Operational Excellence

Examples of Resource Allocation in Project Management

Written By: Ray Waldron
March 27, 2024
10 min read

Remember your most efficient, productive project? The one where you hit every milestone, didn't struggle with bottlenecks, and finished before the deadline? Don't you wish every project could go that smoothly—instead of devolving into a confusing mess where no one's sure what to do next?

Effective resource utilization removes the typical barriers to successful project outcomes, giving you the satisfying experience of unhindered progress. When you understand resource availability and strategic allocation methods, the challenges of prioritization, communication, and task assignment disappear. Teams are empowered to focus on valuable work without interruption, which shortens project timelines and leads to higher ROI.

According to a Forrester Total Economic ImpactTM (TEI) study conducted on behalf of Quickbase, learning how to manage resource allocation with software tools and best practices can boost company ROI by more than 300%. By following a detailed resource allocation plan, you can progressively increase efficiency and boost profitability across the company.

What is Resource Allocation?

Resource allocation is the process of strategically sourcing and distributing resources to ensure the best project outcomes. But it's not a one-and-done task; it's a dynamic procedure that adapts to changing resource needs throughout the project lifecycle.

Resources include everything required to complete a project, such as people, materials, equipment, software, time, skills, and physical space. Properly assessing and allocating these resources is critical for:

  • Simplifying project management. A clear view of resource requirements makes planning timelines, delegating tasks, and predicting risks or delays easier.

  • Controlling costs. You're less likely to go over budget when resources are distributed according to priorities and needs.

  • Increasing efficiency. Team members with instant access to essential resources can move forward with tasks quickly and reduce idle time.

  • Minimizing bottlenecks. When your teams always have enough resources, you don't have to put critical tasks on hold while you wait for more supplies or find new software tools.

  • Improving ROI. Projects completed on time and under budget free your company to take on more work. Satisfied customers are more than happy to continue partnering with you, which keeps pipelines full and cash flowing in.

Examples of Resource Allocation in Project Management

To understand what effective resource allocation looks like in practice, take a look at a couple of examples.

Resource allocation example 1: Education

The ABC School District wants to implement a new reading program. Administrators believe the change will boost student performance and academic growth. To ensure these outcomes, they plan to:

  • Put together a team to research options and compare prices

  • Set a budget to purchase the program and any related digital tools or subscriptions

  • Communicate the upcoming change to teachers

  • Set a timeline for teacher and educator training

  • Hire an experienced implementation and training team

  • Assign administrative staff to inform parents ahead of the program's launch

  • Provide ongoing assistance for teachers as they become familiar with the new material

  • Use their existing learning management system to track and report on program implementation and progress

If the district effectively distributes and manages these resources, program implementation should be successful, and students' reading abilities should improve over time.

Resource allocation example 2: Manufacturing

The Expedient Manufacturing Company receives an order from one of its biggest customers with a request for the fastest possible turnaround. Preorders are already flooding in, so Expedient needs to ensure they can meet the deadline.

Their strategic resource allocation plan includes:

  • Determining the equipment and skills necessary to complete the project

  • Analyzing current resource use to determine production capacity

  • Finding parts, materials, and shipping suppliers who can accommodate the budget and timeline

  • Planning the production run based on resource availability

  • Monitoring the manufacturing process and adjusting resource use to minimize waste and delays

  • Coordinating packing and shipment to ensure on-time delivery

By planning in advance and keeping the team on track, Expedient should be able to deliver the product in plenty of time for its customer to fulfill preorders.

Crafting a Resource Allocation Plan

Applying the principles of these hypothetical resource management strategies to your next project requires thoughtful planning. These steps can help you develop a resource allocation method that streamlines project management and simplifies execution:

  1. Clarify your project's goal. Map out the steps and tasks required to achieve that goal, and determine what resources you need to deliver results on time, on budget, and on par with stakeholder expectations.

  2. Assess current resource utilization.Project management software helps you visualize work capacity and resource use across teams and spot gaps where you may require additional resources.

  3. Lay out a project timeline. Based on present resource use, chart a course for completing the project by the promised deadline. Set milestones to measure progress, and schedule tasks accordingly. Remember to include the time it will take to obtain more resources, if necessary.

  4. Assess potential challenges and risks. Brainstorm every possible issue that could arise during the project, and make an alternative plan to keep your teams on track. This may include how to delegate tasks if a team member gets sick, where to source materials if your usual vendor goes out of stock, or how to handle a client's sudden request for a change of direction.

  5. Acquire and allocate resources. If you need to buy materials, rent equipment, or bring on extra help, do it far enough ahead of the project's start date to prevent delays. Maximize efficiency and productivity by assigning available team members to tasks that match their skill sets.

  6. Set expectations and equip your teams. Be realistic about how much time each team member can dedicate to the project in light of current resource utilization and priorities. Ensure everyone understands their assignments and has full access to the resources needed to complete tasks.

  7. Reallocate as necessary. Pay close attention to red flags that signal resource waste, such as a team member missing a deadline or spending surpassing projections before a big milestone. Be ready to recruit under-utilized resources or provide teams with additional support to bring the project back on track.

Case study: Resource Allocation in Project Management Dramatically Improves Productivity

Intentionally planning your resource allocation can transform an outdated approach to project management into an efficient, streamlined process that fuels company growth. Such was the case with ProPoint Graphics. The design agency attempted to use a collection of spreadsheets to manage over 100 projects, requiring the team to manually add and sync data about customers, production, and sales.

The slow process limited the time team members could spend on projects and made it difficult for the company to achieve meaningful growth. ProPoint needed a way to centralize data, automate updates, and deliver real-time information on demand—and reclaim all those hours of unbillable work.

"Surprisingly, Quickbase was the only product that offered the integrated functionality that we needed in one nice package," says ProPoint founder and principal Daniel Pries. "It had all the features of a much larger system but was priced affordably for smaller-sized businesses."

With Quickbase, ProPoint was able to:

  • Increase staff utilization to 95%

  • Gain around $100,000 in billable staff time

  • Cut unproductive time by 33%

  • Take on 4x more projects

Putting all their data in one place made it easier for ProPoint to monitor project progress and address bottlenecks. Automations freed the team from the burden of managing spreadsheets and made it possible to allocate existing resources across more projects.

"We haven't missed a deadline since we have started using [Quickbase]," reports Pries. "[It's] just what we needed to grow our company without stressing our resources."

Best Practices for Effective Resource Allocation

Whatever your unique project management situation, you can meet challenges and boost efficiency by improving how you regulate, track, and distribute resources. Integrate these recommended strategies into your resource allocation plan to guide your next project on the path to success:

  1. Prioritize. An accurate idea of where to invest resources for the greatest returns clarifies what should be done first in a project's timeline. You can then allocate resources based on availability to prevent bottlenecks, support productivity, and increase ROI.

  2. Align team skills with project needs. Team members whose skills, experience, and passions match task requirements work faster and are more likely to be efficient than those with less expertise or interest.

  3. Plan every detail. Visualizing each step and task involved in a project enables more accurate and realistic predictions of resource needs. You can use this information to create a resource allocation plan that considers the current project load and doesn't overburden your teams.

  4. Track individual resources. Compare task completion rates, spending, and resource use to your initial project plan to ensure efficiency and minimize waste.

  5. Facilitate communication. Clear, consistent communication alerts team leaders and project managers to problems as they emerge. Resources can be redistributed in response to resolve bottlenecks, prevent delays, and minimize spending.

  6. Automate and streamline workflows. Software that automates repetitive tasks makes complex projects easier to manage and increases billable time. Platforms like Quickbase connect your teams to information and resources as needed. Clear reporting tools provide an accurate picture of availability and capacity and enable quick, dynamic allocation decisions.

  7. Be flexible. Even if you plan effectively, resource needs change during project execution. Don't panic; revisit your resource utilization data and see where you can shift team members, money, or tools to prevent delays and ensure quality results.

For Further Learning: Boost your Resource Allocation Knowledge

A consistent, effective method for project evaluation and resource distribution doesn't emerge overnight. It takes practice, patience, and a few failures to learn what makes a project successful—and replicate those processes consistently.

Check out these articles for more ways to improve your approach to resource allocation:

Want to take your knowledge of project management and resource use to the next level? These trainings and certifications can help:

Increase Efficiency and ROI with an Effective Resource Allocation Plan

As you refine your approach to managing and allocating resources, you should see measurable productivity improvements that prevent projects from extending beyond deadlines or going over budget. Increased team capacity can enable you to complete more projects at lower costs, leading to better ROI and greater company growth.

Project management platforms streamline your resource allocation planning with powerful data management, workflow automation, and reporting tools. When resource utilization and team capacity information is available at a glance, you can make the best allocation decisions every time—and enjoy more projects that sail along smoothly to completion.

Ready to stop wasting resources and improve your allocation process? Book a consultation with Quickbase to learn how our resource management solutioncan boost your company's efficiency and ROI.

Picture of Associate Content Marketing Manager Ray Waldron set against a lochinvar background
Written By: Ray Waldron

Ray Waldron is an Associate Content Marketing Manager at Quickbase.

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