All You Need to Know About Resource Smoothing in Project Management

If you are a project manager, you know how efficiently you can manage your resources to beat deadlines and achieve a project's success. Also, there are times when you find it challenging to accomplish what you aim to do.

The core learning: you can't possibly get plenty of resources all the time. You may have a shortage of time, having issues like budgetary difficulties, team members dropping from the loop, stakeholders shifting priorities, etc.

Your secret would lie in how smoothly you can align all the resources you've got and keep the workflow going. That's why resource smoothing in project management or resource optimization is a way you can follow to tackle this kind of hurdle.

What is Resource Smoothing

Resource smoothing is a resource optimization technique in which free and total float is used without affecting the critical path of a project.

 A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)

Resource smoothing is an integral part of resource management. It is the process where you allocate the available and needful resources to different parts of a project lifecycle.

The goal of resource smoothing is simple – lessen the hassle and difficulties, and optimize the available resources to use them to the fullest for project completion within the deadline.

Resource smoothing in project management is all about running a project with limited resources but keeping the deadline on par as well as not limiting the workforce. It could include new people to change the scope of a project or speed up things without hampering the critical path like deadlines.

As project planning and project management are dynamic tasks, resource smoothing is vital to tackling any demanding situation.

What is Float and Slack of Time?

“Float” and “slack” specifically define the amount of time that a task or activity can be delayed without impacting the overall schedule of your project.

You can use the terms Float and Slack interchangeably in project management. However, they possess a slightly different meaning in some cases.

There are two types of float –

a. Total Float (TF): The total time that an activity can be delayed without delaying the project's completion date.

b. Free Float (FF): The total time that an activity can be delayed without delaying the start of any of its dependent activities.

Therefore, ‘Slack' is a more general term and you can use it interchangeably with float. You can calculate Slack with the same formula to calculate float.

For example, a project manager might say, “We have some slack in the project timeline,” which indicates there is room for some delays without impacting the deadline of the project.

Benefits of Resource Smoothing in Project Management

It would help if you went for resource smoothing in critical moments in a project lifespan. It's one of the most effective strategies to overcome conflicting situations. Also, as a project manager, it would be helpful when you understand every aspect of this technique. Let's check out some of the major benefits of resource smoothing –

1. Optimize your resource utilization: resource smoothing ensures that your time and available resources are used to the full extent.

2. Minimize resource overload: You can identify and address resource overloads in the process of optimization. This helps you to reduce the risk of burnout, stress, and team member's decreased productivity.

3. Super-charged efficiency: When you smooth your project as per the schedule and align resources, team and individual efficiency will increase gradually.

4. Enhance flexibility and adaptability: Resource smoothing brings an adaptive quality to the project management process. It will let you respond to any call and demanding moment with the right measures.

5. Client satisfaction: When you become capable of urgent client needs, and meeting deadlines with a limited budget and resources, it will increase the goodwill of your team and overall client satisfaction.

When to Implement Resource Smoothing in a Project

When to Implement Resource Smoothing in a project

Planning based on real-time data and smart assumptions. But you can't be a fortune-teller, right? Sometimes, it's inevitable that you are going to have resource conflicts.

It is like issues in individuals or teams asking for conflicting requirements like personnel, funding, time, and equipment. Conflicts happen when you don't have many of these resources but needs are ever increasing amongst different teams.

If you practice resource smoothing in project management, this kind of conflicting situation can be manageable with ease.

For example, you are working on a game development project with a deadline of 12 months from now. After 6 months of work, the stakeholders want you to complete the project in 9 months. Somehow they managed to convince and provide a better reason to finish the project earlier than the pre-allocated time.

In this particular case, the deadline is the issue, and all you need to do is smooth your timing to manage the project and complete it within the next 3 months.

Resource Leveling vs Resource Smoothing – Are There Any Differences

Resource leveling is also a similar resource optimization technique in project management. However, they work with two different elements if you want to point out their difference.

Resource smoothing helps you to manage your project with time constraints. That means, that when you have to finish your project before the estimated deadline, resource smoothing is a way to manage the time and other available resources to complete the project.

On the other hand, resource leveling becomes crucial when you have limited resources and you must complete your project by optimizing the available elements like manpower, budget, and equipment.

Resource LevelingResource Smoothing
1. Resource-constrained scheduling1. Time-constrained scheduling
2. Needed when you have limited available resources to manage a project2. Needed when you have to meet a strict deadline with the available resource
3. Sometimes you may get an extended project deadline3. To speed things up, you may involve extra force like hiring an external team member
4. Overall project time may be extended than planned4. The overall cost of the project may increase than planned

3 Examples of Resource Smoothing in Project Management

Examples of Resource Smoothing

To understand it better, we've gathered some of the best examples of resource smoothing in different types of project management. Take a look –

Example 1.

Suppose, you have a team of developers. Several tasks of your projects depend on their work. If the initial schedule has a cluster of programming tasks occurring simultaneously, resource smoothing might involve redistributing these tasks to avoid overloading the development team during specific periods. This ensures a more even distribution of programming efforts over time.

Example 2.

Consider that your software development project needs input from a subject matter expert (SME) for a specific module. In such a case, resource smoothing can help you if the SME is only available at certain times. Tasks related to the SME's expertise could be scheduled to align with their availability. It will be helpful to prevent bottlenecks and delays caused by their unavailability.

Example 3.

Suppose, your project involves tasks that require specific skills, resource smoothing may include scheduling training sessions or skill development activities during periods of lower project activity. This ensures your team members acquire the necessary skills without interfering with critical project milestones.

How WP Project Manager Can Help to Optimize Your Resources

How WP Project Manager Can Help to Optimize Your Resources

Using a smart tool always streamlines your assets or resource management. If you are a WordPress user, WP Project Manager Pro can help you control your project with the following enhancements –

  • Organize your tasks and keep track of the progress
  • You can use Kanban, Gantt charts, and project calendars to monitor your resources and task progress
  • It comes with advanced time management features to meet your deadlines with ease
  • Assign team members with deadlines, and monitor their activities through reporting charts, in-app messaging, comments, and threads
  • Advanced reporting helps you to check how you are doing, and where to improve for further accomplishment

Using WP Project Manager is simple. You can just plug and play it to manage and optimize your project resources.

Kaji Enamul Islam
Written by

Kaji Enamul Islam

Enamul is an author of fiction, eCommerce, digital business, and WordPress. Addicted to stories, facts, movies, and books. Loves traveling to unusual places.

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