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What is Resource leveling?

by StarAgile

July 30, 2020
Category Project Management


Resources, whether it is humans, tools, equipment, or machines, all are essential parts of any project. Project management is the way by which the project objectives and goals are accomplished by controlling and managing the projects to achieve the expectations of the customer. 

In one of the articles we talked about the constraints such as the cost, time, and scope or quality, however these influence the projects in a way that there may require more resources working or fewer resources working to complete the task based on the constraints. 

One of the duties of the project manager is to use the resources optimally to achieve the goals without exceeding the value of the constraint already defined. You can refer to the overview of PMP certification to master the duties of a PM.

What is Resource leveling?

No project is foolproof, there are many times you might have heard that the projects have failed due to escalation of the cost, the delay incurred in the project, the scope is changed significantly or the quality is not met.

Of course, we will come to resource leveling, let me point in above descriptions that all the three constraints may happen if the resources are not managed properly. 

So what is resource leveling? Resource leveling defined in PMBOK as - “A technique in which start and finish dates are adjusted based on resource constraints to balance the demand for resources with the available supply.”

Why is it important in project management?

Resource leveling is important because to manage the resources efficiently to structure the project in such a way that the cost overruns and delays in delivery time are not encountered at the same time the resources are used optimally to bring more stability in the project with the best available resources. 

You can use any resource-leveling technique for achieving this. Let’s take one example for better illustration. Let us say you need to make a website in 1 week with available cost and scope, you can employ a resource who can do this in 1 week, now there is a requirement for 2 such websites, again you can employ 2 resources to complete the 2 websites in 1 week, instead if you do resource leveling you employ single resource to do the 2 websites in 2 weeks instead of doing the 2 websites in same 1 week.


When is Resource leveling required?

If you have understood my example above, then you will know that when resources are scarce resource-leveling is done. When there is a demand for resources more compared to the available supply again resource-leveling comes into the picture. 

From the example above, instead of using an extra resource to do another website, you allow the same resource to do the job in 2 weeks this is where the resource leveling comes into the picture. It is not the case with human resources; you need double of every infrastructure, servers, work stations, and software for website development which can be avoided by resource leveling.

The accomplishment of Resource leveling

There are 2 reasons to do resource leveling,

  1. Reduction in project cost – As we have seen in the example the project cost may be reduced if you do not have an extra resource for the 2 websites and other infrastructure requirements. Here the project duration is slightly extended further to accommodate the reduction in the cost by resource leveling techniques.
  2. It ensures a flexible and realistic schedule –Suppose from the example discussed above, if the web developer gets occupied with any other priority work, then there will be a delay in the project. However, please remember that bringing in another resource would add to cost overruns for the company.

What are the pros and cons of resource leveling? 

The pros of resource leveling are as follows,

  • Bad allocation of resources can be prevented.
  • The bench time resource can be made available for the tasks.
  • It also ensures that the resources are not over-allocated when there is limited availability of the resources.
  • It ensures that the resources are shared with the tasks which they know already.
  • There is clear visibility in resource allocation.
  • By giving the resources enough break time in between the tasks, reduces the number of disruptions harming the schedule.
  • Only the resources that have completed the required training are provided with the opportunity.

The cons of the resource leveling if poorly executed are as follows,

  • There may be a delay in certain activities being completed
  • It may require additional resources however as per the plan there may be difficulty in assigning one.
  • The activity dependencies may not be changed properly.
  • There may be difficulty in removing certain tasks or adding more tasks.
  • There might be budget overruns or delays in the projects.

In which Project Phase is Resource leveling Important?

The resources are planned in the project planning phase. However, in the execution phase of the project management life cycle, resource leveling is very important.

Resource leveling Techniques

The resource leveling techniques are as follows,

1. The critical path -This method is used to calculate the minimum duration of the project. It estimates the early start and finish dates for the activities and the late start and finish dates of the activities without considering the resource limitations.

2. Critical Chain Method - This process adds the duration buffers to the critical path and the feeder process. It adds dummy activity to balance the overall path.

3. Pure Resource leveling - This is the technique that is used to straightway balance the available resources with the demand of the resources.

4. Resource smoothing - It is similar to leveling in which there are specified limits to the resource requirements. For example, if a resource is required for 47 hours for the first 3 weeks and 22 hours for the next 2 weeks the resource smoothing will "smooth" the process for 38 hours per week for the 5-week duration.

5. Fast Tracking and crashing - There are 2 procedures used in emergencies such as Fast-tracking and Crashing.

  1. Fast-tracking - Here the activities scheduled to run consecutively will be rescheduled to run parallel.
  2. Crashing - This is achieved by adding extra work efforts, for example outsourcing some activities or working overtime, etc. Here the objective is to meet the minimum time as shown by the critical path method.

Conclusion

Resource leveling in project management is an important project management concept as advocated by the PMI in PMBOK. At this point, we recommend each and everyone who has read this article to go and explore more in learning and get a PMP certification. StarAgile is a training partner for PMI to provide online training for the professionals in this area. StarAgile has excellent consultants to train professionals. To enquire about the training and for registrations click on the links provided in this article.