No matter the industry, the goal of project management is to produce the greatest results (read: fastest and most valuable) using the least amount of resources and investment. This is no easy task, as it is more rare to hear a project manager to complain of having too many resources at their disposal than spotting a rainbow after sundown. Mentioning project resources, we are not limited solely to physical materials available. In addition to physical materials, engineering resources include:
- Project department budgets
- Personnel and individual skill sets
- Hardware tools
- Software tools
- Knowledge of previous project problems and solutions
What can lead to project managers pulling their hair out and shouting at the ceiling is that each of these resources are interdependent upon one another, so a resource deficiency here causes a headache over there.
In engineering and construction, resource allocation is just as challenging as it is in IT or medical sciences, if not more so (factor in frequency of jobsite injuries). As projects are executed more often than not resources need to be shifted to problem areas, whether due to unforeseen events or improper project planning. As a project manager, you are the one responsible for your team, and delivering projects are promised to clients.
So, how can Easy Projects help you with your resource allocation, through thick and thin? Here are four steps how our PM software helps engineering project managers with resource allocation, even when resources are scarce (and they almost always are).
1. Collaborative communication
On the left, the above diagram displays what traditional “one-to-many” management communication looks like, and the diagram on the right is known as “many-to-many” communication, also known as collaborative communication. PM software like Easy Projects allows for all members of the team to not only see each task assigned to each team member, but also to communicate with them when needed for project success.
Open, free communication between all members of the team allows for greater resource allocation regarding time and knowledge. Say X is assigned a task they are familiar with, but not expert at. They can send a message to the team asking if anyone has experience and intimate knowledge with the subject, and if Y does, there’s no hinderance to freely communicating with X to help the project move along.
Also, if A finishes their assignment ahead of schedule, if they are not immediately needed for another task, they can help out B if the manager approves.
2. Resource loading reports: capacity planning mastered
The above is an image of what an Easy Projects resource loading report looks like (fields can be assigned to manage any type of project, from construction to web design). These reports solve the issues of inefficiency regarding personnel. With a color coded report the project manager can swiftly detect whether staff are overloaded with tasks or being under-utilized.
Capacity planning using our resource loading reports solves the issue of staff having either too much or too little work; both are equally as stifling for performance. Issues with both can be caused by a misallocation of resources.
If one of your staff are finishing tasks of equal effort far more quickly than another, perhaps it is not a personnel issue, but rather greater access to tools that the other does not have. Whatever the case, by viewing the reports you know which personnel to communicate with and discover the underlying cause.
3. Resource loading simulation
The resource loading simulation is an allocation tool unique to Easy Projects. During the project planning stage it solves much of the guesswork and research needed to determine who can work on what, and when.
The simulation takes into account resource factors including personnel skills, staff availability, and project time estimates to let management make decisions on how, when, and with whom a proposed project will be solved with the available resources. For example, if you asked “Who is available for the XYZ project beginning from 9/16-10/28?” you would get a list that looks like this:
Whether it is time, personnel, tools, budget, you name it, Easy Projects puts management in the pilot’s seat, able to have a comprehensive assessment of available resources, and thus how to assign or reassign staff to meet engineering deadlines.
4. Engineering project management specific templates
As one of the leaders in the cloud PM software industry, we cater to multiple industries, and each has their specific project management needs. Easy Projects includes a set of several project templates for teams, including engineering projects.
Not only do the templates include industry-relevant preset fields and options, but it saves companies time on future projects. Odds are that if you are an engineering firm, you will likely be working on similar projects throughout your career. Templates can be customized and stored to be loaded later for future projects, being that they will require similar parameters and resource allocation reports and simulations.
Limited and valuable, project time is further saved on projects with the availability of our engineering specific templates.
Easy Projects: all your engineering firm needs
Well, not everything, but for engineering project management Easy Projects is one of the most intuitive and flexible PM softwares available on the market. Take our free trial run to experience the usefulness and depth of our platform for resource allocation. We look forward to making your next engineering project a success.