Strategic, intentional planning for resource allocation may not be sorcery, but it just may be the closest thing to defying the immutable (Murphy’s) laws of project management. A good project is one that gets done, but a great project comes in on time, on budget—or better—and with as little stress as possible!
Why You Need Resource Allocation in Project Management
A 2017 report from PMI reported that only 26% of companies always use resource planning tools to estimate and allocate their resources, and fewer than half of those do so regularly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the same study reported that less than 60% of projects meet their original budget, and only half end up completed on time. If that’s not enough to give you nightmares, consider that nearly 20% of project failures are directly attributed to inadequate resource allocation.
Resources will always be the heartbeat of a project, and increasing real-time knowledge of how your resources are working and estimate risks can mean the difference between waking up in a cold sweat and resting easy.
What Resource Allocation Means
Resource allocation in project management means making resources available to the project in the most productive and economical manner in order to ensure project success. Rarely do resources exist in a static environment, meaning they must be frequently monitored for both planned and unplanned disruptions in availability. Adjustments must be made in order to ensure that small-scale disruptions in resource availability do not result in disruptions to the project as a whole.
For example, if a cohort of seven associates shares the load of a number of contracts, and one associate is heading out for a well-deserved 10-day cruise, the contracts will continue to need to be served, and resources must be adjusted. Being able to carefully review the workload of each associate and review upcoming short-term priorities allow decision-makers to consider the best resource reallocation for the scenario.
Making these kinds of decisions means asking tough questions. Will the vacationing associate’s contracts continue to be served as per usual by other associates in the cohort? Will this result in overtime, and if so, does the budget allow for paying overtime? Will overtime result in burnout, which may result in an increase of unplanned sick days and therefore reduced productivity? Are there tasks that can be shifted to other associates outside of the cohort or addressed at a later time?
Without clear data, the answers to these questions rest largely in guesswork, but being able to review past resource utilization data for specific task breakdowns and consider the cost impact of various scenarios means the ability to make decisions based on metrics. This results in a greater opportunity for uninterrupted service and reduced stress on everyone.
Big Picture, Small Details
Every resource you have on hand operates in the service of optimizing those four magic words: scope, time, quality, and budget. In order to most effectively and efficiently optimize those resources, you must know where those resources are needed and when, and you must know how to ensure that they’ll be available when you need them.
Being able to most effectively utilize all resources means being able to understand where resources operate interdependently and where they operate individually by having access to in-depth, actionable data. Once the critical path of the project is established in the planning phase, managers can feel confident that they can examine the small details of the project without losing scope of the big picture in order to make future real-time decisions, especially when unexpected occurrences result in necessary adjustments.
Project bottlenecks and shortages often result from not having strong enough data to adequately prepare slack time for the project or from not being able to quickly and effectively crash the project or prepare for slow-downs when needed. Tracking the actual utilization of resources in real time and comparing it to projections means being able to effectively make proactive decisions to keep the project on track, even when confronted with challenges.
Challenges in Resource Allocation
“Expect the unexpected” is great advice but not much of a strategy, nor is resource allocation a “set it and forget it” kind of process. Changes, setbacks, and upgrades don’t need to be causes for concern. However, failing to anticipate or address project challenges as quickly as possible can result in your project falling into those nightmarish statistics of projects coming in over budget or, worse yet, not at all.
Ideally the scope of a project remains constant, but that is not always possible, and sometimes a project’s scope changes because of positive expansion. Regardless of the reason, if a project’s scope changes, you will need to make resource allocation adjustments.
Being able to review the status of current resource utilization and identify the areas of greatest flexibility results in less headache and greater financial resource optimization. Understanding where large-scale resource adjustments are needed to account for scope adjustments also means knowing when to request budget adjustments and present specific data to support the request.
An expanding project deadline may mean reallocating resources to avoid idle, and therefore unprofitable, time while remaining poised to resume the original project when needed to reduce lag time. Alternatively, a tightened deadline requires knowing what can be fast-tracked and how much extra of any given resource might be needed.
Forecasting possible challenging scenarios not only reduces losses in time and profit but strengthens client and personnel relationships by creating an environment of trust, transparency, and satisfaction by being prepared with a solutions-focused mind set and avoiding unnecessary over- or under-allocation of staff. Being able to plan for unknown variables creates a sense of confidence in the project overall.
Make Project Life Easier with Journyx
Journyx PX allows project managers and other stakeholders to visually track resource usage across projects and even non-project activities. Managers can control budget demands and manage project costs by constructing their project plans from the start with its list of tasks, schedule, cost and work estimates, and resource availability. They can also monitor updates in real time, all while tracking productivity and performance in order to make informed personnel decisions.
HIPAA Ready, LLC, a Journyx PX user, found that employee tracking of their time and projects, and the subsequent transparent communication about projected versus actual time on projects, increased their ability to adjust the project plan and improve future project plans.
Widespread utilization of Journyx PX to collect the best data is easy, especially for remote or field-based personnel, using the available mobile app. With access to resource planning tools through the app, managers can also stop feeling glued to their desks or worrying about forgetting to log crucial data. They’ll have the functionality to track project time and expenses, such as current and past timesheets and expenses, as well as upload receipt images from either their Android or iOS device.
Integration with Existing Platforms
Journyx integrates with most other enterprise and cloud systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics and Quickbooks, to synchronize data, reducing the need for manual entry and redundancy and increasing the full picture of a project. This real-time access to data on large projects, on-demand service requests, administrative work, and leave time all in one system allows managers to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources and optimize performance.
Having access to clear-cut visuals and detailed reports means being able to strategize about allocating money, personnel, and attention to where they will provide the greatest value. For more information about how Journyx can support your organization with resource allocation, schedule a customized demo online or call (800) 755-9878.