A simple guide to resource loading

Keep your teams' workloads manageable during projects with this technique.

Graphic illustrating resource article

Let's begin with a simple math problem. How many days does a team of masons need to install drywall in a new condo building? Two pros can typically cover a 12-by-16-foot room in about an hour. How about while working at 75% capacity? Or 50%?

These are the types of issues that project managers often need to solve. Finding the right answers can be the difference between meeting a project deadline or going over time and budget.

Using resource loading, you can avoid unrealistic forecasts, inaccurate estimates, overloading resources, and missed deadlines.

Not sure where to start? In this guide, you'll learn what resource loading is, its benefits, and how to calculate it.

What is resource loading?

Resource loading is the process of filling team members' available hours with project tasks. This resource management process is done in the early stages of the project—typically during the planning stage.

While it might sound good on paper to make use of all of the hours on your team's schedule, this isn't always practicable. Research from Asana shows that workers spend 58% of their time doing work about work (i.e., attending meetings, getting status updates, and chasing information). If you aim to utilize 100% of a person's capacity, they might be overwhelmed.

While resource loading, you should also consider:

  • Extra responsibilities: Team members might need to step in and take on a task for someone who calls in sick or is working on another project.
  • Unplanned events: Team members might have to take on more work when changes are made to project requirements.

It's best to keep resource loads at a manageable level. For example, instead of loading a schedule with 40 hours' worth of work (100%), a more realistic approach would be to aim for 30 hours a week (75% utilization). This will give the person enough time to get their job done while accommodating (sometimes unavoidable) non-work tasks.

What is resource loading in construction?

Resource loading in construction is a technique that loading schedules with activities, needed resources, and task durations. One of the significant benefits of resource loading in construction is that it increases the chance of project success.

From the start, project managers and stakeholders can determine how many resources are needed for the project and the best way to allocate work. You can assign tasks based on your team's capacity, reducing overallocation and conflicts with contractors. For instance, you can estimate how long the masons will need to install drywall throughout the condo complex and avoid unrealistic deadlines that can derail the project.

Determining costs is also easier as managers can see all the time estimated for each task in resource-loaded schedules.

That's not to say that resource loading in construction is always easy. It's difficult to get estimates without data, so if you don't know how long it takes to lay the foundation of an apartment block, it might be hard to do any resource loading. Also, contractors estimate durations in days and months and hardly ever in fractions of time like hours. So you might find it hard to round up hours into standard units of measurement.

What are the benefits of resource loading?

The main advantage of resource loading is that it maximizes the use of your team's time. When used correctly, you can identify and fix mistakes in the planning stage of a project.

A resource loading chart shows when workers are under or over 100% capacity. This is important because research shows that overworked people are less efficient and more prone to exhaustion. Using the chart, resource managers can avoid overallocation and reduce burnout among their team members. It also helps prevent underallocation, which can lead to bored, disengaged workers who aren't challenged or used to their full potential.

Resource loading in project management helps you set realistic deadlines and prevents communication gaps, as you must confirm capacity with team members before diving into resource loading.

What is the difference between resource loading and resource leveling?

Resource loading is all about maximizing utilization levels, while resource leveling deals with allocation limits of resources.

What is a resource-loaded schedule?

A resource-loaded schedule is a project schedule that contains information like tasks, due dates, costs, and available resources. You can't allocate tasks if you don't know what needs to be done, so you need a work breakdown structure before creating a resource-loaded schedule.

Creating a resource-loaded schedule requires inputting details such as planned activities, timelines, available resources, and rates. The visual representation of resource availability and capacity helps project managers produce accurate project estimates and shows them possible bottlenecks. It also aligns you with subcontractors and allows them to perform better.

A resource management software like Float makes it easy to create a visual resource-loaded schedule. You can balance and build sustainable workloads by keeping track of each person's planned work, time off, and public holidays. You can also integrate with project management tools like Asana, Trello, Jira, and WorkflowMax to assign tasks by dragging and dropping them straight onto the schedule.

An example of a resource-loaded schedule in Float

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Load resources with accuracy using Float

Estimating the number of resources needed to complete a project (as well as their availability) leads to project delays and frustrated team members. Cut out the guesswork by using Float's resource planning tool to accurately predict how much capacity and time is needed to complete tasks.

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How do you calculate resource load?

To calculate resource load, divide the total hours for the task by the number of hours the team member has available.

For example, Task A requires a team member to work for 16 hours to complete it. As the person is only available for 8 hours a day, the resource load would be spread over two days, and the team member would be at 100% of their utilization rate.

How to create a resource loading chart

A resource loading chart serves as a visual representation of resource capacity and allocation. It makes it easier to see availability and adjust when resources are overloaded.

Project managers may use spreadsheets or applications like Microsoft Project and Primavera P6 to create resource loading charts. The process can vary depending on your project and business, but here are some basic steps:

  • Have a list of tasks that need to be completed
  • Include tasks in your spreadsheet along with their timelines
  • Be sure to set the order in which each task should be completed
  • Input names of resources
  • Assign tasks to your resources
  • Take note of overallocation and use the resource leveling option to make changes

Using Float to create a resource loading chart allows you to skip several manual steps. You can find the right person for the job by cross-referencing availability and skill set and assign a new task (or shift an existing task) to them.

You can also link tasks together or copy an existing task to someone new in a few clicks to keep up with changing project timelines and workloads.

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