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A person looking at a computer screen while presumably allocating resources

How to allocate resources

As your business continues to expand, you’ll need to figure out how to efficiently and cost effectively deliver projects on time and on—or if you’re lucky, under—budget. Whether for projects or daily operations, allocating the correct resources is crucial to ensuring long-term success for both your organisation and team.

Understanding resource allocation

The resource allocation definition is the process of assigning and scheduling assets that effectively supports your team’s goals, choosing the best available resources for your projects. Here, you’re able to manage and maximise resources throughout the duration of work so you avoid under or overutilisation of your employees.

Also known as resource management, resources are a significant investment and must be utilised properly for profitability and sustainability. With resource allocation, you ensure you and your teams have everything they need, when they need it.

Six steps for resource allocation

There are six steps you’ll need to complete to perform a successful resource allocation.

1. Create a project timeline

Using project management skills, you’ll divide your project into phases and build individual tasks within those phases. Next, you’ll manage those phases, rather than the project as a whole. You’ll also estimate the length of each phase by identifying the major tasks you’ll need to accomplish within each phase with milestones. Once you put this all together, you’ll map the tasks, phases, and milestones to build a project timeline.

2. Pinpoint significant resources and budget

Resource allocation is an integral part of this process because each task will be assigned the resources needed and those resources are managed within the task. Once you’ve completed your timeline, you’ll need to identify the resources needed to complete each task.

Each project will have its own set of necessary resources and will vary from project to project. The types of resources are:

  • People: Any teammates who contribute work to the project.

  • Equipment: Any types of tools or software you’ll need to produce resources from ideation to project delivery. Make sure to also take into account that specialty equipment requires a significant investment of time and money.

  • Materials: Consumable items you’ll need—this includes items from office supplies to gas for your automobiles.

  • Facilities: Buildings and workspaces where your team will work.

  • Budget: The money you’ll need to purchase any of the resources above.

As you manage your project and its subsequent budget, you’ll track expenses within your project accounting to stay current and ensure you don’t spend more money than allotted per task.

3. Nominate available resources

Now you need to find and request the resources to meet your deadlines. This includes everything from gathering equipment and supplies, but also to finding team members who are available to work. While those resources are allowed to work on multiple projects at once, you need to be cognizant of their capacity.

4. Assign and allocate resources

After finding your resources, you’ll need to add them to the project. Be sure to plan for any challenges that may delay project completion—these challenges can range from software issues to stakeholder changes to organisational priority shifts. Here are some common challenges your team might face in trying to deliver an on-time project:

  • Resource availability

  • Changes in project scope

  • Differences in location and time zones

  • Process and task delays

While some of these challenges have a bigger impact than others, all of these can slow down the delivery of a project. But luckily for many of these, you’ll have the luxury of identifying and planning contingency plans and corresponding techniques to apply ahead of time if any of these occur during your project.

5. Track project schedule

It may seem simple, but any change can affect your entire project timeline from that point forward so make sure to pad your time accordingly. Watch out for:

  • Overworked and overutilized team members.

  • Unplanned holidays or sick time off.

  • Delayed tasks that’ll cause significant delays to dependent tasks.

  • Changes to business goals and objectives.

Some tools like professional services automation (PSA) software offer opportunities to help automate time-consuming, administrative tasks like time tracking, project management, billing, and more.

6. Choose a technique for tackling roadblocks

You’ll rarely ever hit every task when originally planned and finish a project on the exact dates. Depending on your project’s delivery date, you may have some flexibility when you can finish certain tasks. There are two techniques you can use if you find yourself running behind schedule: resource smoothing and resource leveling.

Resource levelling works well when you have limited or shared resources, but you have the option to extend your timeline. Resource smoothing is best for optimising the resources you have available, but you have a deadline that can’t be extended.

Choosing which technique works best will depend on how malleable your timeline will be. Whichever technique you choose, you need to be sure your management tool is as flexible as you are.

Optimise resources with Dynamics 365 Project Operations

While building your project’s timeline and allocating members to particular tasks, you need to be confident that your team is project-centric, deadline driven, and success orientated without ever feeling like they might go over budget.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations offers the tools streamline projects, effectively utilise tasks, and lead a profitable collaboration within a single solution. Manage your team’s time-consuming administrative work so they can focus on the creative heavy lifting.