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What is resource scheduling?

One of Visual Planning’s primary concepts is resource scheduling. Resource scheduling refers to the set of actions and methodology used by organizations to efficiently assign the resources they have to jobs, tasks or projects they need to complete, and schedule start and end dates for each task or project based on resource availability. Depending on industry, resources can be people (either employees or independent contractors), equipment and machines (this is frequent for construction, manufacturing or maintenance businesses) or rooms and facilities. There may also be a need for consumable resources (for instance, materials and parts for manufacturing).

Resource scheduling is a key step of project management. When resource availability and work capacity are the primary factors that determine a project’s deadline, project managers sometimes speak of resource-constrained scheduling. But resource scheduling is also often used for simple operation management, as it allows managers to outline completion dates for tasks assigned to their teams, which they can report to stakeholders such as customers or a board of directors.

Steps in resource scheduling

Typical resource scheduling steps include:

  • Listing tasks or jobs that need to be completed along with an assumption of duration or effort, which can be expressed in hours, days, or percentage of occupation.
  • Identifying constraints for each job or task: it can be a deadline, a set of skills required to complete the task, a location where the resources need to be moved for the job, etc.
  • Identifying the types and number of resources needed to complete each task, i.e. the resource demand. The demand for each type of resource can be then expressed in hours or days for people, machines, etc. and in quantity if parts and materials are also needed.
  • Controlling the future availability of resources of each category (employees, equipment, rooms…). This is sometimes called capacity. If the resources are primarily people, this includes knowing how much work they typically do in a day, what their current and forecasted workload is, if there are any planned absences or time off, new hires, etc. The total availability for a period can be expressed in a number of day and hours. For consumables, this involves quantity in stock, shipping delays for just-in-time deliveries, etc.
  • Matching available resources with tasks or jobs, i.e. scheduling each resource to perform a specific task or job at a specific date, until all work is assigned. If a type of resource is in high demand and has a low capacity, this step may include delaying some jobs or projects as original deadlines cannot be met. For this reason, adequately forecasting the capacity vs. demand ratio allows managers to anticipate bottlenecks or low activity periods.

How can I schedule resources in Visual Planning?

In Visual Planning, a resource schedule will show which resource is assigned to which task. It lists the individual resources of a category (for instance, all employees, or all machines) and shows what each of those resources is assigned to do on a timeline that can be displayed at an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly scale. Individual work items such as tasks or jobs are called events in Visual Planning and shown as blocks of color on the schedule. Events can also be non-working to represent unavailability (vacations for employees, planned maintenance for equipment, etc.). If multiple types of resources are used, users can easily switch from one resource schedule view to another, or display several schedules at once. This is called multi-resource scheduling.

If you would like to learn more on resource scheduling techniques, feel free to review our scheduling blog or subscribe to the Scheduling Newsletter below. For more information on Visual Planning, check out our full list of features.

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