Resource allocation software – matching staff with tasks

Successfully matching up staff with tasks is an important part of the multi-project resource management process. The overall goals are to maximise the utilisation of each team, whilst ensuring that every project is properly resourced. If it goes wrong then either team usage levels can become too low because there is too much spare capacity, or key project dates can be missed because insufficient resources with the right skills and experience are available. Resource allocation software helps with getting this demand/capacity balance right, before allocating individual resources to tasks.

The project resource management process typically consists of two phases:

  • Skills capacity planning. This is about maintaining the right balance between skills demand and capacity. It is very challenging in volatile environments, where there are lots of project changes. If the resource bottlenecks are too severe, there will be no suitable candidates as new tasks are planned.
  • Resource allocation. This is the collaboration between project and resource managers, so that projects will be correctly staffed up whilst teams meet their utilisation targets.

The resource allocation process

Organisations that manage lots of projects demand effective collaboration between project and resource managers. Both roles need to use resource allocation software to achieve this. The process typically follows these steps:

  • Project manager requests resources. In preparing the resource plan, the project manager specifies the work quantity and profile s for the resources he needs to complete each task. He may have to specify additional requirements, such as professional qualifications, or specific system experience and competencies. Resource allocation software includes a skills database, where such attributes can be maintained for each resource., and should have dynamic updates of data from the HR system

Shows how language competencies can be specified for the required ANALYST

  • Resource manager proposes candidates. On approval of the resource plan, each resource manager should receive requests just for their resources. Where additional attributes have been specified, the resource allocation software should display a list of those candidates that best fit the requested requirements, so that the resource manager can propose the most suitable candidates. Where few additional attributes have been specified, a simple drag and drop of the work profile to available team members may suffice.
  • Project manager reviews proposed candidates. The resource allocation software displays a list of proposed candidates for each of the manager’s tasks, and compares the requested attributes with those of each candidate. Where a candidate is deemed unsuitable, the proposal can be rejected with explanations of reasons why.
  • Resource allocation gets confirmed. Once a candidate has been accepted, the allocation gets confirmed and the project manager can monitor just his outstanding requests for resource.

For most project portfolios, the frequency of project change can easily disrupt the balance and cause new bottlenecks. Resource allocation software helps to manage such volatility by providing:

  • What If… scenarios to help re-balance the workload.
  • Tracking details of who changes what, by how much and when, so that adjustments and changes to resource assignments can quickly be made.
Barry Muir is a Director of Innate Management Systems Ltd. We have been implementing resource management software in a wide variety of professional services organizations for more than 20 years.
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