A key component of planning is the allocation of small business resources to the project to ensure that personnel and materials are available as needed to achieve the goals. After the initial resource allocation is completed, resource leveling occurs to match the resource allocations to resource availability in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Resource Allocation

Resource allocation, also called resource loading, commits certain resources to project plan activities. More than one resource and type of resource can be allocated to each activity. Some project phases and activities require fewer resources than others, and these requirements can vary during the length on the work. For example, roles committed to a software development project might include a team leader, change facilitator, business analyst, process owner, process specialist, process modeler, solution architect, solution designer, programmer, training specialist, technical writer and end user. However, the training specialist and technical writer might not be required to join the team until the deployment phase of the project. Therefore, these two resources are allocated to the deployment phase of the project only.

Resource Leveling

After using the resource allocation process to define project resource requirements, resource leveling is used to relate the requirements to available resources. This leveling process ensures that resource demand does not exceed available resources during a particular time frame, and in light of individual activity interdependencies. During resource leveling, resource requirements are expressed in terms of the hours and days during which the resource is required. For example, assume that during the resource allocation process, a programmer is allocated for eight hours each day to a project. However, the original plan assigns three different eight-hour tasks to the programmer on the same day. Using resource leveling, the three tasks are rescheduled to occur on three different days. As a result, the problem of the overallocation of the resource is resolved.

Resource Leveling Approaches

One of three resource leveling techniques are typically used to correlate resource requirements to available resources: critical path, fast tracking and crashing. Using the critical path method, required project activities are specified, the time required to complete each activity is stated, and activity dependence is identified. In turn, fast tracking enables tasks to be run simultaneously, and crashing is used to assign additional resources to a project stage or activity. Each technique is used to ensure particular project objectives are accomplished on time.

Benefits of Resource Allocation and Resource Leveling

Resource allocation and leveling support the proper allocation of business resources during a project's life cycle. The appropriate allocation of resources attempts to ensure that delays in the completion of tasks will be avoided. As a result, the on-time completion of project tasks is more likely. Such completion of tasks avoids conflicts in team member assignments, which can lead to budget overruns. Through the avoidance of over- and under-allocation of resources, it is more likely that a project is completed on time and within the budget.