No matter how well you plan a project, you will inevitably run into some kind of resource shortage. That’s why you need a strategy for finalizing your schedule. Be it in materials or personnel, preparing for these situations is a crucial part of developing a proper project timeline. You use a strategy known as schedule network analysis to evaluate your schedule and preempt costly mistakes or delays.
Resource leveling is one of many schedule network analysis techniques one can employ to alleviate scarcity and keep your timelines on track. Throughout this article we’ll break down exactly how this simple but effective technique works.
How Does Resource Leveling Benefit Schedules?
You may already have an idea of what resource leveling is based on the name alone. It allows you to tweak and fit your schedule based on what you’ll have on hand at the time. This is especially helpful for projects where resources are limited.
One of the most common issues faced by software development projects is a lack of personnel. You may need multiple tasks completed but only have a single engineer trained in that field. Conversely, you might find a handful of engineers left with nothing to do for a month while waiting for other work to be done.
Resource leveling is used to identify these periods of high and low resource demand before they become a problem, keeping unnecessary expenses and delays to a minimum. It makes sure your specialist engineer can work on their tasks over consecutive months instead of expecting it all at once. It may also free up engineers for other projects. That means a more efficient development environment for everyone.
An Example of Resource Leveling
To make our point clearer, we’ve come up with an easy to understand demonstration of resource leveling at work.
Imagine you have three upcoming tasks that need completing as soon as possible. Your project deadline is set for three weeks from now. You only have two engineers, each with their own specialties – let’s call them James and Kim. Let’s take a look at how you might break this down with the resource leveling technique.
- James and Kim work on Task A – the largest of the tasks – for a week.
- Kim works on Task B – which involves her specialty – for a week.
- With Task A and Task B complete, Task C can begin.
- James works on Task C – his speciality – for a week.
Task B had to wait for Kim to complete her work on Task A even though Task B does not rely on A being complete. With unlimited resources you would’ve been able to complete these tasks at the same time and saved a whole week from your timeline. But if you had based your deadline on unlimited resources, even smart task management wouldn’t have been able to save you from a late delivery.
This is what makes Resource Leveling such an important technique. As much as we wish otherwise, assuming we have unlimited resources is an unrealistic expectation and can only lead to an unrealistic timeline. Using smart strategies to optimize your project schedules keeps you, your developers, and your clients content and productive.
Understanding the information in this article is an essential part of project management and a vital part of the PMP exam. Improve your project management skills or prepare for the PMP Certification exam by taking a quality online PMP exam prep course.