November 16, 2022
General
5 minutes
Shannon Toe

How to Create a Workload Schedule in 3 Simple Steps

Creating a workload schedule on your projects will help you balance any over- or underallocations. Here's an easy guide to doing it.

Lots of times, a project's workload isn't evenly distributed among the team members. Some people end up with more work and some with less. And while it is not uncommon for this to happen, it is also essential to correct (or better yet prevent) it so that no one gets overloaded but also so that no one is left with nothing to do.

Unknown to many, creating workload schedules is also a sure way to help your resources be more effective around their daily tasks. In fact, they can help you control your project's success rate to make sure you deliver on time and within budget.

So here's your all-in guide to workload scheduling.

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What is a workload schedule?

Workload schedules are used to help managers keep track of how much work they assign to their team members. A workload schedule is a list of tasks that, when completed, equal up to a certain amount of hours. It aims to help project managers plan and organize their resources effectively for them to be more productive. It also helps you find your way around managing heavy workloads.

Workload scheduling helps you create a healthy work environment where everyone can enjoy their work-life balance while also putting their best work into the projects and tasks assigned to them. You can also use it to track how much time is being spent on each project at any moment, so that you can adjust schedules or staffing as needed.

Why workload scheduling is important

A workload schedule is a critical part of workload management for professional services businesses.

You need to create workload schedules for your team members because they keep everyone on track and help people maximize their outputs and efficiency. Keeping a workload schedule will help the team members keep up with their daily tasks and know when they should finish those daily tasks.

The importance of creating workload schedules can be summed up in two words: consistency and visibility.

When you create an organized workload schedule, it provides a sense of consistency for the team member; the team member can view their schedule in advance so that they know exactly what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how many hours are devoted to each task.

On top of that, you get visibility with the workload schedules you create. If someone on the team begins falling behind because of too much work, you can look at the workload schedule to see what needs to be changed or cut back on.

How to create a workload schedule

1) Map out your projects

map out your projects

The first thing you need to do is map out all of the projects your team will be working on in the next week, month, or however long you plan on using the schedule. That means listing all the bits and pieces of your projects in an easy-to-read format, with time estimates for each meaningful unit of work. Having all of the upcoming projects laid out on the table and planned out in detail will make it easy to predict resource demand and do workload forecasting.

This will also help you determine which tasks are going to be done by each team member. You need to make sure that all assigned tasks are clearly defined so that everyone can understand what needs to be done and when it needs to get done by. After all, effective workload planning requires granularity and detail, it is all about looking into what-if scenarios and being prepared for scope creep, lest your teams get overloaded and have to struggle with poor workload distribution.

With Runn, you can split the project into phases and milestones and further assign resources to projects.

2) Assign resources

workload schedule

When you have multiple teams working on different projects, it can be hard to manage their workloads. Some people need to work on a single project but others can do the same tasks for different projects. To keep things organized and to prevent overlap, you can use a workload management tool to create a schedule and assign people to projects, almost pen on paper.

With every team member having a perfect grasp of what projects they are involved in, what tasks they need to complete following what deadlines, you can increase project transparency and resource visibility.

3) Apply resource optimization techniques

Workload planning for project managers

There are lots of resource management tricks you can turn to if you want to get the most out of your existing resources (without making people do overtime or turning into a micromanager).

Resource leveling and resource smoothing are among the top resource optimization techniques project managers use today.

In short, resource leveling helps you adjust the project to the talent pool you have available, not the other way around. With this technique, you need to be flexible with the start and the end date of your projects, as it will depend on the availability of your current resources.

Here's an easy example: you want to start your project in July, but you don't have enough resources to follow that plan. In this case, you have two options: first, hire new people and start it in July; second, apply the resource leveling technique and adjust project launch date depending on you resource availability.

At the same time, for an urgent project to be delivered on time when you have resource constraints, try resource smoothing. This technique presupposes some time-constrained scheduling where you need to deprioritize some tasks or projects for those urgent initiatives to get completed on time and within budget (again, this is applicable in case you can't hire more people).

Bonus tip: Don't schedule more than 80% of billable project time

billable time in project management tool

If you go looking for references, a good workload schedule example will never encourage you to schedule more than 80% of billable project time.

Why?

Because projects are never black and white, they never start exactly as planned, go exactly as planned, and finish exactly when planned.

You always need to leave that wiggle room for potential scope creep, force majeure, changes in resource availability, etc.

Final thoughts

Proactively managing a project is the key to completing it on time. Setting up a workload schedule that outlines what needs to be done, when, and by whom lets you track progress in all aspects of your business and make any adjustments that are needed. This not only helps you stay ahead of the game and plan your team's work, but also allows you to delegate tasks without getting caught up in details.

The key is to keep everything organized. To get there, be sure to use advanced workload scheduling software to be in full control of your team's workload, at all times.

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