Want to learn how to allocate project resources effectively?
Masterchefs aren’t the only ones who need to choose and use the right ingredients!
Just like them, a project manager should also know how to allocate project resources wisely. After all, you don’t have unlimited resources for each project.
In this article, we’ll cover what resource allocation is and the four steps to allocate resources efficiently. We’ll also highlight two allocation challenges and four tips to help you master the art of resource allocation!
This Article Contains:
(click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is resource allocation?
- The 2 common challenges of resource allocation
- 4 tips for effective resource allocation
- How to allocate your resources in 4 simple steps
Let’s get cooking!
What Is Resource Allocation?
Resource allocation is the process of strategically assigning your resources to make the best use of them for your project.
Think of it this way:
In every Masterchef mystery box challenge, you get random ingredients to work with. You should then determine how to utilize those scarce resources to make an amazing dish.
Resource allocation is like a mystery box challenge — except that you know some of your resources beforehand (but that doesn’t make it any simpler!)
So what are your resources?
Project managers require resources to complete any project. Except, unlike in Masterchef, your resources aren’t cooking ingredients!
In project management, your resources include:
- Intangible resources: time, ideas, intellectual property, team skills
- Tangible resources: software, equipment, financial resources, real estate and most importantly, human resource
Given the fact that your teams might be working remotely due to COVID, real estate and office equipment aren’t that relevant, but you still might have to send laptops to your employees working from home.
Who is responsible for allocating these resources?
Project managers are generally responsible for strategic planning and effective resource allocation.
However, large organizations can have resource management departments with dedicated resource managers to take care of allocating resources.
But why is resource allocation necessary?
Without proper allocation, your resources wouldn’t be working on what they’re meant for.
It’d be like asking your pastry chef to take over bartending for the night.
Sure, they might be able to handle it, but they’d be far better off making scrumptious desserts for your customers!
When you allocate resources properly, you use them for what they’re meant for — helping your projects progress smoothly.
However, for proper resource allocation, you need an excellent allocation strategy.
Without which, you could face problems like:
- Lower productivity from each resource
- Lower cost-effectiveness of your projects
- Overutilization or underutilization of your resources
The 2 Common Challenges Of Resource Allocation
Cooking isn’t easy.
There are tons of things that could go wrong, even for an aspiring Masterchef — like serving raw chicken to Gordon.
Similarly, resource allocation has its own set of challenges.
Here are two common challenges you’ll face in the resource allocation process.
We’re going to highlight simple solutions to them too!
1. Changing client demands
Project managers need to take care of their clients, obviously.
I mean, you need to keep Gordon happy, right?
However, clients can make sudden timeline, requirement and budget changes. It’s what we call scope creep!
For example, your team is working on a project and all of a sudden, the client’s agency says that they need the project finished three days before the deadline.
However, if project managers plan their resource allocation strategy carefully, they’ll be able to cope with this. All they need to do is allocate additional resources to the project to catch up with the new project schedule.
Bonus tip: Having your resource calendar up to date will help you swiftly adjust your resources when changes pop-up.
2. Changing resource availability
One of the assumptions that managers make is that their resources will remain standard during a project’s lifecycle.
However, that isn’t always the case.
For example, you need some eggs for your pasta, but your competitor took all of them to make a custard. Terrifying, right?
In project management, this could be something like two of your team members taking sick leave when you have an urgent project deadline to meet.
As project managers are the main decision makers, they need to come up with solutions for issues related to resource availability. In this case, it can be the decision to hire a freelancer or asking the team to do overtime to keep up with the project schedule.
4 Tips For Effective Resource Allocation
We’ve now covered the entire allocation process in project management.
But we still have some ‘tips’ up our sleeves to help you out!
Here are some things you need to keep in mind while allocating resources:
1. Know your resources and their capabilities
You don’t know what apple cider tastes like, but you want to use it in your dish.
Chances are, your dish could end up like this:
When planning your project, you should understand the capability of your team and the quality of resources you have at your disposal.
For example, if your project involves designing a very complex website, you may have to assign your top web developers to it.
That’s why, for efficient allocation, project managers need to know their resources as well as chefs know their Michelin-star dishes!
2. Expect scope changes and have a backup plan
You suddenly realize you just burnt your bacon!
You now need a plan B.
Similarly, most projects don’t always go perfectly according to the original plan.
For example, let’s say your team is working on a web development project and suddenly, the client wants an additional feature added.
You now need to make edits to your allocation model ASAP, like hiring a freelancer or adding another team member to the project.
To handle such changes, project managers should always have a backup resource allocation plan for the project.
3. Never over allocate resources
Sure, underutilization of resources can be bad for business since you’re not using your resources to their full capacity.
However, overutilization of any project resource can be just as bad.
Remember, you can’t add one cup of flour to the cake when you only need half a cup!
Overusing resources could result in:
- Early resource burnout due to excessive usage
- Lowering the overall effectiveness of the resource itself
- Reducing the usefulness of the other resources
Unfortunately, overutilization is more common than you think because managers always want to add whatever they can to ensure that everything proceeds smoothly.
Don’t do that.
Use a good resource utilization plan for optimal allocation of resources to ensure that you always have just what you need.
4. Always review your resource allocation process after every project
Taking Gordon’s feedback seriously could help you become a better chef.
At least sometimes:
This applies to your projects too. Perform an in-depth analysis of your projects after it’s complete to analyze various factors like:
- Utilization rate
- Resource allocation
- Whether you were able to meet deadlines or not
Determine what went well in the project and what didn’t. Then use this information to improve your resource allocation strategy for future projects.
How To Allocate Your Resources In 4 Simple Steps
You now know why you need effective resource allocation.
But Gordon’s not going to be satisfied with just that:
To really “wow” him, you need to develop an efficient allocation process for your project resources.
But don’t worry.
You don’t need to be a Masterchef to do this efficiently!
You only need to follow these four simple steps:
- Step 1: Define your project scope
- Step 2: Identify time constraints to determine the resources you need
- Step 3: Assign tasks to team members
- Step 4: Reassign resources based on changes in project scope
Note: Since no chef can manage ingredients without tools like weighing scales and measuring cups, we’ve highlighted how a project management tool like ClickUp can help you in each step of this process.
Used by 100,000+ teams in companies from startups to titans like Airbnb, Netflix, Nike and Google, this management software has everything you need for easy asset allocation and management.
Whether you need help with resource planning, resource management, or designing an efficient resource allocation model, ClickUp has got you covered!
Step 1: Define your project scope
No chef starts cooking without picturing what they’re going to cook, right?
Similarly, the first step in project management is to define the scope of your project.
This is vital whether you follow Agile project management, Kanban or any other project management methodology.
Without understanding your project scope, making resource allocation decisions is impossible!
For example, suppose your project scope is to develop an Android health care app that supports remote team members to stay healthy.
You wouldn’t have allocated your iOS developers to this project, right?
You assign it to your Android team, of course!
But assigning the right team is only one part of the project.
It also has multiple tasks, strict deadlines and budgets.
To manage all these properly, you need to:
- Have an overview of the project to know what resources you need
- Dice up the project into smaller tasks
- Map these tasks to your team members
Determining the scope, dicing the project into smaller tasks and then allocating them to your team… sounds like a lot of work that could even stress out Gordon!
So how do you manage all these activities in an organized way?
ClickUp’s solution: tasks, subtasks, and checklists for better management
ClickUp lets you easily mince your project into smaller tasks, subtasks, and checklists.
You can then quickly assign them to your team members in just a few clicks!
Here’s a closer look:
- Tasks and subtasks: Break down your projects into small tasks and subtasks and then allocate them to your team members with ease. Your team can now work on the whole project one step at a time
- Checklists: Create simple to-do lists that can be quickly checked off as your team progresses through a task. You can use this to map out steps, perform quality checks and more
Step 2: Identify time constraints to determine the resources you need
Let’s talk about one thing that every Masterchef contestant fears: time.
Yes, we’re talking about the Masterchef clock and how, when it runs out, the time’s up.
While there’s no large clock to help you track your project deadlines, you can’t let your team take forever to complete a project, right?
Additionally, without analyzing time constraints, decision making becomes very difficult as you won’t know how many resources you need to allocate to a particular task based on its urgency.
So how do you establish efficient time estimates to help you with your project’s resource allocation process?
ClickUp’s solution: Use time estimates to set task deadlines and allocate resources
With ClickUp, you can set deadlines for even the smallest tasks, giving you better control over them. Plus, this increases the productivity of your team by motivating them to finish tasks on time.
Just decide how long a task should take to complete and if it crosses that deadline, you’ll be instantly notified via email. This way, you can quickly keep track of overdue tasks and projects!
But that’s not all.
We know that planning and decision making is crucial for any project.
And with ClickUp’s time estimates, you can make your allocation decisions much easier.
If a task’s time estimate shows that its deadline is in three hours, you’ll know that you need help to complete it on time. You can then quickly assign two more team members to help finish the task faster.
With ClickUp, you can say goodbye to missed deadlines or overdue tasks!
Step 3: Assign tasks to team members
Would you use a frying pan for baking a cake?
Sure, it could work… but it’s definitely not the right way to bake cakes.
Similarly, if you want a resource to achieve its full potential, you need to assign it effectively.
But how do you do that when you have multiple projects going on simultaneously?
A. Use multiple assignees when the task needs extra hands
If a food critic visits your restaurant, you’ll ask all your experienced chefs to whip up an amazing dish together.
Similarly, for some tasks, a single person is just not enough — especially when you have tight deadlines.
Luckily, with multiple assignees in ClickUp, you can quickly assign multiple people to a task if needed. So the next time a task needs that extra pair of hands, you’ll be able to assign them in a jiffy.
B. Use Assigned Comments to create a mini subtask within a comment
Your comment just went unnoticed.
While this is something that happens all the time, especially when people are working remotely, it’s not acceptable for a Masterchef!
I mean, what if that was an important comment, like a sudden client requirement for the project?
Missing that could cost your team the entire project!
But with ClickUp’s Assigned Comments, your comments will always stay on your team’s radar.
You can quickly convert comments into mini-tasks and assign them to anyone in your project team (including yourself). ClickUp then notifies the person and displays the task in their task tray — making it impossible for it to go unnoticed!
They can even easily resolve the task once they are done to avoid further follow-ups.
Step 4: Reassign resources based on changes in project scope
Most projects change during their life cycle due to various factors like clients, budget or time.
However, even a tiny change can become a management nightmare if you don’t reallocate your resources accordingly.
And for that, you need to know how your resources are allocated.
For example, let’s say you’re cooking with your team and suddenly the dessert goes up in flames, and your pastry chef is hurt.
You now need to reallocate your chefs to work on the dessert — and the only way to do this is to know who’s allocated to what currently and who’s free to take up the challenge.
Luckily, with a resource allocation software like ClickUp, you’ll have a clear view of what your members are working on to help you reallocate tasks easily.
ClickUp’s solution: Use Profiles and Box view to see who’s working on what to reallocate accordingly
ClickUp’s Profiles give a detailed view of each project team member’s responsibilities and assignments.
It shows you:
- What your team members are working on
- What they should work on next
- What was completed recently
And to open someone’s profile, you only need to click on their name from anywhere in ClickUp!
Super easy, right?
But wait… there’s more.
With ClickUp’s Box view, you get quick visual overviews on who has too many tasks and who has a lighter workload. It also shows you what someone has completed so far and what they’re working on currently.
This way, if you need to reallocate resources suddenly to a specific task, just use the Box view to assign the task to someone with a relatively lower workload.
But that’s not all of ClickUp’s features!
This powerful resource management software also offers features like:
- Team reporting: Get detailed insights about the performance of your project team
- Custom status: Assign customized task statuses according to your project needs
- Priorities: Assign priorities to tasks to let your project team identify urgent tasks
- Dependencies: Always attempt tasks in the right order
- Project management automation: Easily automate any project management process within ClickUp
An excellent resource allocation strategy is one of the best ways to ensure that your projects always go smoothly.
However, creating and implementing an efficient resource allocation model isn’t as easy as cooking an omelet. Plus, you also need to deal with various challenges of resource allocation.
But don’t worry, it’s not impossible.
Like Gordon, you’re always ready for a challenge, right?
And since Gordon can’t tackle anything without the right knife, you need a powerful allocation software like ClickUp to help allocate and manage your resources efficiently.
From helping you make good resource allocation decisions to planning and scheduling your resources, ClickUp will help you every step of the way.
Sign up today and start cooking up projects that are sure to wow even Gordon Ramsay!
Erica is ClickUp’s Senior Content Manager and professional beach bum. She spends her days creating emails, blogs, landing pages, and more to help people increase their productivity so they can save one day every week to do more of what they love.