It’s easy enough using tools like Microsoft Project, to create a Project Plan and allocate resources against it. But how do you make sure that each resource has an amount of work allocated which exactly matches the amount of time they have available, i.e. how do you know they are not under or over loaded?

Very few tools actually provide sound resource leveling features, so we’ve described here 5 generic tips for doing it yourself…

1. Create a Bullet Proof Plan

The first step is to create a Work Breakdown Structure that includes ALL phases, activities and tasks. The worst thing you can do is to level your resources and then find that you’ve missed critical tasks in your plan and have to start again. Once your task list is complete, list all resources that are allocated to the project. Miss no-one. If you later find you’ve missed someone, then it could play havoc with your leveling. Only with a complete list of tasks and resources are you truly ready to level your resources.

2. Start with Critical Tasks

Now, identify the most critical tasks in your plan and calculate the amount of effort required to complete them. Then allocate your best resources to completing these tasks and make sure that the effort allocated is sufficient.

3. Perform Leveling

Great - so every critical task has the resources needed to complete it. But in doing this, were any of your resources over-allocated? For instance, is Bob Smith allocated for 60 hours a week instead of 40? The process of reallocating people against tasks to even out their workload, is called “resource leveling” To do it, take these steps:

  • Identify the number of hours that each person in your team has available for work.
  • Then calculate the number of hours they are allocated to tasks, in your plan.
  • If the number of hours allocated is greater than the number of hours they have available, then they are “over-allocated”. If it’s the reverse, then they are “under-allocated”.
  • For any resources under or over allocated, you need to change the tasks they are allocated to, in order to try and perfectly fit their available hours against their allocated hours.
  • Only when you’ve completed this, are resources considered as “levelled”.

4. Tackle Non-Critical Tasks

It’s now time to perform all of the above steps for your non-critical tasks. This is a time consuming process, but by starting with your critical tasks first and your non-critical tasks second, you know that the project has a great chance of succeeding.

5. Constant Surveillance

Your Project Plan is a living and breathing document. It changes every time you complete a new task or finish an old one. You need to constantly monitor your resource utilization and make sure that your team are allocated to tasks in the most efficient manner. This will give you the best chance of succeeding.

Simon White, Method123’s Fortnightly Newsletter