How to Track Resource Utilization?

- By Om Gupta | February 27, 2024
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Growing the business and services is the topmost priority for every organization. However, simply allocating resources to projects does not guarantee productivity. They must be effectively utilized on billable or strategic work to get maximum efficiency.

Resource utilization is a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that affects the success of projects. Tracking resource utilization helps to evaluate and improve productivity by ensuring that all the resources within an organization are being used to their highest potential.

This article takes you through how to track resource utilization effectively using an intuitive tool.

Let’s begin.

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How to calculate resource utilization?

Resource utilization is the way to measure how effectively the resources are utilized against their availability or capacity. In other words, it is the process of monitoring team productivity and analyzing whether they are under or overworked. It is calculated using the formula:

Resource Utilization Formula = (Actual/allocated work time)/Resource capacity

It can be measured in hours/days/percentage and FTE (Full-time equivalent).

Optimal Utilization- It is the process of maximizing the utilization of resources to achieve the most out of their available capacity. While calculating the available capacity, their planned leaves, training schedule, or any other admin-related activities are also considered.

Note: A consistently higher resource utilization rate (>100%) does not inherently mean increased productivity and efficiency. Rather, it can often turn out to be counter-productive.

Managers can predict the utilization rates of the resources based on the resource schedules and implement necessary measures to optimize them.

Now that we know how to calculate the utilization rate, let’s understand the significance of a resource utilization report.

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Importance of Resource Utilization Report

Most advanced resource management tools provide resource utilization reports and heat maps. Let’s look at the benefits:

Improves resource planning for future projects

Comprehensive visibility into the real-time utilization levels of the resources helps assess what resources are under/overutilized against their capacity. Consequently, it enables managers to monitor the resources’ performance at any given point, i.e., their actual usage against the planned allocation. This insight helps them identify any resource utilization-related constraints and bottlenecks. Thus, managers can proactively take measures to engage in better resource planning for future projects.

Capacity planning for pipeline projects

Utilization reports help project managers understand the current resource demand by analyzing how resources are utilized. This information allows them to forecast future resource requirements more accurately and take necessary resourcing measures to meet the pipeline projects’ demands if needed. For instance, in case of resource shortage, managers can hire new employees, train existing staff, or allocate benched personnel to these future opportunities to bridge the gap.

Improves ROI and profitability

When resources engage in strategic or billable projects, it ensures that they are meaningfully contributing to revenue generation and improving the ROI. With centralized visibility into resource utilization reports and color-coded heatmaps, resource managers can identify resources that are not engaged in productive/billable work. Thus, firms can systematically mobilize benched resources or resources working on BAU activities to strategic/ billable opportunities and enhance the firm’s top and bottom lines.

Read more: What is Resource Utilization? A Complete Guide to Improve Business Efficiency

Factors Affecting Resource Utilization

Resource utilization is influenced by several factors that can impact the efficiency and effectiveness of resource usage. It includes,

Availability of resources:

Resource availability is a critical factor that impacts the overall utilization of resources. When there is a resource crunch, utilization tends to be lower because there aren’t enough resources to complete project tasks. In contrast, when resources are abundant, utilization tends to be higher as more staff is readily available to take on various assignments.

Resource costs:

The cost of resources is another essential factor that can impact their utilization. Expensive resources may be used more conservatively, while resources that are more affordable may be used more extensively. The total cost of resourcing should be considered when determining the value of utilizing a particular resource, as it may include additional overhead expenses.

Resource capacity:

Resource capacity refers to the amount of work that a resource can achieve within a specific time period. Moreover, capacity is an essential consideration as it helps to ensure that the workload is manageable and that resources are utilized efficiently. Resources with higher capacity (full-time employees) can be utilized more effectively, while resources with lower capacity (part-time or contingent workers) may require more selective utilization.

Skill proficiency:

Skill proficiency plays a significant role in resource utilization because it determines the level of efficiency with which a resource can be utilized. When a resource is experienced and highly-skilled, they can complete tasks faster with precision, resulting in higher-quality deliverables and increased productivity. This, in turn, can lead to better resource utilization as more work can be accomplished within a less time. On the other hand, a resource with average skills may be limited in the types of tasks they can perform, which can result in lower utilization levels.

These factors play a critical role in determining how resources are utilized. Now, let’s learn about the different types of resource utilization formulas.

Resource utilization vs. resource allocation: How are they different?

Resource allocation is the process of identifying and assigning competent resources to appropriate tasks or projects. The primary focus of allocation is planning and distributing resources efficiently across all current and pipeline projects.

In contrast, resource utilization is a measure of how resources are used against their availability or capacity. The primary focus of resource utilization is to assess whether resources are being used to their full potential and identify opportunities to improve productivity, reduce capacity wastage, or reassign resources if necessary.

Before project initiation, managers will allocate available resources to tasks based on their capacity. Once the allocation is complete, they will periodically monitor the utilization levels of every resource throughout the project lifecycle to ensure that employees are not under or overloaded.

Now that we understand the difference between these concepts, let’s learn how to calculate resource utilization.

How to Measure Different Types of Resource Utilization?

Overall resource utilization is one of the main KPIs of a cost center. It can be further split into billable utilization, non-billable utilization, and strategic utilization.

Overall resource utilization

Overall resource utilization is the method of measuring the total utilization of a resource against its availability or capacity. It is the cumulative time that an employee
spends on billable, non-billable, and strategic activities. It can be calculated by comparing the total resource capacity against the total work allocated to an employee.
Which means;

Overall Resource Utilization = (Actual/Allocated Total Time)/Resource Capacity

Billable resource utilization

Billable resource utilization is the way to measure how much a resource is utilized for billable work against the resource capacity or availability. The time spent by a resource on billable work is termed billable time for which the client has committed to pay.

Which implies;

Billable Resource Utilization = (Actual/Allocated Billable Time)/Resource Capacity

Non-billable resource utilization

Non-billable resource utilization is a method of measuring time spent by a resource on an activity that cannot be billed to a client. This time is generally related to BAU, internal meetings, admin, training & workshop, bidding work, etc.

Which means;

Non-Billable Resource Utilization = (Actual/Allocated Non-Billable Time)/Resource Capacity

Strategic resource utilization

Srategic resource utilization is the method of measuring how much a resource is utilized for strategic projects. It is the time spent by a resource that is related to a strategic activity to meet the long-term goal of the organization.

We measure strategic utilization as:

Strategic Resource Utilization = Actual/Allocated Strategic Time

Resource Capacity

Read more: How to Measure Different Types of Resource Utilization

How to Track Resource Utilization?

Analyze forecast vs. actual reports

Keeping a tab on utilization levels is imperative to assess employees’ productivity. However, it’s not easy to do so for every resource manually. There are advanced resource-tracking tools that can help you track resource and project performance in real-time.

A robust resource scheduler can let managers periodically check utilization levels across multiple dimensions. Moreover, managers can draw a comparison using actual vs. forecast utilization reports. The actual number of hours is drawn from the timesheets, and the forecast time is taken from the resource schedule.

Monitor the utilization of different categories

It is important to periodically monitor and track resource utilization under different categories. Below-mentioned are three main categories in which you can track resource utilization: Project, Team, or Individual.

  • Project

In this scenario, the cumulative utilization calculation of all the resources working on a specific project is considered. An appropriate tool can aggregate and display this information as per the requirement.

  • Team

In a shared-services model, it is required to track and monitor the team’s utilization effectively. They either work on specific issue resolution based on a ticket or work under multiple project managers.

  • Individual

Tracking individual resource utilization based on the allocated work against the resource capacity lets managers evaluate the resource performance. It ensures that the resources are neither under or overutilized.

Read more: What is Resource Forecasting? An Ultimate Guide for Project Managers

Now that we know how to measure resource utilization in project management let us understand the ways to maximize it:

How to Maximize Productive Utilization?

100% utilization doesn’t necessarily mean the resources are productive. It is essential to check that they are not engaged in mundane admin activities. Thus, the onus is on resource managers to ensure their utilization is productive and their skillset is used to the maximum potential.

The question is how to improve utilization without draining the resources.

Well, the right enterprise resource management tool can help here.

Gain real-time visibility into resource schedules

Organizations need to have real-time visibility into current and future resource schedules to prevent scheduling conflicts such as double bookings and under or over-allocation. A multi-dimensional resource scheduling software can help you gain a 360-degree view of the talent pool and their allocations.

The tool will help managers match competent resources to appropriate project tasks based on their skills, availability, and interests. Moreover, it will help them stay abreast of resources’ upcoming vacations, paid time off, and leaves. This granular view into employee schedules can help managers ensure the availability of key resources for project initiation and execution.

Identify over and underutilized resources

When the allotted work is less or more than the resource capacity, it causes under/overutilization of resources. Poor visibility of resources can contribute to this cause as it can lead to double booking, eventually causing overallocation.

The right resource management tool helps track resource utilization and detect under and over-utilized resources in a project. Therefore, it allows organizations to maintain optimal utilization of resources as well as a healthy resource index.

Forecast utilization ahead of time

With advanced forecasting techniques, managers can gain foresight into resource utilization ahead of time. This visibility helps managers to prevent instances of over and underutilization.

Moreover, forecasting utilization in advance enables managers to take corrective steps to ensure even workload distribution. They can periodically mobilize resources from low-priority tasks to high-priority, revenue-generating work, improving productive utilization.

Effective bench management

Bench management in any organization is an ongoing activity and must be carried out strategically. Reducing bench time entails minimizing non-billable hours that ensure the resources are allocated to billable or strategic work.

The right resource management software helps managers to forecast the demands of pipeline projects in advance. Using the project vacancy and benched reports, they can go ahead and fill the vacancies with the competent benched resources.

Reduce non-billable activities of resources

It is important for an organization to monitor the overall billable utilization of its highly skilled resources with optimal resource allocation. A resource is profitable only if its working hours are carried out on billable or strategic work and is fully utilized against its capacity.

Resource managers should do a utilization analysis and keep a check on resources so that they spend minimal or no time on mundane tasks such as meetings and discussions. It helps them enhance billability, prevent below-par employee performance, and gain maximum productivity and profitability.

Read More: Resource Management: A Comprehensive Handbook for Project Managers

Conclusion: Track Resource Utilization Smarter than Ever

Resources are the most important asset for any organization, and optimal resource utilization is crucial to improve productivity and profitability. If you are facing difficulties in monitoring staff utilization, step back and think if you are using the right resource management techniques and tools!!

Gathering reliable insights is one of the best ways that help managers to optimize the workforce and ensure maximum utilization of resources. The tttool’sreal-timeresource utilization report allows managers to understand the challenges and adopt strategies in advance.

How do you calculate utilization rates in your organization? When did you last hit the ideal utilization rate?

The Glossary

Read More: Glossary of Resource Workforce Planning, Scheduling and Management

Saviom Solution

SAVIOM is the market leader in offering the most powerful and configurable solutions for deploying appropriate resources to suitable projects. With over 20 years of experience, this Australia-based MNC has helped more than 100 clients across over 50 countries address specific business challenges. SAVIOM also provides tools for project portfolio management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software.

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