Considering how finding the right people to do the task at hand is the crux of successful resource management, effective resource allocation is of paramount importance. Resource allocation is the diligent deployment of resources on to tasks based on their skill set and timelines. However, managers are often forced to allocate resources by virtue of situations rather than strategic decisions. But adopting practices that promote healthy allocation can change everything.
Some of the methods that can take you along this path include optimising the utilization levels of all resources involved. Further, with all-round visibility, allocation becomes a lot more nuanced and channelized. Basing your allocation on insights drawn from booked vs actual numbers, diversifying the skill sets and responsibilities you entrust upon your staff and a simplified resource request process are just some of these methods.
So let us visit some of these steps in detail:
1. Make room for strategic reallocation
Your allocation responsibilities seldom end with the first instalment as reallocation is an unavoidable outcome of ad hoc requirements. But reallocation does not necessarily mean overloading work onto the same set of resources. Strategic reallocation lets you look for replacements and a few extra hands that can take on the additional responsibility. Such smart reallocation invariably depends on the all-round visibility of your projects and resources. This is essential to keep your workforce occupied optimally.
2. Diversify skill sets and responsibilities
It always pays to have resources who have been trained in a wide range of skills or at least those who are accustomed to being placed onto different tasks. It is essential that you recognize the secondary skill sets your employees may have and nurture them. When faced with reallocation requirements that are likely to exceed your capacity, this could easily solve your immediate problems.
For example, one of your engineers is a communication minor and an amateur blogger. He/she can be a great asset to your internal branding activities that require an understanding of your products along with having a flair for the language. For employees, this can prove to be both motivating and fruitful to have been given a chance to diversify and grow. Stagnation is nobody’s dream and good managers not only understand that but also accommodate it in their allocation strategy.
3. Subscribe to an easy, automated resource request process
One of the most obvious hindrances to your resource allocation process is often the convoluted process you need to stick to while having a resource placed onto your project or job. Having to manually sift through your resource pool or take phone/email requests from individual managers makes it a very unyielding ride before you can find the project resource you are looking for.
An automated process in a dedicated channel, independent of spreadsheets, changes everything. Automated resource requesting lets managers specify the skill sets, the level of competency and years of experience they are looking for along with timelines of the project. This directly reaches your inbox or that of the resource manager in charge. Coupled with all round visibility, you can allocate and reallocate without batting an eyelid thereby saving precious hours. In addition, a set process lets you track your allocation record and end any process related confusions that may arise when you cannot trace resources.
4. Make ‘optimal utilization’ the benchmark
Having optimal utilization as the default status that your reports achieve is the first sign that you have healthy allocation habits. When resource utilization levels are optimal across the pool, it means you are not over or under allocating onto your resources under any circumstances. As a result, the output that your resources deliver does not suffer as well. Optimal utilization must further be the overall outcome you get as opposed to a chanced upon the result of ad hoc measures. Every method you adopt to allocate must fulfil this criterion.
5. Base timelines on booked vs. actual reports
To tie in all these steps realistically, it is best that you base your estimates on the booked vs. actual reports you draw. If you do not have a tool that lets you directly access these comparisons, you can do so manually by comparing them with earlier project reports that you might have.
The steps here are simple: analyze the previous bookings you have made and the time that their actual execution took. If the execution took longer, there must have been roadblocks that caused them. Understand the roadblocks. Evaluate whether or not they will repeat themselves. Now, you can draw timelines for tasks based on this execution period. With each repeat cycle, you are likely to get closer to making accurate bookings. Most importantly, you will not have under or over-utilized resources either.
Alternatively, switching to a resource planning tool that has been designed to help you asses booked vs. actuals with precise metrics is a great initiative you could take to improve your overall resource allocation strategy.
The best-kept secret of resource managers is the ‘trial and error’ system they have had to undergo before they could perfect efficient allocation of resources. Most success stories are likely to have precedent failures that are not spoken about. So go on, be unconventional, apply a combination of these practices and find out what your team is most receptive towards.
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