Why Assign Resources on the Schedule?
Project schedules are primarily about dates, right? They help you see what work is due to happen when so everyone can get ready to do their tasks.
And that’s where the problems start.
You see, many project managers don’t add resource names to tasks. Once the task list and dependencies are created, you can see the shape of the project. Why bother to go to the effort of creating a new column and assigning resources to work on the Gantt chart? Everyone has access to the plan and you’ve worked on the dates collaboratively so it’s not as if they don’t know what to do.
Whether you use Primavera P6, Microsoft Project or something else to create your project schedules, you’ll know there’s the feature to add people’s names to tasks. So if you’re one of those project managers who have never seen the need to use that feature, here’s why you should think again and assign resources on the schedule.
Increase the likelihood of task completion
Tasks with owners are more likely to get done. If you can see your name on a list, you do the work – that feels like common sense!
However, there’s more to it than that. There’s a sociopsychological phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility that says people are less likely to act if there are other people around who could also act.
In other words, if there are 10 developers in the team, they all might assume the task is someone else’s problem. When no one is named as the task owner, there’s a risk that no one works on it at all.
Increase the chances that tasks are worked on in a timely fashion and assign the work to someone specific. They can always delegate it on to a colleague or come back to you and ask to be reassigned. But at least then someone has the work on their radar.
Use resources more effectively
When tasks have resources on the schedule, it’s obviously easy to see who is working on what. But what if things need to change? Another project is starting and you want to reassign an experienced team member to lead on that work.
When your project schedule has names against activities, you can quickly spot what work someone can drop or pass on to a colleague.
You’ll see what’s at risk if you move people off the project. Can those tasks be completed by a more inexperienced team member? Or do you need to shuffle the team around even more to make sure both projects get the staffing levels they need?
There’s also a monetary value in doing this. Different resources cost different amounts when they are deployed on your project, and if you are charging clients or even simply tracking costs internally, it’s useful to know who your most expensive resources are. Make sure these people are allocated to the tasks requiring their level of expertise. If work can be done by someone less experienced (i.e. cheaper) then that’s a useful way of curbing your budget.
It’s essential to know what project team members are working on if you want to use their skills and your funding effectively.
Manage staffing levels
Another useful reporting feature from scheduling software is the resource allocation report. This shows how much of their available time a resource is allocated to project work.
Look at who has too much to do and is over-allocated: those are your colleagues at risk of burnout. What can you do now to save that from happening?
Look at who is under-allocated and could potentially take on more tasks or another project. If you don’t fill their time with interesting, valued work, they might spend it emailing copies of their resumé to other firms.
As a project lead, it’s embarrassing to have to ask people what they are working on! You never have to do that if you have their names against scheduled tasks.
The great thing about modern project management software tools is that enterprise-grade tech makes it easy to pull out resource and task information. The reporting is simple to understand. You can dig down into the data and review anomalies with a few clicks. Spot trends easily and take action to ensure the project gets back on track.
All of this is possible if you manage your schedule properly: and that means making sure resource information is included.
It’s simple enough to add resources on the schedule and have them show up on the Gantt chart. In most cases, you’ll know who is responsible for what anyway because you will have worked with them to create the schedule. Go through the tasks and allocate the work to people where it is clear they are the owner. If there are any tasks where ownership remains unclear, talk to your project team and get those actions assigned to someone as quickly as possible.
Then you can start benefiting from more data in your schedule and a deeper appreciation for what’s going on across the project.