Smart resource allocation and task scheduling; How do you do this

As a project manager, one of your primary goals is to succeed with effective resource allocation and task scheduling. Seems pretty simple: you know how many resources you have, the budget and time for the project. Just need to split the tasks among team members and define deadlines. Piece of cake.

As always, I am here to argue with that.resource allocation

Resource allocation is easy. Smart, effective resource allocation is damn hard. Why? I will tell you.

First of all, let’s get to know the some definitions. (If you already know these, just bear with me for a min)

So what does all of this mean to project managers? While it’s easy to allocate resources for a single project, with the number of projects increasing your resources (time, human power and budget mainly) stay the same. This is where it becomes super tricky to manage everything correctly.

Over commitment and over allocation can lead to various problems including missed deadlines, sloppy work, decrease in work quality, poor performance,  productivity and motivation    decrease, stress and more unpleasant stuff like that.

Be at rest

Now let me relieve you guys a bit: It’s technically impossible to allocate and schedule every single task and resource 100% correctly from the start. So what you will need to do is plan your actions as close to perfect as possible in the beginning (taking into account all the ongoing projects, number of tasks per employee and also  time needed to complete these tasks, individual skills of each team member and all the other small details that you can think of) and make all the necessary shifts accordingly, real time.

You may wonder why is it impossible to allocate and schedule everything right from the start: If you are really good, you can pull that off. Well, not exactly. It doesn’t depend on your godlike planning skills only.

Tasks scheduling usually consists of activities and resources and also different interrelationships between those. Each activity may have unknown beginning, progress time and end depending on the nature of the activity. This happens because some activities may start only after others finish. This relationship is called temporal constraint and is one of the reasons that causes difficulties.

The other reason is that all activities require a certain amount of resources to complete and you can’t be 100% percent sure how much resource will each activity require. Also activities use or generate resources as a result of completion (for example your lead nurturing program can help close a few accounts and add some money to your budget). This kind of relationships are defined as requirement constraints.

Those relationships between activities and resources show why proper allocation cannot be done right from the bat: you simply don’t know all the outcomes.

How to allocate your resources smartly

Okay, knowing all this is very good, but how do you deal with the problem? Well, it’s really up to you. That’s why you are the project manager: you need to be smart enough to deal with the problems that arise in the midst of the project. Otherwise, your expertise and knowledge don’t really matter, right?

Here are a few tips that can be used for most case scenarios to prevent incorrect resource allocation:

These are general examples that can be applied to most projects, but for each individual case you will need an individual approach. Like all people are different on our planet, different PMs have different approaches and team members. You could decide to overwork your team with a promise and delivery of a significant bonus by the end of the project or take some more temporary workforce (like freelancers) to help you out. It’s really up to you.

What’s important is that you clearly understand that you can’t be perfect constantly. Mistakes are inevitable and will happen from time to time. Minimizing the number of those mistakes and their effect on the project is what matters.

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