Struggling with your agency's resource management? With so many resources to juggle for any given project (from assigning tasks to staying on budget and on deadline), it's no surprise.
Enter resource management software: a valuable tool that can help you make the most of your available resources for each project. However, despite the benefits offered by resource scheduling tools, only 23% of businesses surveyed in 2020 report using them — which seems like a pretty major gaffe!
If you're serious about revolutionizing your agency's resource planning this year (and beyond), the seven tips we cover below can get you on the right track.
What is resource scheduling?
Resource scheduling or planning refers to strategically allocating your agency's resources (including its people) to complete a project on time and efficiently. Specifically, resource scheduling can help to lay out the timeline for a given project while helping project managers decide who should be assigned certain tasks based on resource availability and skill set.
While most often used at the beginning stages of a new project, resource scheduling techniques can (and should) be used throughout a project to keep things on track. For example, resource scheduling can help make project managers aware of unexpected time delays so that tasks and deadlines can be reassigned.
Upon completing a project, resource scheduling and time tracking can also be useful in reviewing the project's overall success, assessing how efficiently team members are working, and making it easier to schedule and plan future projects.
Why resource scheduling is important
Although more businesses are beginning to see the value of resource scheduling, few are using the right resource management solution. If you're still not convinced that resource scheduling is vital to your agency's success, there are some specific benefits to consider here.
Better resource utilization
Your agency only has a certain amount of resources to rely on for any given project. Not only must project managers consider budgetary limits and time constraints, but human limitations and staff shortages as well. Not all team members will have the skills and strengths needed to carry out certain tasks within each project, but the ones that do have the necessary skills may have other things on their plates. So, piling more tasks onto them isn't likely to have a good outcome.
With the right resource scheduling software and project resource management tools, project managers can ensure that an agency's limited resources are used most effectively. Tasks are allocated to the right people (with the right deadlines), and project team members aren't overworked (or underworked, for that matter).
Timely project delivery
“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”
~Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and author
Keeping projects on schedule isn't always easy. In fact, a 2021 Scrum Inc. study reveals that nearly half of all agile projects are late or go over budget. The right resource scheduling tools improve scheduling and task allocation from the very beginning to maximize a project's chances of being completed by the original deadline.
Even if a project begins to fall behind, resource management strategies can be used to adjust milestones, reassignproject tasks, and get projects back on track.
Improved project performance
Of course, it's not just about getting projects completed by the deadline and within the original budget. A project can't really be considered successful unless the quality of the finished product is up to par.
Resource scheduling improves overall project performance and outcomes by ensuring that the right people are assigned to the right tasks throughout the project itself. By taking into account not just team member availability but skill sets and strengths, key tasks are carried out only by the most experienced and knowledgeable team members. This, in turn, results in better outcomes for your clients.
Better communication and collaboration
The right resource scheduling strategies can also improve communication and collaboration within your agency. When it's clear who is responsible for carrying out which tasks, team members know exactly who to turn to when they have questions about a specific part of the project (or simply need an update on the progress of a particular task).
And, of course, when team members collaborate more effectively, projects have a better chance of staying on schedule, as you can avoid delays and errors.
7 tips for resource scheduling to improve workflows
It's easy to see how resource scheduling can optimize your agency's workflows, improve project performance, and boost profitability. But implementing a great resource management plan can be easier said than done. By keeping these best practices in mind, you can improve resource scheduling for your next big project.
1) Use resource management software for full visibility
Start with the right resource management software. An all-in-one project management tool like Teamwork can drastically improve visibility within your projects, allowing project managers to better allocate resources and gauge bandwidth for taking on new client work.
With Teamwork, you can easily input the resources you need for any given project (including project costs, timeframes, people, tools, equipment, and facilities). From there, you can easily assign tasks to team members based on their unique skill sets and workloads, track how resources are being used, and track the amount of time needed for each task throughout the project. You can even set up automations to save time on recurring tasks.
Teamwork makes it easier to visualize where your projects stand at all times with Gantt charts and other tools, allowing you to easily adapt and reallocate resources when things are falling behind. Even once your projects are completed, you can easily create Project Health and Profitability Reports to improve resource management in future projects.
2) Break down projects into smaller parts
In addition to using the right project planning software to improve your resource scheduling, it can also be helpful to break down your project into smaller parts or tasks. This means looking at the project and its deliverables as a whole before determining which steps to take to reach the finished product.
Depending on your project's complexity, this might even require you to break some tasks down further into sub-tasks. Once you have a better feel for each of the steps you need to take, it will be easier to determine the specific resources (including people) that you will need for each task and sub-task.
3) Communicate frequently with team throughout the project
Of course, it's not enough to simply assign tasks and milestones to individual team members and hope for the best. Project managers should frequently check in and communicate with team members throughout a project to keep things moving.
Upon assigning tasks for a project, for example, project managers should meet briefly with individual team members to ensure they have the abilities and bandwidth to complete the task. This can be a great time to ensure there are no disruptions or other roadblocks (such as planned time off or a lack of resources needed to complete the task) early on. If there are bottlenecks, these can be addressed before the project gets underway.
4) Prioritize tasks based on importance
Deciding which tasks are most important to your project can be extremely helpful when allocating resources. Oftentimes, the best way to do this is to work backward from your "big picture" to determine which steps are most essential to achieving the finished product.
From there, you can prioritize tasks based on their importance in reaching the end goal. For example, if you're designing a website for a client, deciding on a user-friendly layout may be a higher priority than choosing a color scheme or designing a new logo. As a result, you may need to focus your resources on creating that intuitive site layout first — especially if your resources are limited.
Once you have the most important aspects of the project handled, then you can move on to allocating additional tasks and subtasks (like deciding on a color scheme and drafting a new logo) to your team members.
5) Allow for flexibility in the schedule to accommodate unexpected events or roadblocks
In a perfect world, every project would run on schedule, and your team members would have no problem meeting each deadline assigned to them. In reality, things happen. An unexpected illness may leave one of your key project members unable to work for several days. Or clients and stakeholders may suddenly change their minds about what they want partway through the project.
The best way to handle these hiccups is to plan for them ahead of time and build plenty of flexibility into your project schedule. For example, this may mean allocating slightly more time to some tasks than you realistically expect them to take. This way, team members can pick up the slack and keep things on schedule when something unforeseen happens.
This is, again, where the right project management and resource planning tools can make all the difference. When something unexpected happens, project managers can use these tools to reassign tasks based on team member availability and skill set.
6) Consider the long-term development needs of team members
At the end of the day, your team members are your most important resource. With any project, it's important to consider the long-term development needs of your workers as you assign tasks.
Make sure you're assigning team members tasks that will challenge them or empower them to learn new skills. You may also want to consider assigning tasks to team members that will provide them with opportunities to work on different types of projects or expand their overall experience.
Take the time to meet with team members individually to get a better feel for their goals and aspirations. Note these and keep them in mind when it comes time to assign task lists for an upcoming project. Your team members will feel more valued (and will work more productively) when they feel that you support their long-term aspirations and development goals.
7) Monitor resources continuously throughout the project
Carefully monitoring all aspects of your project as it progresses is a must. This way, you can get a better feel for how projected timelines are stacking up to the actual time taken, how closely you're sticking to your project budget, and more.
Project resource scheduling isn't something you'll get 100% right from the very beginning; project managers will need to learn from each project and apply what they've learned moving forward. However, the only way to do that is to monitor progress in real time and reflect on projects as they are completed.
With careful monitoring of resources throughout all project stages, you can better understand how to allocate resources in the future. Fortunately, Teamwork makes this easier with easy Project Health Reports and other tools to help you gain those valuable insights.
Get full visibility into your resource scheduling process with Teamwork
With the right resource scheduling tools and strategies in mind, your teams can do more with the resources available to them. In turn, you can best serve your existing clients and earn some new ones along the way!
If your agency is looking for a reliable, intuitive, and affordable project management platform to aid in your resource forecasting, Teamwork has you covered. With robust time tracking tools, easy report generation, time-saving templates, and versatile dashboard views, project managers and team members alike can streamline their work.
Get in touch with our team to learn more about the Teamwork platform or sign up today to begin your free 30-day trial.