The number one reason for projects to fail is not because of lack of talent or skill, but poor project management methodologies. Resource management and proper resource allocation is a crucial element of project management and plays a key role in determining the success of the project.
If resources are poorly allocated or mismanaged, then it invariably leads to the failure of the project. While this holds true in single-project environments, the impact is significantly high in multiple-project environments.
Here, in today’s post, we take a look at the problems and issues that crop up when resources are shared among simultaneous projects and discuss the ways to overcome these issues.
Challenges of Resource Allocation in Multiple Project Environments
In a perfect world, you would have a clearly defined set of resources (employees and equipment), which you use for a particular project. Once that project is over, you would move the entire team to the next project. However, resource allocation in real-time is significantly complex.
Multiple Projects:Most businesses, irrespective of nature, size, and industry, have multiple projects going on at once. Multiple project environments have become the norm today. The approach to resource allocation in a multiple project environment is highly different from the approach you use in a single project environment.
Limited Resources: Gone are the days when businesses had sufficient resources to staff every single project fully. With increasing competition and hectic deadlines, today all employees must multi-task. For instance, if you have ten concurrent projects in your business, then it’s highly likely that resources are shared across these projects. This means, your employees work on multiple projects and must multi-task.
Overlaps and Conflicts: Scheduling resources across projects pose a different set of problems, as you have the same team members on different teams, and monitored by more than one project manager. It becomes all the more complicated when project priorities overlap. This not only causes resource allocation conflict but also impacts the quality of the output and project delivery schedules.
Stress and Burnout: When there is a constant tug-of-war among teams for resources, it could cause your best (in-demand) resources to feel stressed and burned out.
Switching Resources Between Projects: As the head of resource allocation, you have to constantly switch resources from one project to another, without impacting project schedules and over or under-allocating resources. It’s no mean task.
Avoid Resource Conflicts with Good Resource Allocation
In this post; we share with you the top tips and methodologies for successfully allocating resources:
- Involve all Managers in Resource Allocation
Before you start allocating resources between projects, get all your team leaders and project managers together. Let them state the resource requirements for the projects they are handling. Get ideas and inputs from all on how to manage resource conflicts.
Collaborate – your team managers are likely to have some creative ideas on how to juggle tasks and to share resources so that all projects get completed as per schedule.
Pro Tip: Let this initial planning meeting be a place without any critical evaluations. If a manager states he/she is under-allocated, then trust them, instead of giving your feedback. Work with all team leads to make plans and adjust workloads so that resource scheduling and allocation starts on the right foot.
- Try to Eliminate Resource Overlaps between Projects
Constantly shifting a resource from one project to another reduces the efficiency of the employee, as he/she doesn’t have the time to remain completely focused on one project. For instance, when you allocate an in-demand resource for five days on Project A, five days on Project B, and three days again on Project A, in reality, the resource has incomplete work on both the projects.
A study shows that when interrupted, employees take 25% more time to finish a primary task. To ensure that employees don’t lose out on productivity, try to eliminate overlaps and constant shifts from one project to another.
Pro Tip: If you are shifting an employee mid-way through a project, then make sure that he/she has completed an entire module (a chunk of work) before going to the next project.
- Plan Ahead for the Peak Activity Slots
All projects have varying busy times. For instance, the development team will have higher demands and need for more resources during the delivery stage, while resource need for the dev team reduces during the testing phase. On the other hand, for the testing team, it’s vice versa (resource demand is higher during testing and lower during the build stage).
Apart from this, the project end time is a busy time for all teams, as everyone tries to wrap up last-minute activities before the project completion. Keep an eye on the time projects are expected to go live so that no two teams end up requiring the same set of resources at the same time.
Pro Tip: While deciding on the delivery time schedules for different projects, try to stagger the delivery schedule, so that the peak activity times of projects don’t overlap. Delaying the delivery schedule by just a week makes a huge difference in resource allocation.
- Let Resources Work according to Priorities
Let’s assume that you have one person working on two different projects: Project A and Project B at the same. His work in Project A is a low priority, while his work in Project B is a high priority. It doesn’t make sense for this person to work on Project A (the low priority task) while holding up everything else on Project B (the high priority task).
Pro Tip: Ensure that all resources complete higher priority tasks before working on lower priority tasks, even when both have similar delivery schedules.
- Don’t Over Schedule
It’s impossible for a resource to work at 100% efficiency all through the lifecycle of the project. While this may seem obvious, most managers fail to consider this simple fact while allocating resources. Everyone (even the most dedicated employees) require a little downtime during projects to sip a leisurely cup of coffee, linger over lunch and to recharge their energy levels.
There are days when people are not able to work to their 100% efficiency due to personal reasons. Most managers, when allocating resources for a single project, only allocate up to 80% of the time of the resource.
But, when it comes to multiple projects, they end up allocating a resource to their maximum capacity (100%).
Pro Tip: Be realistic and aim for 80% allocation of resources across projects. This way, you can use resources for any urgent tasks, without disrupting the entire schedule.
- Plan for Absences
While allocating resources, most managers fail to consider absences – both planned and sudden. Make sure to consider the time off of each team member during allocation. By scheduling work for team members when they have planned to take off, you are likely to disrupt the schedule of multiple projects.
Pro Tip: Have a couple of resources as a backup to allocate to urgent tasks, when a team member is absent all of a sudden.
- Use Resource Allocation Tools like the eResource Scheduler
Take advantage of the various advanced features of the eResource Scheduler for resource allocation and workload scheduling. The cloud-based resource allocation tool is highly configurable, and the drag-n-drop planning tools make resource allocation a breeze. The powerful reports make it easy to spot over-allocated resources, and also help you identify real-time availability of resources so that you can quickly assign urgent tasks to the right resources.
Advanced features like resource levelling (balancing the workload so that no one resource is overstretched), granular and overall view of resource availability, and complete database of all resources in hand, make it easy to compare and manage resource allocations across projects.
The easy-to-use dashboard presents real-time resource availability and schedule to all managers, so everyone knows who is working on what, till when and other details. This way, resources can be shuffled around without any clashes and delaying projects.
Pro Tip: If you are unsure whether the eResource Scheduler is the right fit for your organization and specific requirements, you can start a free trial. This way, you can get a hands-on experience of the different features and functionalities of the software, and evaluate whether it meets your specific resource allocation challenges.
Put an End to Resource Conflicts with the Right Approach
Use the seven simple but efficient tips listed above and resolve resource allocation conflicts across multiple projects and stay on top of your project schedules.