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What is Resource Overallocation? Resource overallocation happens when assignments of more tasks than your resources can handle or reasonably complete within a standard eight hour workweek are assigned. When a company has many projects, resource overallocation is a risk, especially if your resources are small and involved in multiple tasks. When this happens, because your project health and resource allocation affect how teams work, both in-house and outsourced, your projects may stall, come to a complete stop or fail, especially if they are over-allocated.
Why Resource Allocation is Important Overallocation is most likely to occur when there are multiple projects in a company or when software is used to allocate tasks to resources. Overallocation occurs is when project managers have been encouraged to meet unreasonable expectations. Project managers then push their resource allocation beyond obtainable limits in order to meet constrained schedules and budgets. Overallocation puts unreasonable pressure on resources and can be costly not only in overtime monies but in resource burnout.
Techniques for Avoiding Resource Overload The most obvious way resource overload can be avoided is by setting up a project schedule that is realistic. Avoiding pushing employees through an unreasonable or aggressive project schedule can be the first defense in thwarting resource allocation problems. Scheduling the project in a realistic way is part of creating an effective project plan.
1. Resource Leveling In this method, the project manager can either level resources by hand (complicated, but perhaps more sound) or use a software program such as Microsoft Project to level resources for you. This method requires the project manager to be truly on top of his or her game, and to recognize areas for concern before they become problematic.
2. Prioritize Projects By prioritizing projects, when a resource allocation overload is apparent or a task conflict exists, it can be resolved without piling pressure on the individual or team (or requiring the individual or team to put in a couple twelve-hour days). In this way, when you find your resources have been overloaded, decisions as to which tasks they should focus on are easier to make.
3. Linking Tasks Linking tasks is more of a logistical solution. If the resource has been assigned to research the markets for project A and project B, these tasks could be linked. In this manner, when it appears that a resource has been over-allocated, really the tasks are similar enough to count for two projects. By linking these tasks from the different projects, the problem can be resolved.
4. Leaving Breathing Room When scheduling the project, it is vital to leave breathing room between tasks. However, it is important to not under-allocate resources as this could lead to a loss of budget monies meaning resource allocations problems will affect your projects health. A fine balance must be achieved between breathing room and not moving forward quickly enough.
9. Avoid the “Putting out fires”approach to project management If your team is consistently putting out fires, it makes it difficult to focus on the project. Moreover, by putting out fires, the team becomes knee-deep in ash, while project tasks pile up. This is where project management techniques such as Scrum come in handy.