The task of assigning resources is critical to ensuring the success of a project. It is up to the project manager to determine what sort of resources are needed for a project, and after indentifying these resources to ensure that they are available for a project. It is necessary to balance the availability and costs of resources against project schedules to determine how to assign these resources, and to monitor the project throughout the duration to ensure that resources have been properly allocated and are being used effectively. When resources are not properly assigned at the beginning of a project, or are not properly managed throughout the duration of the project, it can lead to slowed project times or even complete failure of the project.
Once a project has been identified and scheduled, it is necessary to determine what sorts of resources are available for the task at hand. This is not the end of the process, however, but is just the beginning. It is further necessary to ensure that the right resources are chosen to assign to a project. Most projects generally consider several primary categories of resources: labor, equipment, and material (Gray and Larson, 2011). For each of these categories there may be a range of resources that are available for application to a project, but not all of these resources are necessarily the best choices. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when determining how to assign resources.
In labor resources, for example, it is necessary to assign resources that are cost-effective and appropriate for the project. Some projects require skilled or experienced labor that may be more expensive that unskilled labor. A successful project will have labor assigned that can do the task at hand effectively while keeping costs to a minimum. If labor is over-assigned in terms of costs that will obviously affect the cost of the project and may lead to problems during critical stages. If labor is under-assigned and is not adequate in terms of skill or experience to complete a project then it may become necessary to allocate additional or more costly labor resources later in the project, which can slow the completion of the project and drive up costs unexpectedly (Pennypacker and Dye, 2002).
Labor is among the most critical of resources, and must be planned for as efficiently and effectively as possible. Choosing the right labor for a project must consider availability, cost, skill and other factors. It is then necessary to ensure throughout the duration of a project that this labor is used properly. If a project is stalled or delayed the labor that has been assigned to that project may go unused, driving up the costs of the project. If the labor that was assigned to the task is unable to adequately meet the requirements that are required for proper completing then the project may again be delayed. When assigning labor it is necessary to consider as many contingencies as possible and to remain flexible when possible, so that critical labor resources do not go unused.
Resource leveling can help to overcome some of the potential problems that can arise when resources are not allocated properly. When multiple projects are underway at the same time, resource leveling allows managers to adjust to issues as they arise in each project, or to adjust the schedules of different projects based on the availability of particular needed resources. If, for example, a particular labor unit is needed on multiple assignments, the assignments can be scheduled according to factors such as priority, availability of resources, and deadline. A wide range of factors must be considered when allocating resources to ensure that projects are completed on schedule and on budget.
Gray, C. F., & Larson, E. W. (2011). Project management: The managerial process. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Pennypacker, J. S., & Dye, L. D. (2002). Managing multiple projects: Planning, scheduling, and allocating resources for competitive advantage. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.