What is resource scheduling? Definition
Resource scheduling refers to efficient resource allocation and resource management. In this process, project managers try to match resources, such as personnel, equipment, materials, or facilities, to create a project schedule and complete tasks, projects, or activities within a given timeframe. As such, scheduling resources is a crucial aspect of project management and operational planning to maximize resource utilization while meeting project objectives and deadlines.
Perfect resource scheduling process in 5 steps
To schedule resources, you need more than just a gut feeling. You also need information on resource availability and resource demand, as well as other critical details you might not find in the stack of documents on your desk. Still, we know how to find them and create a perfect resource schedule.
Step 1: Identify critical resources required for your projects
Every project is different, and its project manager needs to consider that before jumping straight to resource planning. Before you do that, you need a comprehensive resource identification, also known as demand planning.
How to determine what and how many resources are required for this project?
Resource scheduling must be based strictly on the requirements established in the project scope or work breakdown structure. As you might have read in the link we added here, such a document specifies exactly what the operation and its elements need, its general project schedule, and what skills are required to complete the critical tasks on time. You can - and should - use that information to make your resource scheduling more accurate.
Based on the future project requirements included in the project scope, you should create a list of technical and human resources and their skills needed throughout the operation. For clarity, we suggest you express these requirements in hours and days - just like resource scheduling tools do.
Step 2: Identify project constraints and limitations affecting resource scheduling
The project schedule is not always merciful for a project manager. Deadlines, priorities, project milestones, and dependencies in project tasks drastically limit the number of team members one can add to resource schedules. Use the information on such factors to determine when exactly you will need certain resources and what might stand in your way in doing so.
Step 3: Analyze resource availability, capacity, and costs
Having prepared a list of skills required for your project, you need to move on to analyzing the future availability of the employees you will need.
Of course, not all of them will fit into your project schedule. For some of them, resource availability will be low or even nonexistent. At this point of the process, you need to move on to resource capacity planning to verify whether or not the team member you need has some free time to participate in your operation.
What about financial resource constraints?
Unfortunately, the project budget might also stand in the way of resource scheduling in project. In fact, it might be the factor that will limit your resource scheduling methods the most.
To avoid scheduling resources that are simply too expensive for a given operation, we highly recommend checking the wages or hourly rates of the employees you plan to assign tasks. Then, ensure that their work won't take a toll on planned resource costs, resulting in your budget being too small to complete the operation successfully.
Step 4: Allocate project resources
Having determined which employees your resource managers can use for proper resource scheduling, you can start to create a work plan for your project tasks - and your project as a whole.
To do that, open your preferred project resource scheduling software and create a project timeline. Then, use the project's scope from the first step to determine how many resources your resource schedule will require. Last but not least, assign tasks to them and check whether their dependencies were included in the project manager's vision.
In this step of effective resource scheduling, an Excel spreadsheet might be enough for smaller projects to support your resource management. However, we strongly recommend using more advanced resource scheduling software capable of using the information on resource demand to help project managers with scheduling in project management. Additionally, resource planning software can also spot any overlapping allocations, overutilization, and other common problems and ensure the timely delivery of your project.
Step 5: Confirm the correctness of the resource allocation
Competent resource allocation does not end when you turn of your resource management software. Moreover, such tools (or, in simpler cases, Excel spreadsheets) can further ensure that you made no mistake in resource capacity planning or your resource schedule.
Regardless of your choice of a resource scheduling system for project management, you should once again check that your plan contains no mistakes after finishing scheduling resources. Common errors among project managers include:
- too high resource utilization, resulting in overtimes,
- insufficient resource capabilities or skills - are you sure that a junior developer can do the senior's job?
- future projects that interfere with your schedule,
- any planned absences that might force you to look for additional resources for your project,
- not taking into consideration local holidays or other days off that might interfere with the project pipeline.
If you find any of these problems (or some others) in your resource scheduling, head to our article about solving schedule conflicts - we cover more solutions to the problems there.
Your resource schedule is ready!
Now it's time for the main part of project management - the project itself!
Of course, you might need to schedule resources also while the project is already under way - for example, when an employee takes sick leave or your project becomes a victim of a scope crawl. In that case, you should simply repeat these steps to create a new resource schedule once more or adapt an existing one.
How can I improve my resource management process
But what if you already have some experience in resource management?
In that case, there are a few things you can analyze to improve your process and fix common mistakes in resource scheduling.
Try resource smoothing (or resource leveling)
Overtimes or gaps in project schedule are common in your resource management? Resource smoothing might change that.
Also known as time-constrained scheduling (TCS) or resource-constrained scheduling, resource smoothing is a product management tool for optimizing workload in the project.
However, resource scheduling tools can make the process much easier for project managers while automating the monitoring of key information. The idea behind resource smoothing is adjusting all the activities of the scheduled project to the requirements for resources, ensuring that they don’t go beyond the resource limits already pre-defined during planning.
Read more about it in our article.
Can I use Excel for resource scheduling?
Excel might be useful for a few team members - although it is not an optimal solution for a few reasons.
Why is Excel insufficient for resource scheduling?
First and foremost, project managers spend hours of their time creating and editing the tables while they could focus on better resource scheduling or, perhaps, an entirely new project. This is, however, a very time-consuming process.
Secondly, it is difficult to monitor projects with such tools. It would also be difficult to track resources and time spent on their tasks.
Lastly, such documents are not automatically updated - it takes time, too. But before that time passes, your resource schedule might become irrelevant and incorrect, jeopardizing project managers' work.
But enough about the disadvantages of the current resource scheduling system - what would change if you had an ideal resource scheduling software?
What does Primetric's resource scheduling software offer?
Resource management software like Primetric is the key to scheduling resources in large institutions or teams, as they allow project managers to prepare accurate plans for all their future projects and turn them into reality.
First and foremost, Primetric can be used to estimate the actual time spent on tasks assigned to a given operation. Using that information, project managers can determine what human resources they will need to complete the project.
Then, Primetric can use the data from existing allocations to calculate capacity and availability required for resource scheduling. As a result, it can help you look for team members that can be assigned to your project immediately.
Most importantly, Primetric can be used for resource management itself. This resource scheduling software can be used to allocate people, verify their capacity and edit their assignments at will. The system will also make sure no mistakes are made thanks to intuitive notifications.
What are the benefits of resource scheduling?
Resource scheduling benefits organizations and projects, improving efficiency, productivity, and overall success. Some of its key advantages include:
- Optimal resource utilization: Efficient resource scheduling ensures that resources are allocated appropriately, avoiding over- or under-utilization and using resource capacity to the maximum. This improves productivity and reduces waste, leading to cost savings.
- Improved project planning: Resource scheduling helps create realistic project timelines and ensures that tasks are assigned to the right resources at the right time, enhancing the overall project planning process.
- On-time project delivery and improved project efficiency: By allocating resources effectively and managing task dependencies, resource scheduling helps complete projects on schedule and meet client expectations.
- Better workload management: Resource scheduling helps evenly distribute workloads among team members, preventing burnout and ensuring a more balanced work environment.
- Risk mitigation: Effective resource scheduling allows for identifying and mitigating potential risks related to resource availability, skills, or capacity, reducing the chances of project delays or failures
- Adaptive planning: With a well-defined resource schedule, project managers can adapt to changing circumstances or scope adjustments more easily, minimizing disruptions to the project.
- Cost management: By optimizing resource allocation, resource scheduling helps manage project costs, preventing overspending on unnecessary resources.
I want to have all the benefits of resource scheduling!
Great - your decision is the first step towards better resource planning and project scheduling.
Start with finding the right resource scheduling software - we happen to know one perfectly tailored to the needs of both your human resources and project managers. Simply book a demo with Primetric to learn more about professional project management.
Alternatively, if you want to learn more about resource management or resource utilization, go to our blog and read about: