Resources Considerations in Projects, Resource Allocation

Resources are people, equipment, place, money, or anything else that you need in order to do all of the activities that you planned for. Every activity in your activity list needs to have resources assigned to it. Before you can assign resources to your project, you need to know their availability. Resource availability includes information about what resources you can use on your project, when they’re available to you, and the conditions of their availability. Don’t forget that some resources, like consultants or training rooms, have to be scheduled in advance, and they might only be available at certain times. You’ll need to know this before you can finish planning your project. If you are starting to plan in January, a June wedding is harder to plan than one in December, because the wedding halls are all booked up in advance. That is clearly a resource constraint. You’ll also need the activity list that you created earlier, and you’ll need to know how your organization typically handles resources. Once you’ve got a handle on these things, you’re set for resource estimation.

Resources Considerations in Projects

The goal of activity resource estimating is to assign resources to each activity in the activity list. There are five tools and techniques for estimating activity resources.

(i) Expert judgment means bringing in experts who have done this sort of work before and getting their opinions on what resources are needed.

(ii) Alternative analysis means considering several different options for how you assign resources. This includes varying the number of resources as well as the kind of resources you use. Many times, there’s more than one way to accomplish an activity and alternative analysis helps decide among the possibilities.

(iii) Published estimating data is something that project managers in a lot of industries use to help them figure out how many resources they need. They rely on articles, books, journals, and periodicals that collect, analyze, and publish data from other people’s projects.

(iv) Project management software such as Microsoft Project will often have features designed to help project managers estimate resource needs and constraints and find the best combination of assignments for the project.

(v) Bottom-up estimating means breaking down complex activities into pieces and working out the resource assignments for each piece. It is a process of estimating individual activity resource need or cost and then adding these up together to come up with a total estimate. Bottom-up estimating is a very accurate means of estimating, provided the estimates at the schedule activity level are accurate. However, it takes a considerable amount of time to perform bottom-up estimating because every activity must be assessed and estimated accurately to be included in the bottom-up calculation. The smaller and more detailed the activity, the greater the accuracy and cost of this technique.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION

Resource allocation is a critical part of managing any project. If you have a task, project or program to accomplish, you’re going to need resources allocated to your project to help you get it done. You’ll need skilled professionals (e.g.,creatives, writers, developers, construction workers), tools (e.g., software, hardware, meeting rooms), and time to get everything done. In virtually every type of industry, effective resource allocation is key to delivering projects on time and on budget.

Resource allocation is the process of assigning and managing assets in a manner that supports an organization’s strategic goals.

Resource allocation includes managing tangible assets such as hardware to make the best use of softer assets such as human capital. Resource allocation involves balancing competing needs and priorities and determining the most effective course of action in order to maximize the effective use of limited resources and gain the best return on investment.

In practicing resource allocation, organizations must first establish their desired end goal, such as increased revenue, improved productivity or better brand recognition.

WHAT IS RESOURCE ALLOCATION AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Virtually every project, product launch, website makeover, and anything else an organization might create or update needs resources allocated to it. After all, without the right resources, how would anything get done? First, let’s take a look at the basic types of resources you might need or encounter in managing a project:

  • People These resources are writers, editors, user experience (UX) designers, art directors, account people, traffic managers, freelance or contract resources, developers, testers — the people with the skills you need to get your project done.
  • Time This is the total amount of time (days, weeks, months, years) you have to bring your project over the finish line. While the end date of the project may already be decided, you can divide increments of time in that period to ensure your project stays on track.
  • Tools and capital If your project team needs a dedicated “war room,” let’s say, or access to specific equipment to create special features or products, these will have to be planned for during the resource allocation phase of project management and allocated appropriately.

WHO IS INVOLVED IN RESOURCE ALLOCATION?

On the most granular level, a project or program manager is responsible for resource allocation. The project manager needs to assess what types of people, time, and tools will be needed throughout a project’s schedule. However, in most organizations, project managers don’t have resource staff who report to them. They need to work with department heads in development, IT, creative, content, and others whose direct reports will be asked to contribute to the project.

Some companies and agencies have a traffic or resource manager who can take a high-level view on who in which department is doing what during the time frame in question. That person would  act as a go-between with the department head (the person who is doing the work’s actual manager) and the project manager to help coordinate the allocation of resources.

In smaller organizations, a project manager might  speak informally with a potential resource – let’s say a copywriter – and say, “How does your workload look next week? We got a request for eight to ten hours of copywriting and editing four web pages.” That writer could say if he or she had time available, then the project manager would have to get formal approval from their manager, and mark the resourcing in in the company’s tracker.

Occasionally, over the course of a long project where the creative people are working closely with clients or internal stakeholders, a creative resource might be asked for by name. If a project needs a mini campaign of, say, banner ads, and the client knows a specific writer has skill in that area, the client might request that specific writer to be allocated to the project. Whether that can be accommodated depends upon that resource’s other commitments and other business factors. The project manager would typically have the final say over which resources are allocated to a project.

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