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Iryna Viter

Soft Booking Resources: All You Need to Know

The project hasn't been confirmed yet, but you need to book resources? Enter soft booking.

Soft booking is another way of saying "putting a date or numbers on something that's not quite ready to be set in stone." It's a great strategy for making sure everyone has visibility into the project schedule, but it can also be used to make sure you're getting a thorough understanding of what needs to be done before you start booking dates and asking for resource commitment. 

In this simple guide, we tell you everything there is to soft booking and explain when and how you should use it for greater project benefit. 

What is soft booking?

Soft booking is the term for the process of scheduling resources in a project that haven't been confirmed yet. If the resource or service hasn't yet been confirmed, you have to make assumptions about when they'll be available and what their costs will be — this is soft booking.

Soft booking takes its name from the fact that it is "soft" or flexible. This means that when managers are creating their plans, they should try not to put too many hard deadlines on certain tasks or phases of the project, let alone the people they expect to be part of the project. Instead, they should leave some leeway within their plans so that they have time to adjust things if necessary. 

You can also tentatively schedule the need for a resource on a project team as a placeholder to show that you plan to assign the resource with specific skills to the project.

The difference between hard booking and soft booking

For project planning and resource booking to be successful overall, it’s crucial to see the clear difference between tentative (soft booked) and confirmed (hard booked) resource assignments. 

The level of commitment is, in essence, what separates hard booking from soft booking of a resource in a project.

Soft booking implies an assignment that has not been confirmed, whereas hard booking means an absolute commitment of the resource to the project.

Why soft booking is important

Soft booking can be thought of as the bridge between project planning and execution; while the final details aren't yet worked out, you don't want to stop all forward progress on your project before they are. 

What you want instead is a plan in place for when those final details become clear and leave room for flexibility with regards to how things get done. And it is that advance planning and looking into the future, predicting revenue and potential development of the project that makes soft booking so important. 

But it’s not just about ‘reading the future’ — above anything else, the value of soft booking is about the freedom you get with resource planning. It can help you easily predict capacity and demand, create resource calendars, and understand resource availability at any point in time

When to soft book resources

Suppose you’re planning a project but don’t yet know how much it is going to cost and how long your team will need to complete it. But in order to move the project further than the project initiation phase, you need to give some numbers. How feasible is the project after all?

This is where soft booking comes into play and saves the day. You can use it to tentatively plan assignments and allocate resources on all the tasks you line up for each milestone. It will help you answer a few essential questions:

  1. Do you have enough resources to complete the project?
  2. If you don’t, what roles or expertise are you missing and need to hire? How much added expenses does that mean for the project?
  3. How many efficiency hours will be needed to cover all assignments and what project budget does that require? 

With all those answers at hand, you can give stakeholders a realistic understanding of the project, while also proving (or disproving) the value it holds to the company in general. 

How to soft book resources on new projects

With Runn’s tentative projects functionality, you can soft book resources on new projects.

First things first, you can label the project as ‘tentative’ or ‘confirmed’. Using the ‘tentative’ label will help you design what-if scenarios to see how the new project will impact your team’s workload and other projects that are already running. You can easily switch on and off the tentative projects from your resource calendar to look

At the same time, tentative projects can help you recalculate workloads without actually changing them. If you want to see whether the project is worth the trouble and can really make a positive impact — soft booking is the way to do it without bearing any losses in test runs. 

Try soft booking resources with Runn today.

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