Picture this: You’re hosting a dinner party to celebrate your friend’s birthday. Your home is full of celebrating guests. A few hours into the party, someone says they’re getting hungry. You decide to order pizza and need to figure out how much to order. If you order too few pizzas, there won’t be enough for everything. If you order too many, there’s sure to be some food that goes to waste. You also only have so much money in your wallet from when you got paid last week. You step aside and ask yourself, “How can I feed everyone while also getting the best value for my money?”
Managing a project is like throwing a birthday party. To be an effective project manager, you need to allocate your resources wisely to maximize your chance of success.
Let’s explore the topic of resource allocation, take a look at best practices, and review the four benefits of effectively managing your resources.
What is resource allocation?
Resource allocation refers to the process of assigning assets in a manner that supports a company’s goals. It includes everything from the allocation and management of tangible assets like hardware and software, real estate, and money to human resources like individual employees, teams, and departments. It can also involve things like intellectual property, company processes, and one of the most precious resources: time.
To effectively allocate resources, project managers need to schedule tasks and the associated resources that each task will require. Individuals doing the allocation need to know the availability of the resources required so they can use them throughout their project’s life cycle.
Managing a team?
Take control of your team meetings by having collaborative meeting notes and encouraging accountability with action items. Try a tool like Fellow!
Resource allocation best practices
- Create a plan
- Develop a project timeline
- Track performance
- Gather feedback
- Avoid procrastination
- Evaluate the success of a project
- Use tools
1Create a plan
Start by mapping out your project. Separate the project into tasks and identify what skills will be required to complete each of them. Determine to which team members you will delegate action items based on their skill sets and availability, and set a reasonable project budget. Use a work breakdown structure (WBS) to break down the project into smaller components. Use your project management tool of choice to map out the scope, cost, and deliverables in one place.
2Develop a project timeline
A project timeline is a visual reference point that you and your team can use to keep organized when working on any large project. In this timeline, outline the steps required to complete different project pieces and write out an overview for each smaller task. Your project timeline should also indicate priority levels for tasks and note key project goals.
Your project timeline should include six components: a project brief, small milestones, milestone due dates, an overall project deadline, an outline for all project tasks, and a schedule with dates for regular project check-ins.
Once you start to work through the project pieces, you can also begin to track performance. See how your team members are doing by asking for regular updates and hosting frequent check-in meetings. Use project management software and tools to collect real-time data that keep the team accountable. As a project manager, it’s your job to make sure that a task doesn’t take longer than it should to be completed. If any members of the team aren’t working as efficiently as they could, help them remove barriers so they can work smarter.
Ask for feedback throughout the project’s entire life cycle. Check in with your teammates to see what is and isn’t working and adjust accordingly. Ask questions like: “Have I provided enough information for you to effectively complete your task?”, “Is there anything I can do to make your job easier?”, and “Do you feel like the deadlines I’ve assigned you and the larger group are reasonable?” Gathering feedback about the project’s resources is a great way to identify blind spots and act on them accordingly.
Use Fellow to share real-time feedback on projects and performance. With our tool, you can incorporate opportunities to give and get feedback into your team’s day-to-day experience.
“I think that speed is underrated, I know everybody talks about it, but I think that people don’t understand why it’s so important. It’s the feedback loop. The shorter you can make the loop, the faster you can learn.”— Farhan Thawar, VP of Engineering at Shopify
Procrastination is a project manager’s worst nightmare. It’s often impossible to get a project back on track if you wait until the problem arises or take too long to allocate your precious resources. To avoid roadblocks, take time during the planning process to research where and when you might have a stumped team member or a slowed task. Challenges will always be present, but the sooner you deal with them, the lesser chance one problem will have to derail a ton of progress.
6Evaluate the success of a project
Once you’ve wrapped up a project’s final pieces, use metrics to see how well the outcome has met your expectations. The four factors you can use to determine a project’s success are efficiency, customer impact, business and commercial success, and future implications. Use data found during this step to determine how you allocate resources in future projects.
The best way to manage your project resources is by using an online project management tool that can help your team collaborate effectively. First, determine what features your team needs from a tool. Scheduling features, real-time dashboards, kanban boards, and more can make it easy to manage many things at once.
Fellow’s easy-to-use interface can help you assign tasks, divide resources, and link documents during project meetings with your teammates. Plus, did you know that you can integrate Fellow with popular workflow tools like Asana, Slack, Jira, and more?
5 benefits of resource allocation
When you allocate resources effectively, you give your team members more opportunities to collaborate. For example, when everyone who is a part of a project has the time, context, software, and other resources needed to do their jobs, they will be able to be proactive in their communications with each other, clients, stakeholders, and you.
Effective resource allocation can lead to cost savings! Your project plan should include a detailed budget that outlines how much each task will cost to execute (if anything). With increased efficiency and reduced waste, you’ll avoid mistakes and setbacks that can cost your company. If any piece of the project has the potential to go over budget, determine whether or not it’s a must and figure out how you can stay on track.
3Enhances team morale
Team morale naturally improves when every person feels heard, is optimistic about the team’s work, and has the resources required to do their job well. When you communicate ahead of a major project how you plan to allocate resources, you allow each teammate to speak up, give feedback, or ask for changes to be made so they can complete their tasks. When employees know what to expect, they will develop trust in you as their project manager and feel motivated to perform well.
Prioritizing resource allocation will help your team complete a project using only what is needed. A plan for resources will help your team avoid mistakes related to conflicting resource dependencies and increase overall efficiency.
An organized team equals engaged employees. Teams with effective resource allocation are often also great communicators, goal oriented, and motivated to work towards common goals. When you organize and divide project resources, you ensure that all work is divided evenly. This can lead to an aligned team that feels appreciated and, in turn, is productive!
Imagine this: You’re hosting a dinner party to celebrate your friend’s birthday. One week in advance, you create a plan for resource allocation. You decide that you’re going to serve snacks, beverages, and pizza. You assign your partner the task of running to the grocery store the day before the party with a list of everything you need. Before the party begins, you calculate how many large pizzas you need to order to feed every person who has RSVP’d to the event and find the restaurant that will deliver it to you at a reasonable price. When the party begins, the pizza has arrived, the snacks are set out, and the beverages are chilled. Success!
Whether it’s a birthday party or a major workplace project, resource allocation will be the key to your success!