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Iryna Viter

Mastering Workload Analysis: 5 Tips to Get Started

Workload analysis can save you from a delivery risk. Here's how to do it properly using workload management software.

Just like a seatbelt, workload analysis safeguards you from overhiring, overallocating, and going under and over budget.

In less poetic terms, analyzing project and people workload helps you distribute work fairly and build realistic project expectations from any initiatives you try to launch.

But how do you make that workload analysis work for you?

We have a few ideas to share.

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What is a workload analysis?

Workload analysis is a method you use to calculate how many people you will need to cover a certain project.

It is also a method used for drilling into the current workload of your teams so you can make adjustments and predict how that workload could change in the nearest future.

Workload analysis is a crucial part of workload management, as it will always alert you to any red flags, potential burnouts, people left on standby, etc. It's also one of those regular check-ups you need to do just to see if you can find some areas for improvement or ways to optimize the use of your resources.

Workload analysis example

Suppose you're in a professional services business and you have a new project that you need to plan out (on top of all the other projects that are already in progress).

To move forward with the new project, you first need to conduct workload analysis by looking into the project scope. Then, you can take a look at where your resources are standing with their current workloads.

With a few easy clicks, you figure out who is at full capacity, and who still has enough availability to join the new project.

If no one is available, workload analysis will help you with two things. One, it will give ideas on how you could shuffle and reassign your resources if that is relevant to your project. If option one is a no-go, workload analysis will help you understand who you need to hire and how many hours of work you will need from all the newcomers.

workload analysis

The importance of workload analysis

There are multiple reasons why you should never neglect workload assessment. Here are a few of the many:

  • Determine who you need to hire. Nobody wants to overhire. In March 2023 alone, nearly 120,000 tech employees lost their jobs in lay-offs, many of which were attributed to overhiring in the past few years. Workload assessment helps you always hit the right spot in your staffing needs.
  • Get a realistic assessment of current capacity. Analyzing workloads will help you ensure fair workload distrubution, simplify workload forecasting, and give you an accurate idea of the type of resources you have at hand.
  • Optimize workloads. When someone in your team is struggling with a heavy workload, workload analysis will help you pinpoint that. If you are trying to build a people-positive culture, giving people that work-life balance is a must.
  • Predict hiring needs. Looking into your workload schedule will make it easy for you to see what resources you need to hire, what kind of skillset you need them to bring to the table, and how it is going to impact your current resource pool.
  • Save project costs. Overhiring leads to steep project costs. When you focus on your project workload properly, you will minimize the risk of running over budget.

Top tips for workload analysis

Do you want to always assign the right people to the right projects at the right time? Here are a few easy steps you need to follow.

Look into resource availability

You can't analyze your people's workload without looking into their availability first. With a workload management tool, you can see all of your people in a single dashboard, the projects they are assigned to, and the amount of time they have to spare.

workload analysis
Get the most recent resource availability information at your fingertips with Runn

Speaking of resource availability, however, we not only mean people's time. Their skills, seniority, time-off, career aspirations, and employee preferences in general should all be part of the discussion before making resource allocation decisions. Staff have weekends off, they may take annual leave, or they may be required for another project. Certain skills are required to complete tasks in a timely manner, and without those skills project managers can face time delays. At the same time, over-qualified staff may come with an extra cost that puts pressure on your budget.

This step is also crucial in capacity planning, where you conduct a workload analysis and then try to make educated guesses about the best ways to work with your capacity.

Measure utilization rates

In short, the utilization rate will show you how much of their time your resources spend working on tasks that are beneficial for the business, the type of tasks you can later charge for.

tracking resource utilization
Build utilization reports with Runn to spot over- or underutilization

Admin matters, for example, are the necessary evil everybody needs to do, but it doesn't always convert into revenue for you. Your workload analysis might uncover areas where you can optimize workflows to save company costs.

Estimate tasks and milestones

If you're analyzing the workload for a project that hasn't started yet, take the time to drill into each task and milestone. For better project outcomes, you need to make an accurate assessment of the manpower needed. But if you try to stick to ballpark numbers only, that will leave a lot of grey areas around your project costs and delivery dates.

Equally distribute tasks

One of the core selling points of workload analysis is that it helps you avoid burnout, overallocation, under-allocation, and anything else that goes beyond balanced workloads.

With a good grasp on workloads, you can always be sure to give everyone the same amount of work and responsibilities, creating a fair and equal work environment.

Continue reading: 5 Tips to Balance Your Team's Workload with Runn

Establish priorities

Projects rarely go exactly as planned so leaving room for some unpredictable turns is a smart move.

Having a plan B at the ready means that you can pull out a clear list of priorities at any time: if things go sideways, what are the steps you need to take to navigate your project out of trouble? Which tasks can you drop and which ones can be moved into the project's 'wish list'?

Key takeaways

To an inexperienced audience, workload assessment might look like a nice-to-have step in project management.

In reality, however, analyzing workloads is the way to set your projects for smooth sailing and empower your people to bring their maximum productivity into the game. It is the way to make your business sustainable and smart.

Keep on reading on how workload management tools can help.

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