Resource allocation is a very important part of the project management process. It covers a wide variety of activities that start with project initiation and organization and carry on to the final phases of project completion and reporting.
Generally, the project manager is held responsible for the resources and they have the authority to allocate the resources to different tasks. Ideally, the resources should be assigned in line with the project roadmap with priority tasks receiving higher resources followed by secondary and tertiary tasks.
Timely and well-planned resource allocation is important for completing projects within budget and schedule. While the process of resource allocation may seem simple, getting great results requires careful planning.
Understand the Importance of Resource Allocation for Projects
Resource allocation is crucial for projects because it gives a clear picture to team members about the required quantity of work. It allows project managers to divide and break up the project into smaller parts and each team member is given resources to complete their part of the project to achieve overall project goals.
There are two types of project resources; humans and project funds. When the project manager begins to allocate work to each team member, they also assign a number of resources to every person based on the tasks required.
The project manager can perform an environmental risk analysis at the time of this assignment, allowing them to provide a reasonable amount of resources to the task. This active monitoring of the environment is necessary for the successful completion of projects.
Resource allocation is also necessary to cut funding to ‘bleeding tasks’ or ‘sunk costs’ that are likely to drain project resources. If the project manager sees that certain tasks that were initially seen as necessary for project completion are no longer relevant or important, they can reduce or completely remove funding for these tasks.
Tips for Allocating Resources to Projects
In order to save costs and maximize project efficiency, project managers must ensure that resources are assigned in a controlled and pragmatic manner. Here are some useful tips for allocating resources to projects.
1. Understand the Project Scope
In order to make the best use of the resources, you should make sure that you understand the project requirements thoroughly so that you don’t overextend your resources. For example, suppose you are working on a facility construction project and investors would like you to build 2 bathrooms and 3 beds in the property. They set up an appropriate budget for it.
Now suppose that you are not clear on the requirements and order plumbing materials for 4 baths instead of two. If you spend time and money on building the extra baths, the client may not be very pleased with the outcome, even if you manage to over-perform and deliver more than what the project required.
Always study the project requirements in detail before you start ordering supplies and materials.
2. Identify Resources
To be a successful project manager, you should be able to identify the exact amount of resources you will need and allocate them to each task to get the project completed within budget and schedule.
Carefully review the team you are working with and understand the strengths and weakness of each individual. Understand when funds will be flowing in and when you will need to pay your vendors to ensure timely delivery of material and equipment.
If you thoroughly understand what is available to you (and when), you will find it much easier to assign the resources.
3. Look At the Bigger Picture
Consider the entire timeline of the project before you start assigning resources. Many projects run in phases and funds are assigned periodically at the completion of each stage. However, you may also receive entire project resources at the start and will need to be extra careful not to overspend during the early stages.
We have seen examples of many inexperienced project managers who were assigned entire budgets early on; they finished the entire budget on the first few phases. These projects never saw an end, as they were abandoned due to lack of funds. You certainly do not want that to happen to your projects if you want to build a reputation as a reliable project manager.
Look at the project as a whole and allocate funds sensibly across the length of the whole project.
4. Time Is Also a Resource
Some project managers get so engrossed in managing human and financial resources that they lose track of one of the most important resources that they have, i.e. time. Make sure that you keep a close eye on how much time your team members are spending on completing their tasks so that the project does not get delayed.
If a certain activity might take too long to complete with one person, consider assigning more members to it or increase the budget to get it done faster. Remember, people and funds can be replaced and acquired further but time cannot be purchased.
5. Be Pragmatic in Your Resource Allocation
Although you should be careful about spending too many resources on project tasks that can be completed for less, it does not mean you should have unrealistic expectations. If a certain project activity is going to require $5,000 based on market rates, do not set up a budget that is way below it, like $500.
Setting really high and impossible targets for your projects’ tasks will only end in failure. On one hand, it will cost time to get the task re-done correctly. On the other hand, failure will demotivate you and your team and raise questions about the feasibility of the project itself.
6. Account for Client Changes
In many cases, your client or investor will want you to incorporate changes into the work half-way through the project. These changes may be requested with additional funds from the client but that isn’t always the case.
As a smart project manager, you must maintain a contingency fund to cover the costs of these changes and still get the project completed within the initially allocated resources. The ability to incorporate client changes and still get everything completed within the budget is the sign of a great project manager.
These are our six tips for resource allocation on projects that will help you improve your project delivery. For more tips, please subscribe to [>>subscription] or get in touch with us at [>>contact details].