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If you are continually running into resource conflicts or overallocations on your projects, you might need to enlist a little trick called resource leveling.

There are several resource leveling techniques that you can turn to, depending on what kind of resource problem you're facing.

4 Resource Leveling Techniques

Here are four resource leveling techniques to test out next time you run into a resourcing problem.

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1. Critical Path Method

The critical path method, or CPM, is used for calculating the project’s minimum duration.

It’s a way to estimate the start dates (both early start and late start) and finish dates for the project’s activities without consideration of the resource limitations.

Keep in mind that these dates aren’t necessarily the project’s actual schedule, but rather a period during which the project’s activities could have a start date and end date.

The amount of time between the early and late start is called the “float.” This is the length of time a particular project activity can start after its early start date without impacting its late finish date.

The total float is the flexibility of any project schedule, and which allows for delays or extensions in the early start without having an effect on the finish date of the project.

For instance, say you want to build a website, and you have a specific launch date in mind. This resource-leveling technique will allow you to adjust the early and late start dates by altering activity durations, lead times, lag times, and forward and backward linkages.

There may also be other constraints to consider, such as public holidays, planned closedowns, and so on. It’s also important to note that the critical path technique must be used in a short duration timescale. It doesn’t help to look at it in weeks or months, but rather you need to view it in days and possibly even hours.

2. Critical Chain Method

This resource leveling technique adds duration buffers to the entire project by including dummy activity that helps to balance out the overall path.

Using the critical chain technique will help you reduce uncertainty and prevent problems that can stall the project, such as when a team member decides to leave or becomes unavailable.

3. Fast Tracking

Things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes projects must be rescheduled by shortening the project duration within its existing scope. One procedure that can be used in such emergencies is fast-tracking.

Fast-tracking is where the activities that are supposed to run consecutively are rescheduled to run parallel. Although this strategy is used often, it may not always work, and it may not even be possible to rework the schedule, in some cases.

4. Resource Crashing

Crashing is where extra work efforts and resources are added in order to meet the minimum time as calculated in the critical path method. This is another technique that can be used to speed up a project's timeline or regain lost time.

This might involve asking some team members to work weekends or overtime, adding some additional team members to the project, or outsourcing some of the project activities in an effort to get the work done on schedule (all of which will impact your budget).

Pro Tip:

It’s also important to keep an eye on approved changes as these may affect your project plan. You have to consider the effects any change will have on your project’s expenses, time, and other resource constraints before it’s approved.

Luckily, there are tons of different ways you can resolve conflicts, including through resource management methodologies and resource scheduling software tools such as the ones outlined below.

10 Helpful Tools for Resource Leveling

There are tons of tools and software designed to help make this process as easy and efficient as possible.

Listed below are a few of the best resource management software and tools to help boost your performance and productivity.

What's Next?

Want more ideas for efficiently resourcing your projects? Discuss this in Slack with 1000's of other digital project managers with DPM Membership!

By Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedpm.com. I've been in the industry for more than 20 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony. I'm a Certified Scrum Master, PRINCE2 Practitioner and productivity nut!