

  • Blue - The resource is fully booked.
  • Dark blue and red - The resource is overbooked.
  • Light blue - The resource has some availability for the time period.
  • Green - The resource has no scheduled assignments for the specific time period.
Runn's People Planner gives you an at-a-glance resource heatmap

In this example, we can see at a glance that one of the resources is overbooked in this period, while two others are underutilized. Depending on their skills and the nature of the tasks, there may be work that could be reassigned to the underutilized resources to optimize workload distribution. Alternatively, the project manager may decide to find additional resources with the right skill set for this period.

Toggling resource capacity and availability

You can use the People Planner to view your team's workload in terms of availability or utilization. For availability, you'll see how many hours are available in each time period. For utilization, you'll see the data represented as percentages. You can switch between the two by toggling on % Utilization in the toolbar.

Choose your timescale

While the default view shows your team's workload according to the project timelines, you can switch to view their weekly availability instead. This setting, which is activated by the Weekly Summary button, shows how many hours your team members are available per week, or their percentage utilization per week.

High level view

The People Planner also allows you to view the availability and utilization of groups or teams, through the Group Utilization charts. This function is helpful when the project team is composed of several groups doing different activities and tasks. For example, you may want to look at the availability of your graphic designers as a group, rather than as individual resources.

To view group availability, you can use the Group By function in the tool. When you first open the People Planner, the grouping is set to "All", but you can select groups based on their roles, teams or other characteristics.

The overview will show you the workload of the group over time, and you can then expand the line if you want to view the individual resources in that group.

I've got my heatmap data: what's next?

Once you've examined your resource heatmap, you can use it to make strategic decisions about your resource allocation.

Add resources or time

You may want to add any resources that are missing, or adjust the availability of an existing team member. You can do this from the People Planner view.

Allocate resources

You can also use the People Planner to assign projects to specific people. When you click on the resource, it expands to show all the current tasks and projects the person is working on. You then click the Assign Project button, and you are good to go!

In this section, you can also change the team member's role for a specific project.

Set up placeholders

A placeholder in the People Planner is used to show the time a task will need, when you haven't yet assigned a resource to it. When you have overbooked employees, adding a placeholder allows you to reduce their workload while you work out who will take on the extra. This can also help you decide whether you need to hire any freelancers or contractors.

Once a new resource has been added to the project, or space clears in a team-mate's calendar, you can transfer these placeholder assignments to the right person.

Final thoughts on heatmaps for resource planning

Heatmaps are a great way to visualize data through color, and in project management they can be a useful way to understand resource utilization and availability. A resource heatmap allows project managers and all individuals involved to identify which resources are overloaded or under-utilized, and which tasks or assignments need more resources. This makes resource planning more efficient and optimized, without taking a lot of time in analysis.

One example of a heatmap tool is Runn's People Planner, which allows you to visualize each of your team members' workload and availability for a particular period of time, no matter what their role is or which group they belong to. This allows you to schedule your resources faster and easier, so that you can focus on other aspects of your project that require more attention.

If you want an easy way to optimize the work schedule for your team members and your project, contact Runn today and start using the People Planner for your capacity and resource planning!

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