If you want to manage your projects, resources, and time efficiently, then smart resource scheduling is the key. But when you schedule organizational resources, you need to juggle a lot of things. For example, forecasting the resource requirements, tackling employee requests, and ensuring capacity and shift coverage. Resource scheduling also includes managing costs of resources, ensuring that projects stay on track, and maximizing productivity. If you do not assign the right resources to the right task at the right time, then the entire project can be derailed. Though resources are available in any organization, they’re mostly limited and constrained. So, what is the key to success here? Utilizing them efficiently makes all the difference. So, let’s see some smart ways to schedule resources accurately and efficiently while meeting the deadlines every time.
Best Practices for Accurate Resource Scheduling
Efficient resource scheduling results in successful project deliveries, happier employees, and satisfied customers. Keep in mind the following tips for scheduling organizational resources in a better way and enhancing your productivity and profitability.
1. Identify all the Tasks and Resources
To schedule organizational resources right, the first step is to identify all the tasks that must be completed and what resources are available. If you make a mistake in this calculation, then other steps will be affected too. When you do project planning, you should list all the tasks that have to be completed. Listing all the tasks, calculating the time expected to complete each task, and the resources needed to do so. Resources include employees, contractors, equipment, and facilities. It’s essential to find out the overall capacity of your employees or team to create a solid project plan.
Knowing all this ensures that you can assign resources to various tasks accurately and forecast how long these resources will be required. For example, you should set your employees’ schedules so that they can accomplish the projects assigned to them without any problem. Otherwise, your organization will have to deal with a situation known as a schedule conflict. It happens when an employee’s schedule is in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for them to do and complete their job.
One of the common examples of schedule conflict includes overlapping allocations which occur when an employee works on two unrelated projects simultaneously. In this case, it’s essential to identify all the tasks and the available employees to work on them ahead of time. This is where a project scheduling tool enters the picture. It can help you address a schedule conflict by checking any double work allocations and fixing them immediately before no task is done according to the deadline.
2. Map your Requirements by Role and Location
The next step is to decide exactly how many resources are needed for various roles in each location and different shifts. For instance, to develop an e-learning training program, you may need two instructional designers, three graphic designers, and a couple of programmers for three months to complete the project on time. Then, you also need to ensure that all locations, departments, or verticals are accurately staffed. These days, many organizations are moving from spreadsheets to cloud-based resource management software to manage precise resource scheduling.
3. Estimate Performance Capacity of your Team
With organizations handling multiple projects and people spread out in distributed or remote teams, it’s tough to gauge the capacity accurately. If employees working on a project are aligned to multiple projects, it’s important to calculate how much time in which weeks or hours do they have free. It’s also vital to identify the skill set that each member of your team possesses. Which competencies are their core area of interest and skill vis-a-vis some newly acquired skill? Besides technical skills, you should also find out their organizational, social, or team-leading qualities. In case, you identify some skills gaps or developmental needs, plan on how those can be resolved. With the right resource scheduling software, you can do all this in very easy steps and with precision.
4. Lay Down Accurate Time Estimates
If you want your resource scheduling to be accurate, you need to calculate accurate time estimates. Determine for how long you will need a resource for a specific task. You should also consider if a resource is working on other projects simultaneously. Never vaguely guess time estimates without having proper data or evidence to validate it. That would result in tasks and budget getting off-track. Also, avoiding inaccurate time estimates because of the pressure of completing a job earlier is very important as that would lead to poor results. If you calculate time estimates accurately, your resource scheduling will be perfect, and all your stakeholders will be happy. To calculate precise time estimates, use resource scheduling software.
5. Opt for a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
Imagine you’ve got a new project, and you don’t know how to schedule your resources. You may be unsure of the work volume and how many resources you may need. Creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) structure involves first breaking all tasks and subtasks under a project that results in the final deliverable. Making use of a WBS ensures you don’t miss out on any steps. It’s a tree diagram for your project which shows the final deliverable on top. Under that, various branches that are leading to it are typically the tasks and subtasks which form various milestones. If this list is complete and accurate, then your resource schedule will also be precise.
6. Resource Allocation and Leveling
Do you know how these two terms differ? Resource allocation means assigning particular resources to some specific tasks. However, resource levelling is an approach used for resource allocation that sets a priority for resource availability within a specific project schedule. Both resource allocation and levelling aid in efficient allocation of resources. This ensures that delays in the completion of projects is avoided and hence leads to profitability. Timely completion of project tasks avoids any conflicts within the team and budget overruns. By avoiding under- and over- allocation of resources, a project can be completed on time and on budget.
7. Try Using Resource Smoothing
Another technique for resource scheduling is resource smoothing. Here, we focus on the time constraint more than anything else. So, deadlines are the most important in project management in this case. It is a technique where the project managers adjust the activities in a project schedule in such a way that all resource requirements do not go over the resource limits that are already established during the planning. There is an understanding that there are only some reusable or limitless resources. Hence the schedules must be adjusted to deal with the limited availability of the resources in a specific time period.
8. Create a Risk Management Strategy
Things go wrong even with best laid-out plans, and you should be prepared for it. Therefore, having a risk management strategy in place helps in efficient resource scheduling. So, you should analyze what all could happen if something goes wrong. How would you manage uncertainty and unforeseen risks that might creep in? Take the time to find some solutions for such risks beforehand. Always create a plan where you can leave some room to make last-minute changes and juggle between your resources, time, and money. When you include some buffer time and risk into your schedules and time estimates, then you can do better resource schedules. A resource scheduling software helps in creating accurate schedules while having a risk management strategy in place.
9. Assign Resources Wisely
After listing all the tasks in a project and identifying the risks, determine how many resources are needed, and then check their availability. Now, you can create a resource schedule that can avert any expensive bottlenecks. Thus, you should assign your resources wisely. Depending on the resources available, and their capacity, the timeline may change or be delayed. A resource scheduling software helps in making well-informed decisions and assigning resources effectively.
Also, with an efficient assignment of resources, you can minimize the overall costs and expenses. Generally, scheduling resources manually may lead to errors and more time spent with additional costs. Hence, it’s essential to use a scheduling tool to automate this process and avoid unnecessary costs for your organization.
10. Review Previous Resource Schedules
It’s also important to check what strategy earlier project managers used and were those projects delivered successfully? If you are following any new approach in your project, how will it affect the timelines? It’s also important to gauge if some new resources with more high-level skills are available now? Or if there is a newer technology, a database, project template, or a set of tools that could speed up your work? A resource scheduling software provides templates for plans from earlier successful projects that can be reused. It also acts as a central database to save all information about projects, resources, and best practices.
Thus, if your organization plans to make some changes to your resource scheduling processes, you can extract the data you need from the software to conduct an analysis. You can then use your findings to improve your company’s best practices and other relevant processes.
Use a Leading Solution for Resource Scheduling – eResource Scheduler
Implementing the right solution for resource scheduling can make a huge difference. Want to optimize your resources and gain the best utilization percentage so far? Implement eResource Scheduler to transform your resource scheduling process. This solution acts as an online repository of all your projects and global resources. It offers real-time visibility of all the resources in an organization, the projects they are aligned on, and their performance. This award-winning tool enhances your resource utilization by almost 18 to 30%. That’s not all. It ensures load levelling across team members. This resource scheduler also flags any resource shortages and accordingly devises an effective hiring plan. Plan to take a free trial of eResource Scheduler soon and make well-informed resourcing decisions.