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Ultimate Guide To Resource Leveling (2020)

Ultimate Guide To Resource Leveling (2020)

Curious about resource leveling and wondering how to do it?

Taking care of your resources is crucial for any team leader — just ask Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead! 

I mean, the guy pretty much risks his life each day doing this, right?

While project managers don’t have to worry about zombies, they should worry about evenly distributing work and resources to complete projects efficiently.

And how do they do that?

By using a resource management technique called resource leveling!

In this article, we’ll go over what resource leveling is, how it works, and highlight three tips to help you master it. We’ll also cover how to implement it effectively to prevent your projects from going off the rails like a Walking Dead zombie!

This Article Contains:

(Use the links below to jump to a specific section)

Let’s get started!

What Is Resource Leveling?

Resource levelling is the process of tweaking your resource allocation and project schedule to prevent over allocation or under allocation of resources.

But wait… what is over allocation and under allocation?

When there’s poor project resource management, you could end up in either of these situations: 

  • Over allocation: Allocating more resources to a project than what its resource requirements specify
  • Under allocation: Not scheduling enough resources to a project to meet its resource demand 

With over allocation or under allocation of resources, you’re not using your resources at their optimum potential. This naturally reduces your resource efficiency and, in turn, increases your project costs.

Think of it this way:

What’ll happen if Rick assigns too much work to Michonne? 

Sure, Michonne is amazing. 

But eventually, she’ll start getting overworked, tired, and annoyed — ultimately making the entire group vulnerable to zombies.

In your case, if you over-allocate or under allocate an important resource, your whole project’s resource usage could be seriously jeopardized.

So what are your resources?

Unlike Daryl, a project manager’s resources aren’t guns, bullets or crossbows.

In project management, you use two types of resources:

  • Intangible resources: Intellectual property, processes, skills, ideas and time
  • Tangible resources: Human and financial resources, software, materials, real estate

So how do you go about resource levelling and balancing your resource allocation?

Let’s find out…

How Does Resource Leveling Work?

Resource levelling sounds super useful so far, right?

But don’t just take our word for it!

We’ll give you a clear picture of how the leveling process works in real-life projects.

Here are two situations you might face and how resource levelling comes to the rescue:

1. Your project doesn’t have tight time constraints

Sometimes, there are projects where your project schedule isn’t super strict. 

For example, let’s say you have only one software developer who’s working over 10 hrs/day on a project. But the project doesn’t have a strict deadline.

10 hrs?! 

Even Rick doesn’t have to endure that level of stress when fighting zombies! 

This is a situation where you have under allocated resources. The under allocated resource here is your team members. You have allocated too few team members to the project — which is unnecessary.

So what can you do?

You use resource levelling and extend the project duration

Stretch the schedule out so that the work activity needed for project completion becomes just six hrs/day. 

Stretching out task deadlines and creating a new resource leveled schedule reduces the pressure on your human resources. This resource levelling corrects any under allocation of your time resource.

And you won’t be overworking your employees anymore — which is really bad for productivity anyway!

But what if you overallocated resources?

Just do the opposite! 

Adjust your project scheduling to tighten the deadline.

For example, let’s say, Rick assigned some survivors to build a fence in four days — only to realize that the task doesn’t need such a long time period. So he asks them to finish it over the next two days instead. 

That’s resources leveling right there! 

2. Your project has tight time constraints

Some projects have a very strict start and finish date. 

Here, you can’t adjust your project duration as it’s pretty much set in stone.

To level resources in such cases, you need to:

  • Start organizing your tasks while keeping their dependencies in mind. This will help you decide which tasks to focus on first (dependent tasks are tasks that are waiting on others to be finished first — like baking your cake before being able to eat it!)
  • Then, reallocate resources to these priority tasks and ensure that there are no under allocated or overallocated resources

For example, suppose Rick’s Agile project management team is launching a zombie tracker in three days. All that’s left to do is testing it for bugs and fixing it accordingly. 

Note that these processes are dependent on each other — you can’t make the final fix unless you run the bug test. 

This is where organizing tasks come into play.

However, with the current resource usage, Rick realizes that he can’t finish testing and fixing bugs within the time period. So he allocates some more developers and testers to the project to keep up with the constraints.

Note: As you only have limited resources, ensure that resource reallocation doesn’t create resource conflicts or resource limitations in other projects. For example, Rick could reassign developers to his zombie tracker task — but that shouldn’t make their original tasks go haywire!

5 Key Tips For Effective Resource Leveling

Are zombies gaining an edge on you and your resources?

Don’t worry! 

Here are five tips to help you dominate the fight:

1. Make realistic estimates of your project resource needs

Before you go fight a horde of zombies, you need to estimate how many people and weapons you’ll need, right?

Similarly, before you start a project, make a realistic estimate of how much resources your project would possibly need. This way, you’ll be able to plan for any sudden resource needs that could pop-up later.  

2. Identify your project resource gaps

Let’s say Rick and the gang were preparing to fight a horde of zombies tomorrow.

Only there’s one problem – they’re out of ammo!

That is what we call a resource gap.

When managing projects, always identify any resource gaps and address them immediately. For example, if your project scope calls for four team members and you only have three available – you need to make some necessary changes to cope with this.

This could be hiring someone else or reassigning someone to the project.

If you don’t keep track of these resource gaps, you could face sudden issues that you have no way of dealing with. And while that won’t mean getting eaten by zombies – it could spell the end of your project! 

3. Create a priority list

Suppose Rick and Daryl were returning from a supply run and Daryl breaks his leg.

Rick has a problem now:

He can’t carry Daryl and the supplies at the same time, right?

So what’s he going to do?

  • Get the supplies back to base before coming back for Daryl?

or

  • Leave the supplies and carry Daryl back first?

We’re pretty sure he’d take the second option. 

And that’s what prioritizing is.

Always create a prioritized list of tasks and resources when handling your projects. This way, you’ll clearly know what needs to be prioritized in case of any conflicts or constraints.

For example, let’s say you’ve two ongoing projects that need an extra team member — the first one has a flexible schedule and the other has a strict deadline. 

The problem is, you only have one developer to spare.

Which project would you assign that developer to?

To the second one – since it has a strict deadline!

That’s task-prioritizing in action.

4. Have a dedicated resource manager

Managing your resources isn’t an easy task.

It’s extremely time-consuming and involves tons of variables.

That’s why, if possible, ensure that you have a dedicated resource manager who can take care of resource levelling needs.

As there’s someone dedicated to the process, it’ll be easier for them to monitor everything and make quick changes when required. 

Additionally, you won’t be adding the responsibility of resource management onto your project team – ensuring that they can focus on performing the task instead.

Remember, not everyone’s as productive as Rick.

Only he could handle hunting zombies, finding supplies, and leading the group at the same time!

5. Always keep track of your reallocated resources

While reassigning resources is the main part of resource levelling, you can’t just leave it at that.

Whenever you reassign a resource, keep track of where it was originally assigned.

Why is this important?

Because without this, you’re going to lose track of everything with all this reshuffling.

For example, let’s say Rick took Daryl out of patrolling and reassigned him to grocery duty since they came across an abandoned supermarket. Once they’ve collected the supplies, Daryl’s work with groceries is finished.

However, if Rick didn’t keep track of what Daryl’s previous duty was, he wouldn’t be able to assign him back to the patrolling post – leaving them open to an attack by zombies!

Similarly, if you don’t thoroughly keep track of all your resources and where they were reassigned from, your project is bound to crash.

How To Implement Resource Leveling With A Project Management Tool 

You now know why you need resource levelling.

You even have some tips to carry it off effectively.

But that’s not enough to scare off the zombies!

 

You also need to have a proper resource levelling strategy in place.

And for that, you need to understand three key level techniques:

But don’t worry! 

We’ll guide you through these techniques so that you can go out and help those survivors.

But wait.

Would you learn how to fight a zombie if you aren’t actually going to fight them?

You won’t, right? 

Unless you’re, like, super bored or something.

Similarly, just learning a project leveling technique isn’t going to help you manage your project resource

You need to actually implement it too!

However, applying these resource optimization techniques can be difficult without the right tools. Even Rick needs his hammer and wire cutter to build a strong fence, right?

 

All you need is a powerful project management software like ClickUp to implement these optimization techniques easily.

What’s ClickUp?

ClickUp is the world’s leading project management software. 

Used by 100,000+ teams in companies from startups to titans like Airbnb, Netflix, Nike and Google, this project management software has everything you need for easy resource leveling and critical path method analysis.

Whether you need help with resource assignments, project scheduling, automatic leveling or resource constrained scheduling — ClickUp has you covered!

 

And unlike other project management tools like Microsoft Project (MS Project), ClickUp is a tool that adapts to your team’s leveling needs — not the other way round!

Let’s see what each technique is and how ClickUp helps you level your project resources:

1. Critical path method (CPM)

This technique helps you determine what core tasks you need to perform to complete your project when you’re on a limited time period.

Essentially, your critical path is the sequence of activities that must be completed in order to complete your project.

Think of the path method in this way:

Rick needs to build a net to keep zombies out. 

So his team must:

  • Plant the posts
  • Nail the rails to the posts
  • Staple the mesh to the post and rails

As these are the tasks they must do to build a basic fence, this is their critical path.

However, they can strengthen the fence by:

  • Adding a cap rail
  • Adding more layers of mesh
  • Installing some barbed wires at the top

Although these tasks make the fence stronger, they’re not really necessary to finish the task. 

So they’re not included in the project’s critical path

(However, when you have some spare time and resources, building a stronger fence is never a bad idea, especially if there are zombies out there.)

Why is the critical path important in resource leveling?

If your deadline is near, but you still have a truckload of remaining work, you can use CPM to understand which tasks will help you finish the project. Then, you can allocate more resources to these tasks to speed things up. 

Sounds good, but how do you find the critical path?

Calculating the critical path isn’t an easy process. 

While you could use complicated charts and algorithms to determine your task structure, that’s going to be super tedious and confusing.

Instead, just use ClickUp!

Here’s how it helps you calculate your project’s critical path easily:

ClickUp’s solution: Gantt Chart

With ClickUp’s Gantt chart feature, using the critical path method becomes a piece of cake!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Open the Gantt view in ClickUp
  2. Select the group of tasks you’d like to calculate the Critical path for
  3. Click the arrow button and the tool auto-calculates the Critical path for the tasks selected

That’s it! 

No complicated network diagram or resource leveling algorithm required — just a few clicks in ClickUp, and you’re all set.

But wait… there’s more.

ClickUp’s Gantt charts aren’t like those boring, complicated graphs. 

While they’re extremely powerful, they’re also super fun to use.

Here’re some things ClickUp’s Gantt chart can do for you:

  • Automatically readjust Task Dependencies after you reschedule any task
  • Instantly calculate your project completion percentage depending on completed task vs total task
  • Compare current vs expected progress in your planned project schedule

Saves a lot of time, right? 

Use that free time to work on something else — like scheduling your next Agile project or preparing for another zombie apocalypse.

 

2. Fast tracking

You’re looking for essentials at a supermarket, and suddenly, you see a bunch of zombies heading your way. 

You get whatever you can find and run out, right?

Sure, you may not be able to get all that you were looking for. 

But you were able to pick up some canned food, bandages and tools. 

That’s still better than nothing, right? 

That’s fast tracking at play.

It’s a technique that helps you focus on the critical tasks to speed up your project completion.

However, to implement fast tracking, you need to determine your project’s priorities and dependencies

After all, if you want to fast track things you need to know what’s super important and what’s connected to it, right? 

But you can’t write down your priorities and dependencies on a paper, right?

You might drop it at the store when you’re out for supplies!

ClickUp’s solutions:

A. Use Priorities to determine which tasks to include 

When Rick goes out to loot, he always has priorities in his mind. 

For example, his priorities could be something like this:

  • Ammo: Urgent
  • Canned food: Urgent
  • New weapons: High
  • Construction tools: Normal
  • Clothes: Low

Similarly, your project tasks have different priorities — and you can fast track things only if you keep track of these priorities. 

How do you do that?

ClickUp lets you create tasks and assign each task with a priorityUrgent, High, Normal, Low and No priority

For easier identification, each priority level is color-coded.

If you’re falling behind the project schedule, you can use Priorities to focus your resources on ‘Urgent’ and ‘High’ priority tasks. 

This way, you could still get the most important parts of your project done before your deadline. 

B. Use Dependencies to organize your tasks

Rick can’t treat the survivors before his team brings the meds, right? 

 

In most projects, there are some tasks you can’t do before completing another related task. For example, you can’t start testing an app without first writing its code.

These related tasks are called dependencies

You need to understand task dependencies before you fast track your project. 

But how do you keep track of your dependencies?

Keeping all dependencies mapped in your mind is just plain impossible — especially when you have hundreds of tasks! 

However, ClickUp makes this process a piece of cake.

With ClickUp’s Dependencies, you can see which tasks are waiting on others and which are blocking others. This way, you can ensure that every task is done in the correct order and also identify any roadblocks in your project.

You can also set dependency statuses like:

  • Waiting on Dependencies: Highlight how a task is waiting on another task’s completion before you can attempt it
  • Blocking Dependencies: Prevent tasks from being attempted until another one is finished
  • Dependency Warning: Alert someone if they try to close a task when it’s waiting on a previous task being completed
  • Unblocking Notification: Receive a notification when the ‘waiting on’ task is unblocked, and you can begin work

 

3. Crashing

If a huge zombie horde is approaching your camp, you’ll need more people with more guns to defend the perimeter. 

And that’s called crashing — the process of scheduling additional resources to speed things up.

However, before you “crash”, here’s what you should remember:

  • You can’t apply crashing to every type of task

There are tasks that don’t benefit from additional resource allocation. For example, hiring additional Scrum masters to a team often results in management hiccups instead of speeding projects up

  • You should reallocate critical resources from low priority tasks to prevent your other key tasks from being resource constrained too

Sure, crashing lets you allocate more resources to the critical path tasks.

But how are you going to figure out which resources to allocate?

For efficient allocation of resources, you need to:

  • Get a clear overview of all your resources
  • Determine the workload of each team member 

You may also need to perform additional resource assignments if needed — like assigning multiple members to work on the same critical task.

Luckily, a powerful tool like ClickUp can handle all these requirements!

ClickUp’s Solutions:

A. Multiple Assignees to assign more people to work on a critical task 

Going out alone when there’s a zombie apocalypse is not a smart decision. 

Similarly, for some challenging tasks, you can’t expect a fellow team member to handle it all alone.

With ClickUp’s Multiple Assignees, you can instantly assign more people to any task!

This is super handy when you need more members on board to meet a tight project schedule

You can also quickly remove or unassign members from a task that has low priority and reassign them to urgent tasks.

B. Use Profiles, Box view and Pulse to determine which team members can you allocate 

Rick needs to always keep a close eye on his members. 

That’s how he’ll quickly know what each person is up to.

 

Like Rick, a project manager also needs to know what the team’s doing to keep track of resource utilization and resource limits.

How do you do that?

Using ClickUp’s Profiles!

Profiles give you a detailed overview of each team member’s work activity, assignments and responsibilities.

You’ll easily know:

  • What your members are working on
  • What they should work on next
  • What was completed recently

And the best part?

To open someone’s Profile, all you need to do is click on their name anywhere in ClickUp!

Super easy, right?

Additionally, using ClickUp’s Box view, you’ll get quick overviews of your entire team’s work activity! This way, you can quickly identify members with lighter workloads and assign them to your critical tasks.

But wait… we’re not done yet.

ClickUp’s new Pulse feature auto-generates activity reports that highlight what your team’s most focused on at present. You’ll now easily know which member’s available to take up an urgent task.

You can use these reports to know:

  • Which members are online and offline
  • Their activity levels during a specific day
  • The tasks they have been active on recently
  • Who’s actively working on something for real-time collaboration

With ClickUp, resource assignments are always easy to handle!

These features are super handy when you’re managing remote teams and need to keep track of everyone’s workload.

But that’s not all of ClickUp’s features

This powerful resource leveling software also offers other convenient features like:

Conclusion

Resource levelling ensures that your projects run smoothly, and you always meet your deadlines with efficient resource usage.

But implementing a good resource levelling plan on your own might seem as challenging as escaping from the Walking Dead zombies. 

Don’t worry.

All you need is a powerful project management tool like ClickUp to manage your resources efficiently.

From project planning and project scheduling to resource loading and resource optimization — ClickUp can deal with anything you throw its way!

Don’t get caught off guard by the Walking Dead…lines! Sign up today and start to fully equip yourself for any project apocalypse!

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