Resource Optimization Explained for Beginners

What is resource optimization in project management? What are top resource optimization techniques? Read on in our complete guide.
Steven Male

Resource optimization is the process of allocating and managing resources in the most efficient way possible. In many organizations, including IT companies and digital agencies, resources can be both human (employees) and electronic (software, computers). In this article, we'll focus on human resource optimization.

The purpose of resource optimization is to maximize productivity by reducing the costs of labor and other expenses. Resource optimization techniques can also help you improve performance and meet customer requirements better.

For an organization to run smoothly and compete with others in the same industry, there needs to be a sustainable way to manage the required resources.

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What is resource optimization in project management?

To optimize something is to make good use of each and every part. As humans, we strive to make full use of everything. We also are constantly inventing and finding new ways of tackling a problem without compromising quality while still saving time.

Resource optimization in project management is simply using available resources such as machinery, finances, or human efficiency to accomplish the organization's goals. This should be within a specific time frame and budget.

So, how do resource optimization and project management tie together?

To maintain the workload and regulate project tasks, resource optimization aligns projects and completion dates with the available resources. This will help an institution to stay within the budget if finances tend to exceed available resources.

In resource management, decision makers use resource optimization techniques such as:

  • Resource leveling
  • Resource smoothing
  • Reverse resource allocation

Top resource optimization techniques

Now that we've seen why resource optimization is important, the next question is how to do it. Here are the top resource optimization techniques IT companies and digital agencies should be using:

Resource Leveling

As a project manager, at times, you realize that projects may not go as planned due to resource shortages. In these instances, you have to find ways to adapt to the situation at hand to ensure project deliverables are not affected.

Resource leveling is a technique where the start and finish dates are adjusted so that a project can be finished using the resources required. This technique helps resource managers get the right balance between the demand for a particular resource and the available supply, and reduces employee burnout.

The resource leveling technique helps project managers allocate tasks to the right resources - usually qualified employees who know the task at hand.

Advantages of resource leveling:

  • Its ability to minimize deficits
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Prevents over-allocation
  • Ensures successful delivery of quality outputs

Disadvantages of resource leveling:

  • Can cause delays in other projects
  • Budget over-runs
  • May demand extra resources

Resource smoothing

Project managers use the resource smoothing technique when time constraints take center stage. Resource smoothing, or time-constrained scheduling, ensures that the requirements stay within budget to prevent the project from exceeding the sources allocated for the project.

Project managers have to assess the resources' workload to see how they can ensure project outputs are delivered on time.

Advantages of resource smoothing:

  • Successful and on-time project delivery
  • It is an efficient and cost-effective way to use resources

Disadvantages of resource smoothing:

  • Project managers will have to delay some work to give the particular project first priority.
  • To prevent delays, the schedule usually has little flexibility

Reverse resource allocation

The reverse resource allocation method can be used with the two techniques above, but involves approaching it from a different direction. This technique will work in a reverse way such that you start with the last task, or most critical task and work your schedule backward.

This technique works when the project has a fixed deadline, or there are critical tasks that must occur on set dates. For example, if you have a project that needs an expert for one task on the critical path, you will assign tasks such that the company expert can work on that particular day on the set project.

The benefits of resource optimization for service businesses

Save cost

Resource optimization is an important process for IT businesses and digital agencies. It can save you a lot of money by letting you cut costs on underutilized manpower, hardware, and software licenses.

Resource optimization tools help clients keep their costs and capabilities in balance over time. This allows them to be proactive and avoid sudden increases or decreases in spending.

Know your resources

Having a comprehensive view of where your resources stand can give you a better idea of how to handle future projects, opportunities, and challenges. It also lets you plan ahead. For example, if you're planning on taking on new staff members or hiring a contractor, then resource optimization will help you find the best candidates for your needs.

Know the company's position

Resource optimization helps businesses know where they stand over time. It allows you to ascertain what your budgets and parameters are for future projects, so that you control the direction you move in.

Make cost-effective decisions

Resource optimization can help IT firms make cost-effective decisions about new projects and challenges that come up over time. If a project presents itself that requires more resources than expected, either revenue or skills, the implementation of resource optimization may show how to free up the resources you need to complete the project, or it may indicate that the project is not feasible.

Opens the doors to business expansion

Resource optimization can lead to scaling and business expansion. Moreover, it is a necessity for these kinds of companies that offer a wide range of services to clients. The ability to handle any kind of project is one way a company can stay competitive in the market.

More growth opportunities

As an IT firm or digital agency, you want to be able to handle anything your clients throw at you. A firm that specializes in only one thing has difficulty maintaining its client base when a new type of project comes along. A firm with the ability to do everything will have more opportunities for growth in the long run and will be able to attract more clients.

Transparency

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI),  there has to be transparency and trust for efficient timely project deliverables. Transparency with employees will prevent mistrust, project failure, confusion, and misunderstandings.

Transparency across multiple projects will make it easy for other managers to know what is happening in the company at any given time.

Improves employee efficiency

Resource optimization improves employee efficiency and morale as well. It allows workers to work on what they are good at and eliminate tasks they are not good at. Firms that do not optimize resources have employees working outside their skill sets, which can lead to mistakes and less professional work being done overall.

By optimizing your resources, you allow your firm to offer multiple services and spend less time training employees on new services and more time working on actual projects. This saves money that could otherwise be spent on retraining employees or hiring new employees altogether.

How to effectively implement resource optimization techniques

In IT and digital agencies, resource optimization techniques will help managers ensure that the right amount of computing, memory, storage, and network resources are available to handle the workload at any given time. Organizations will then scale their IT infrastructure up or down based on demand and enable them to use existing resources more efficiently.

Another way to effectively implement resource optimization is to study your organization by analyzing its weaknesses, strengths, and future goals. Are there under-utilized resources? Is there an over-abundance of material that later deteriorates and becomes waste? Analyzing this will help you manage and optimize resources effectively.

Knowing what resources to optimize

These are 5 types of resources you should optimize as a manager:

  1. Time
  2. People
  3. Money
  4. Technology
  5. Processes

You can do so using resource optimization tools.

Resource optimization tools

Gone are the days when you had to manage projects manually, you can use resource optimization tools to manage your projects. When you use resource optimization tools such as Runn, you can easily see how the project is going and who is available. A task scheduling software will help you know if there is demand for manpower, and where there is a particular constraint.

A resource optimization software is a sophisticated tool that streamlines projects so you get to know where there are needs or overabundance, and eliminate human errors and miscalculations.

The skill visibility is valuable as it helps you know if you need to hire additional staff instead of delegating high skill tasks to under-qualified employees as this will greatly compromise quality.

Many professional services organizations use project resource planning software. This software helps them save time in decision making to achieve established goals, instead of using outdated methods of managing projects.

Final Thoughts

When you have multiple projects to manage, it is wise to use resource management software and resource management techniques to ensure a given task is a success. These tools will make work easier and you will maximize the capabilities of the employees and resources.

You will handle resource constraints better, as the resource management tools can predict manpower using historical data it has stored. Managing your projects through a portfolio level will keep operations running smoothly.

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