Skip to main content

Over the years, I’ve managed small and large-scale projects and encountered my fair share of bottlenecks, resourcing conflicts, and low productivity.

So, how do you resolve these common challenges? I’m sharing what I’ve learned about effective resource scheduling—when and how to schedule your resources, proven methods and tools for resource management, and tips to avoid common mistakes.

What Is Resource Scheduling?

Project resource scheduling is the process of identifying project requirements and available resources, assigning project tasks, setting priorities, monitoring resourcing effectiveness, and making adjustments to stay within the project scope and achieve expected goals. 

Why Is Resource Scheduling Important?

Effective resource scheduling is necessary to reduce risks, keep projects within scope, and achieve intended goals. 

Here are some of the benefits of resource scheduling: 

  • Optimal resource utilization: An effective resource scheduling process ensures you’re not overloading or underutilizing your resources.
  • Task prioritization: Resource scheduling helps you better prioritize project tasks and milestones based on urgency, increasing the chances of meeting project goals and project deadlines.
  • Conflict resolution: It also allows you to identify and resolve conflicts faster when they arise—and they will arise.  
  • Risk management: It helps reduce issues with availability and allocation, which in turn reduces unnecessary risks and delays.
  • Budget control: It helps you plan and allocate resources within the budget, allowing you to better track project costs and avoid unnecessary costs.
  • Improved communication: It also helps you clearly communicate with team members and stakeholders regarding their roles, responsibilities, and deadlines.  
Sign up to get weekly insights, tips, and other helpful content from digital project management experts.

Sign up to get weekly insights, tips, and other helpful content from digital project management experts.

  • Hidden
  • By submitting you agree to receive occasional emails and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. Protected by reCAPTCHA; Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When To Do Resource Scheduling

Resource scheduling isn't a one-time event. It follows the entire project from start to finish. 

  • During project planning: Resource scheduling should be done at the beginning of a project to identify resource requirements and availability and plan for when and how each resource can be optimized best to ensure smooth execution. 
  • Throughout project execution and monitoring: Once the project is well underway, regularly review and update your resource schedule on an ongoing process to make sure you’re using the right resources. You’ll need to accommodate scope changes, priorities, or changes to resource availability.
💡 Tip

💡 Tip

Resource scheduling should be done whenever new tasks are assigned or when resource availability or priorities change.


For example, if a team member leaves the department or company, their individual tasks will need to be reassigned, and the project schedule will need to be adjusted for the new team member’s availability.

How To Schedule Resources

These five key steps are crucial to effectively scheduling project resources.

5 steps to schedule resources
Here's a basic outline of the general process you'll follow as you're scheduling resources for your project.

1. Identify Project Requirements, Goals, & Constraints

Clearly define your project requirements, goals, and constraints. This helps you determine which resources you need, when, and where. 

This includes:

  • Defining project objectives and deliverables 
  • Understanding the scope of the project and desired outcomes
  • Identifying the specific tasks and activities required to achieve these objectives
  • Determining any budgetary or time constraints like seasonality related costs or employee vacations.
💡 Tip

💡 Tip

Involve all relevant stakeholders in this process to ensure everyone understands the project’s resource needs.


Remember, your team members and stakeholders typically have a greater understanding of what’s required to do their work effectively and efficiently.


By discussing planned resourcing with them before solidifying a resource plan, they can provide insights about potential bottlenecks or limitations that can reduce challenges down the road.

2. Determine Resource Demand & Availability

Once the project requirements have been identified, the next step is to forecast the demand for resources and assess their availability.

Analyzing workload and dependencies allows you to identify potential bottlenecks or resource conflicts and helps you make informed decisions as you’re allocating resources.

This analysis involves evaluating and estimating the workload required for each task and identifying the resources required and available to complete them. 

To forecast the demand for resources, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Determine the lengthiest path to execute a project successfully (i.e the critical path).
  • Estimate the amount of work and time required to complete the project. This is where a work breakdown structure (WBS) can help with estimating the time needed for each task, as it breaks work down into smaller chunks.
  • Identify which tasks can only be started once another task has been completed; these are called dependencies. Mapping out tasks using a Gantt chart can help you see things visually, identify dependencies, and make adjustments.

To assess the availability of resources, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Estimate the availability and capacity of your team members by comparing the time to complete tasks, and with the assignee’s available time throughout the project duration. The WBS, Gantt chart, and critical path will help when comparing and assessing resource availability. 
  • Identify any planned leaves, vacations, or potential conflicting resource commitments and build those into your project schedule to ensure they won’t negatively impact the critical path.
  • Identify any available external resources or equipment to bridge gaps. Be realistic and secure those resources ahead of time as a contingency. For example, you may need to hire an external consultant or bring in another internal resource if one of your project team members suddenly becomes sick or unavailable for any unforeseen reason.

3. Allocate Resources Using Software

This step involves allocating resources using software tools. Resource scheduling software provides a centralized platform for managing and allocating resources efficiently and allows you to visualize and track resource allocation, making it easier to identify and resolve any conflicts or imbalances.

When you're allocating resources, you'll need to do the following:

  • Assign resources based on their availability, skills, and expertise. Identify team capabilities before you assign tasks. If there are skill gaps, it may be necessary to bring in additional skills and knowledge for the project. 
  • Factor in dependencies or resource constraints. For example, if team members are already overworked, overallocated, or unavailable, you’ll need to either reduce their current workload or hire additional resources. Talk with team members in advance to ensure they can take on more work.
  • Document the resource allocation plan in a central project management system where all team members can access their schedule and see progress in relation to their tasks and the project as a whole.

4. Monitor Resource Schedules

Once all resources have been allocated, you should monitor resource schedules and have the team track their time throughout the project so you can keep an eye on resource utilization.

You’ll be able to proactively address any issues or conflicts that may arise and take corrective actions to keep the project on track.

Monitoring resource schedules involves:

  • Tracking actual utilization against the planned allocation and project progress
  • Identifying any deviations or discrepancies 
  • Assessing the impact of the schedule and changes to the schedule on project timelines and deliverables 
  • Communicating any changes or adjustments to the team members involved 

5. Adjust Resourcing As Needed

Resource scheduling is not a one-time activity. You’ll need to continuously adjust and optimize the schedule and resource allocation as new information becomes available to ensure optimal productivity and efficiency.  

Here are some reasons you might need to adjust your resource schedule:

  • Changes in project scope or priorities 
  • Unexpected delays, risks, or constraints 
  • New tasks or requirements that arise during the project 
  • Changes in resource availability or resource capacity 

Key Resource Scheduling Methods

Several methods and techniques are available for resource scheduling, depending on the complexity and nature of your projects. Some commonly used methods include:

  1. Resource-constrained scheduling: In this method, you schedule your resources based on their availability. This is useful when there isn’t a strict deadline for the project, and you can slot work into the team’s existing schedules.
  2. Time-constrained scheduling: This is used when there is a strict deadline for the project, but keep in mind that you may need to take on extra project costs. For example, you might add extra team members to your project in order to get it done on time (using extra budget).
  3. Critical path method (CPM): CPM helps you identify a project's critical path—the task sequence that determines its overall required duration. Map out all the necessary tasks on the critical path, then prioritize each one and identify any dependencies.
  4. Resource leveling: You can use resource leveling to balance the workload and avoid overallocation or underutilization. This involves rescheduling tasks according to availability. So instead of one developer working 16 hours for three days and then having no work for two days, say, you could level the schedule so they work eight hours per day for six days, extending the activity duration by one day. 
  5. Resource smoothing: Resource smoothing involves working with available resources and their existing capacity in order to complete the project without moving the deadline. This means using ‘float’ to your advantage—delaying some tasks until the last possible moment without affecting the critical path. 

Tools For Resource Scheduling

Resource scheduling tools make this process a lot easier—you can automate things like reminders and updating due dates, and you can review capacity without having to do any calculations. 

Here’s a shortlist of the best resource management software on the market at the moment:

Join Us For More Resource Scheduling Insights

Want to connect with other digital project managers to share resources and best practices? Join our membership community and get access to 100+ templates, samples, and examples, and connect with 100s of other digital project managers in Slack.

Moira Alexander
By Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is a recognized thought leader and the founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, a digital content marketing agency where she helps companies create, market, and lead with engaging digital content. With over 25 years of business, information technology, and project management experience, she's been named one of the top global female thought leaders and influencers on project management, SaaS, and the future of work.