Resource scheduling is the process of identifying, planning, and allocating resources for a specific period of time and for the purpose of successfully completing a particular set of tasks within a given project. The goal of resource scheduling is to prevent the over- or under-utilization of resources and allow companies to deploy a specific type of resource at exactly the right time.
Resource scheduling includes creating a project timeline that outlines when and where each type of resource will be used. It takes into account various factors, such as resource availability, project deadlines, workforce capacity, numerous task dependencies, etc.
Some components of resource scheduling are:
- Resource availability – revolves around identifying the availability of specific resources, such as personnel and equipment, that are required by the project. It takes into account factors like work hours, existing work obligations, shifts, etc.
- Task prioritization – allows companies to set priority levels for each task and shift resources to higher-priority activities.
- Time management – Apart from fostering a culture of increased accountability, a time management strategy also ensures that task duration, deadlines, and any potential delays are accounted for when creating a project timeline.
Resource utilization focuses on calculating the time specific resources are used for different tasks and then comparing that time to the availability of said resources. For example, it can be used to measure the amount of time various employees spend on different tasks and compare that time to their availability. Additionally, this metric is considered one the most common key performance indicators (or KPIs) as it can impact a company's or a project’s profitability.
There are numerous ways to measure resource utilization. Most commonly, it’s done by taking into account:
- General resource utilization
- Billable utilization
- Strategic utilization
- Non-billable utilization
By tracking the utilization of different types of resources, companies can shift them around when required to further boost billable utilization and ultimately, increase profits.
Resource estimation allows companies to forecast the utilization of various resources. This allows them to predict which resources might end up overused and which ones could be underutilized. It also allows for better capacity and workforce management.
In software development, resource estimation will involve assessing the need for human resources. For example, a manager could estimate that a specific project will need 4 software engineers for 8 months, with an approximate cost of $500,000. The resource estimation will consider skill sets, various phases, amount of tasks, historical data, etc. After it’s completed, the project manager can hire adequate personnel, plan a budget, and keep the project on track and within deadlines.
Resource planning encompasses the entire process of organizing, estimating, allocating, and deploying resources in the most efficient and productive manner. The most common types of resources are:
- Human resources (i.e. employees);
- Financial resources;
- Equipment and technology;
- Materials (usually for production of specific goods);
The objective of resource planning is to ensure that all resources are used effectively, with minimum waste, while also allowing companies to meet their business goals.
Resource leveling is all about managing workloads and ensuring that tasks are evenly distributed across all company resources.
Let's imagine a project in which a team of developers is working on different parts of an app. Now, let’s say that the project manager identifies two major tasks that can only be performed by a senior developer. But, the team only has one senior programmer.
If resource leveling is not used, the sole senior developer might end up overworked, which can lead to burnout and project delays. To avoid negative outcomes, the project manager should make adjustments to the schedule and allocate additional time for those tasks.
Resource smoothing ensures that resources don’t end up overused.
Let’s say that a specific hotel has increased occupancy during the summer season and the current workforce is not able to appropriately handle the surge in demand. To reduce the impact and overall workload, managers can employ resource smoothing to hire seasonal workers to help with the newfound demand and distribute the workload equally.
Ramifications of Poor Resource Management
Poorly managing resources and adopting inadequate strategies can negatively affect various business operations and ultimately harm a company's bottom line.
Here are just some of its negative ramifications:
- Increased costs;
- Decreased employee productivity;
- Delays and missed deadlines;
- Increased employee turnover;
- Worsening of client relationships;
Resource Management Tools
Using modern digital tools for resource management can help companies deal with various issues, especially when it comes to project management and business operations. These tools can help companies:
- Streamline the collaboration between project managers and their teams;
- Optimize resource allocation by providing unprecedented visibility into how they are utilized;
- Identify resource conflicts (when multiple tasks require the same type of resource at the same time);
- Simplify the reporting process;
- Make data-driven decisions;
Some of the most common types of tools that can be used for resource management include:
Time Tracking Software
Although not specifically designed for resource management, time-tracking software can be used to collect valuable information that can later be leveraged for resource management purposes.
Time-tracking apps can be used to gather data about:
- Billable hours;
- Employee work hours;
- Employee productivity;
- General availability of the entire workforce and individual employees;
Additionally, a lot of time-tracking apps, such as My Hours, can be easily integrated with various resource management tools allowing companies to take full advantage of modern technology.