We live in a world of hacks and quick fixes, but project management marches to a different tune. It involves careful planning throughout the life a project. Without it, firms repeatedly run into the same problems, like missing deadlines and exceeding budgets.
Avoid these mistakes with resource allocation. True, it takes time to allocate budgets; make adjustments when plans change; and analyze results and future trends. But doing so pays dividends in return—saving time and money, not to mention stress. Plus, clients are happy because their demands are met on time and within budget.
We’ve identified five common business challenges that can be overcome by using resource allocation in BigTime.
Most project managers start working on a project without solidifying the details, like knowing how and where resources are being used. Unsurprisingly, deadlines are missed and budgets are exceeded as additional projects pile on and things don’t go exactly as envisioned.
Consider a different approach where you’re in control and plan each step of the way. That’s where resource allocation comes in. The planning process not only gets you thinking about the duration of a project, but also shows you the consequence of your actions.
For example, we added Ben to “Website Updates: Task 1” and exceeded the number of hours allocated to the project (indicated by “Allocated: 61” in the top-right corner in the image below). Since we don’t want to go over budget, we need to rethink how we’re going to allocate hours to this task.
There’s nothing worse than not using the talent you’ve got. Enter capacity: it’s the number of hours a staffer is expected to work in a month. In BigTime, this number is usually 160, since the average full-time staffer works 40 hours each week for four weeks each month.
There are two views in BigTime’s resource allocation: by task or staff member. “View by staff member” helps you make informed capacity-related decisions about your staffers. Using the image below, consider the details we can glean about our staffer, Jason:
- He should work 40 hours each week (noted in gray font next to his name).
- He’s allocated 28 hours during the week of 12/3 (noted next to “Totals”).
- He’s allocated a total of 113 hours (noted next to “Allocated”) for this project.
Based on this information, we can allocate many more hours to Jason.
Part of the planning process involves thinking ahead for future projects.
Use resource allocation to allocate hours months down the road. There are several reasons why you’d do this, including to:
- Prevent taking on too much work,
- Determine if you need to make additional hires, and
- Think about how you’ll allocate your resources appropriately when busy times hit.
Go forward or backward in time by using the navigation arrows at the top of the resource allocation editor window.
Plus, it’s simple to shift allocations around if needed, which we’ll address next.
It’s no surprise that plans change: a project gets put on hold or another component is added to it. Fortunately, “shift allocations” enables you to move your resources around without duplicating your efforts.
Say you’ve allocated hours to your staffers for each week during the month of February. But the project gets delayed for two months. Use “shift allocations” to free up resources and reallocate these staffer hours to another project. Put another way, you don’t have to re-enter all of your allocations.
Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to project management. You’ve got to stay on the pulse of project performance and staffer productivity, which is why resource allocation offers many feedback sources.
First, use the real-time graphics for an at-a-glance view of a project. Who’s logging the most hours to a project? Are you staying on budget? Based on the answers to these questions, you may make changes to your allocations or have a talk with a staffer.
Second, run reports using resource allocation data. They’re a simple, but powerful way to get the details you need to make effective decisions. Perhaps you need to add more staffers to a project or adjust the amount of time you’re spending on it.
Third, use revenue projections to forecast revenue by project or across staffers. Find out which months you’ll be cash flow positive. Or learn which staffers are bringing in the most revenue during the next three months.
There are two ways to forecast revenue:
- Hourly (Rate*Budget): revenue projections based on your staffer’s hourly billing rate.
- Fixed Fee (% of Overall Budget): revenue projections based on the fixed amount that’ll be billed to the client for the work you do or services you provide.
Project management has a lot of moving parts, so sometimes mistakes happen. But many can be avoided with resource allocation.