Almost a staggering 70% of projects fail to deliver on their promises. The story may somewhat correlate with your experience. You may be working on a sub-project that could be part of the bigger assignment or launching an online marketing campaign for your business or conducting trade shows worldwide. Projects can be of any type and across various levels.
So, what is vital for the success of a project? No plan can be foolproof, and some problems can even be beyond your control. Projects can get delayed or fail due to escalating costs, quality issues, resource shortages, and much more. A failed project can also hamper the productivity of your existing employees.
You can overcome these problems with various resource optimization techniques to finish your project on time. And, one of the best techniques is resource leveling. But what exactly is resource leveling? How does it fit into the context of resource management? What are its advantages in project management? How do you implement it? Are there any best practices to adopt?
Besides answering these questions, this article covers everything that you need to know about resource leveling.
What Is Resource Leveling and Why Is It Critical?
Resource leveling is a technique that can help you adjust a project’s start and end dates based on resource availability and inform the stakeholders in advance about the revised deadlines. You can also postpone the commencement dates by providing the relevant reasons. It helps you level the demand and supply gap of resources working on a project.
Let us assume that you are working on a project whose deadline is about two weeks away. Now, you want to push the deadline ahead by a week due to resource shortage. The adjustment that you make here is nothing but resource leveling. Resource leveling helps you overcome wide-ranging issues that usually hamper the smooth execution of projects.
What Are the Examples of Resource Leveling?
Let us understand more details about resource leveling through a few real-life examples.
Onboarding Additional Resources
Your business is expanding into new territories where English is not the first language. Your customer support team will need members who understand the local language of your new markets. Your business thus decides to hire additional employees to boost your customer support team.
Delaying Project Commencement
Your new project hires require an additional three days to start working with you. So, you communicate this to the client and shift the commencement date by a week. You also try to make up for the lost time by asking your team to work an additional hour each day. It helps you avoid extending the project completion schedule.
Delaying Project Completion
Unforeseen delays like illness and hospitalization force the project manager to take an unplanned leave for a week. You decide to extend the project timelines by a week as the project is sensitive and requires undivided attention.
What Is Resource Smoothing?
Resource smoothing is a project management technique used for optimizing resources. The method allows you to avoid going beyond the specified limit of resources you identified when planning the project. Imposing time schedules allow you to manage the available amount of resources.
What Is the Difference Between Resource Leveling and Resource Smoothing?
|Resource Leveling||Resource Smoothing|
|Nature||It is all about the availability of resources and how you manage project timelines in different circumstances.||It deals with constraints like project deadlines.|
|Ideal Scenario||Helps you ease the workloads of your overburdened employees.||It is ideal when the allocation of project resources is not proper.|
|Use Case||It is beneficial in cases where time constraint is your priority.||It proves useful when resource availability is crucial.|
Let us consider you have two employees for a project that requires 50 hours of work. You have booked them for six hours for five days of the week. It turns out that the overall time required is 10 hours less than what you have booked them for. You can reduce one hour of their availability each day, which they can utilize for other work.
It helps if project managers use resources wisely without affecting deadlines. Employees can also focus their time on other productive avenues. The primary difference is thus the modification of timelines that is possible in resource leveling. It is not possible to do the same in resource smoothing.
What Is the Difference Between Resource Leveling and Resource Allocation?
Resource allocation is a planning tactic that you can employ during the planning phase of a project. You can define specific resources that will perform various project activities. This exercise helps you identify project resource needs and employees that fit the best for related roles.
The planning will depend on the availability of resources, skill levels, and past performance in working on similar projects. Resource leveling comes at a much later stage of a project when you have most things in place. You can also term resource leveling as a crisis measure to meet stringent project deadlines.
What Are the Benefits of Resource Leveling?
Resource leveling helps you set realistic schedules for your teams and ensures high-quality output. Here are various other ways in which resource leveling helps you with the successful execution of projects.
Prevents Work Overburdening
Leveling helps you avoid utilizing your resources beyond their capacities. Prevention overcomes employee burnout and maintains productivity.
Helps Maintain Output Quality
The output quality gets hampered when your employees overwork. They will focus more on meeting the deadline instead of giving importance to quality.
Enables Undivided Attention
Your employees can focus all their attention on critical project tasks. It gives them the time to produce high-quality output that meets everyone’s expectations.
Employees that do not face burnout have better chances of successful project completion. They will remain happy and dedicated to finishing their tasks, and become more productive.
Gives a Chance to Spare Resources
You can always add fresh faces to the team if you struggle with completing priority projects on time. A new perspective always augurs well for everyone.
Keeps Employees Happy
Employees remain happy when you balance their workload and give them realistic deadlines.
When Do I Need Resource Leveling?
Resource leveling is ideal if you face one of the following scenarios.
- You do not have crucial resources available to execute a project
- A project’s demands exceed the capacity of your existing resources
Resource leveling will help you meet the supply-demand gap when there is a resource shortage. It is especially critical for high-priority projects where a lot is at stake. Roadblocks can be usual with any project, but dealing with them is crucial.
What Are the Different Resource Leveling Techniques?
Here are four essential resource leveling techniques for your next project.
Buying additional time for project completion may not be possible with each client. Some may show less flexibility in terms of deadlines. You may have to deliver everything on time as part of SLAs.
You can adopt a fresh approach and ask your team to begin working on multiple tasks at once. These will have to be independent of each other. For example, to finish Task B, you will need to ensure there is no need to wait till your team gets done with Task A.
Adopting this approach will require you to analyze and prioritize different deliverables. You can also rank them and understand how much can be accomplished in a certain period. It is also possible to accomplish tasks of projects that remain sequential. You can do this without compromising on quality.
It is essential to remember that you do not have to overburden your employees with work. You can still ask your team to work in parallel on tasks without increasing the resource workload.
Successful planning to execute your projects requires adequate documentation of critical paths. You can use flowcharts to represent different tasks of a project. Identifying their dependencies on each other will further help you prioritize them.
Representing each task will help you understand the time required to finish them. This needs to be done by factoring in the availability of your resources. Identifying the demand-supply gap will be possible when you list the resources required to complete a project.
Understanding resource constraints will help you adjust the timelines accordingly. You may begin a project late or extend the deadline based on resource availability. If your client is flexible with deadlines, altering deadlines will not be a problem.
You will have to pull additional resources if changing deadlines is not an option. Your benched resources might come in handy. Else, you may have to look for other options available within the organization.
Crashing comes in handy when fast-tracking does not fulfill your needs. This technique involves allocating additional resources to speed up project completion. You will have to identify priority tasks for early execution. Identifying crucial resources that will help you accomplish those tasks will also be essential.
Your design team may need a helping hand to finish some creatives. Hiring a freelancer can bring immense value. Everyone can work without pressure and deliver high quality output. Involving all the stakeholders before altering project timelines and getting required resource support is essential.
It is a step ahead of the critical path technique. You may find this method helpful as it considers limitations related to your resources. It also factors in resource and task dependencies that hamper the quick execution of projects. You can allocate resources to finish one task at a time and not work on parallel ones.
Listing resources and understanding their availability is crucial for managing project delivery timelines. There is also a slack time that you can use as a buffer. It is a duration of a few days that you can place between the completion of the last task and the project deadline. It can give you peace of mind of having some additional time to fix issues, if any.
Your team will get more buffer time if they finish tasks ahead of their schedules. A delay of a few days will eliminate the buffer time but would not affect project deadlines. Most projects require the coordinated action of all stakeholders like designers, developers, marketers, and much more.
Giving everyone additional room reduces pressure and increases the chances of getting better output. Your resources will also avoid burnout and remain productive throughout.
What Are the Pitfalls of Resource Leveling Techniques?
Resource leveling can be a double-edged sword if not utilized correctly. While it offers several benefits, there can be a downside to it. However, it depends on the execution and how well you can handle the changes. Let us look at some of the negative aspects of resource leveling.
Delays in submission can lead to unhappy clients. It may ultimately cost you the client and impact your revenue.
Extended timelines and the addition of new resources can increase operational costs that you may not have foreseen. It will impact your profit margins, which may not be desirable.
Your employees may experience reduced productivity if new schedules do not add much value to their work.
The project may derail or stall if critical tasks do not get executed as desired.
Resource Level Your Projects the Right Way Today With Polaris
Your resources are your biggest strength to execute projects successfully. And there is no way you would want to hamper their productivity, and not get the desired output. If you are looking for the right resource management software, then Polaris can help.
Polaris, a self-driving professional services automation (PSA) solution, helps you manage your projects in real-time. You also get live inputs about your resources’ effort and estimated completion time.
Project managers can offer instant feedback to speed up the completion of time-sensitive tasks. The Project Pulse feature gives you detailed know-how of key metrics, including hours and financials.
That is not all. There are several other exciting features that Polaris PSA provides to finish your projects on time and win the hearts of your clients.