1) Why to schedule business resources?
Every company has to operate only a limited amount of business resources it possesses, including manpower, equipment, working premises, conference rooms, vehicles, and so on. When a company undertakes some projects it is necessary for the project managers to know what resources they have in arsenal, assess capacity and availability of these resources, and schedule them to be involved into working activities, in relation to a project’s requirements on resources.
Accurate resource scheduling makes it possible for managers to track how capacity of the available business resources will be utilized for processing workloads in a time ahead, so they can reasonably plan level of engagement of these resources into multiple concurrent projects, without harming their productivity or hampering progress over these projects. As you can see scheduling resources is very important because it:
- Allows the company managers to foreknow how their workforce, equipment and assets will be loaded with work in a long-term or short-term projection;
- Allows controlling what tasks are on the schedule and if they are fully supplied with necessary business resources to be completed on-time;
2) Terms used in business resources scheduling.
Resource scheduling is carried out in four steps.
- Resource Definition: the first step is to estimate quantity and quality of resources demanded to complete each task you have on the schedule, and compare your estimation against the capacity and quantity of resources available. This step is to determine the daily hours that those resources need and are ready to work at those tasks.
- Resource Allocation: assigning resources to appropriate working tasks. At this step you appoint your resources to different projects and tasks according to demand for these resources and time that resources have available to serve these projects and tasks. It is about finding a compromise between different duties and importance of different projects.
- Resource Aggregation: the process of summing up all the resources assigned to an activity and a project within specific time limits. You can build a resource aggregation graph to learn how a particular resource is engaged into work per days and by tasks (the same graph can be built for a project or a task to see how it is supported with workforce). This allows you to avoid over-allocation of resources and overload of particular resource units.
- Resource Leveling: at this step you manage resource constraints, resolve resource conflicts or over-allocations. Resource leveling is the process that ensures resource demand doesn’t exceed resource availability (so some tasks are performed slowly, or even stay ceased until workforce is available), as well as there are no overloaded units that can’t work at several tasks concurrently.
3) How to schedule resources?
- Conduct project triage (sorting) to define projects which are worth of investments most of all:
- Allocate resources to the most profitable projects;
- Estimate the critical tasks to be performed in these projects;
- Allocate resources to these tasks;
- Attach suitable resources to individuals or project units;
- Estimate all tasks that your company has in its portfolio to:
- Examine demand for resources and adequateness to outcomes expected;
- Investigate and find out some inefficiencies that consume excessive resources;
- Check and optimize working hours allocated for these tasks;
- Analyze projects contents to define whether it makes sense to:
- Delay or accelerate performance of some activities;
- Extend the duration of certain tasks and so reduce the demand for resources;
- Reallocate resources from some less paying tasks to the most paying ones;
- Study a current recourse allocation:
- Build resource allocation (aggregation) graphs for tasks and resources;
- Find out over-allocations or resource conflicts (tasks competing for resources);
- Compare current resource allocation against resource constraints;
- Achieve a better resource allocation:
- Release resource from doing less paying jobs and reallocate them to important tasks;
- Check what critical tasks can be done better or faster when more resources are allocated;
- Level resources – check where gaps or over-allocations are present, and balance hours;
3) A simple way to schedule resources with VIP Task Manager:
VIP Task Manager is a client-server product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables the managers to allocate and schedule resources in terms of particular tasks and projects. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to plan resources using this product:
Instruments to be used:
- Resource List;
- Calendar mode;
Resource List mode actions:
- Add users accounts to the list (set their logins and passwords);
- Enter users’ departments, personal phones and other details;
- Use the same way to create entries for some other business resources like vehicles or rooms;
Calendar mode actions:
- Switch to Calendar mode and select appropriate View, for example Day view;
- Turn on “Group by Resources” option. Use “+” option to add more resources into calendar;
- Review the schedule of tasks for this day by each employee or business resource;
- Use additional filtering options as required;
- According to durations of tasks, view how employees are loaded with work;