A few years ago, I discussed the three crucial steps to successful Resource Allocation: People, Process, and Tools. We dove deep into defining roles, enforcing a scalable process, and the best tools to make it all come together. While the People and Process aspects still feel evergreen, technology has evolved, and with it, so have the Tools. It’s time for an update.
The Tried and True: The Spreadsheet
As we discussed previously, spreadsheets are an excellent starting point for any project management system. They’re straightforward and customizable. But if you’re scaling your team or projects, there are more advanced tools out there that offer additional features and automated functions that a simple spreadsheet can’t provide. Here’s a link to the template I created a few years ago. It still works, so feel free to use it!
New Tools on the Block
EverHour offers both resource allocation and time tracking capabilities. The feature that really impresses me is its seamless integration with Jira. With this tight coupling, you can update timekeeping data within the Jira interface itself. Time spent on tasks gets reflected instantly in Jira, providing a unified workflow. For those heavily invested in the Atlassian ecosystem, EverHour is an excellent choice.
While Harvest focuses on timekeeping and Forecast takes care of Resource Allocation, these two are inseparable. Forecast allows you to set up a project using an estimate, which feeds into the “Remaining Budget” feature. So, as your team enters in time as the project progresses (through Harvest), this updates the remaining budget. This keeps you apprised in real-time about your budget status, something indispensable for any project manager.
What sets Float apart is its intuitive calendar interface. It’s built for teams that allocate resources on a granular, day-to-day basis. Drag-and-drop functions make this a breeze. However, it falls a bit short for projects spanning several weeks where the resource will be juggling between different tasks.
Smartsheet has evolved from its initial role as “Microsoft Project in the Cloud” to offer an integrated approach for project scheduling and resource allocation. During the proposal phase, Smartsheet allows for meticulous task planning, matching tasks to team members and their estimated timeframes. This feature shines in the estimating phase; as you refine the schedule, the resource allocations adjust automatically, increasing your plan’s accuracy. But the magic really happens once the project is underway. Any changes to the schedule automatically adjust resource allocations, saving time and reducing the chance of errors. Additionally, these changes offer real-time updates on your project budget and completion forecasts. While Smartsheet comes at a higher price point, its robust, automated features can justify the investment, especially for larger teams managing complex projects
- EverHour is great for those embedded in the Jira ecosystem.
- Harvest/Forecast is perfect for real-time budget tracking.
- Float excels in day-to-day resource allocation but falls short for longer-term projects.
- Smartsheet is a comprehensive but pricier option for large teams.
Wrapping it Up
It’s important to choose a tool that aligns well with your organization’s unique needs. As technology evolves, staying updated with the tools that can make your process more efficient is crucial. If you want to dive deeper, feel free to check out my presentation from the 2015 Digital Project Management Summit.
Till next time!