Setting an IT budget is one thing, but how your resources are used can max out the strictest budgets in a snap. Not only do you have to stick to a budget, but you have to allocate your resources appropriately, as well. Have no fear. Resource allocation is here to the rescue!
Resource allocation is the practice of assigning and distributing resources to various areas, like departments and sub-departments. All departments should follow best practices for allocation, especially IT.
Information technology (IT) departments have critical responsibilities that impact security, consistency, and ultimately, the bottom line. Assigning too many (or too few) resources to projects can setback deadlines, frustrate clients, and expose companies to vulnerabilities.
In this article, you’re going to learn the ins and outs of allocation so that you can better serve your clients, employees, and long-term company health.
1. Estimate Your Project Times
IT departments are inundated with tasks. Some projects can take a few days to complete, while others may take weeks or even months. You need enough resources to power through from start to finish.
There are several things to consider when estimating time, like the number of employees needed, unforeseen events, and early deadlines. Give yourself enough time to complete the project, despite every obstacle possible.
Perform an analysis to reveal all the tasks needed to complete the project. You can also outsource certain tasks to pick up the pace, like 24/7 monitoring to identify, prevent, and stop cyberattacks.
Automated tools can automate such time-wasting tasks as help desk emails, file backups, and SQL queries.
2. Set Your Goals and Priorities
IT tasks are comprised of many working parts. Sort out these parts by priority, so the most urgent tasks get attention quickly. Estimate the times for each individual task, as well.
Make sure your priorities align with your project goals and monitor them every step of the way. Those goals should also align with the goals of other associated departments.
Since IT projects overlap with many other departments, all sides must stay on the same page. For example, an IT department may need to work closely with a product development team. Lack of communication between departments can delay launches, lead to quality issues, and increase security risks.
Aligning interdepartmental goals is a challenge, but more companies are switching to Agile project management models to mitigate these challenges.
Agile work models are extremely collaborative. Team members test projects every step of the way, provide consistent feedback, and apply changes as needed. IT project managers can better assess the direction of a project instead of being blindsided on launch day.
Agile tasks are typically shorter, which helps software engineers deliver software tasks quickly. Team members move on to the next task after receiving feedback on the previous task.
Agile project management is an asset for resource allocation. Furthermore, multiple departments can connect and collaborate through a single platform, saving considerable money and time.
3. Choose Your Resources
It’s time to swipe that company credit card!
Now that you’ve clarified your goals and work model, it’s time to purchase those much-needed resources.
First, think about which resources you can combine to save time, money, and desktop space.
For example, swap out multiple communication tools for just one project management app. These types of apps provide chat, audio, and video messaging. Project managers can also create separate groups for different projects, allowing team members to upload their progress as they go.
Since you work in IT, you have to purchase software coding environments, databases, servers, hardware testing software, and more resources. You can also save on these costs by outsourcing your tasks, like software testing.
4. Stay On Schedule
Estimating your time doesn’t mean you’re going to be on time. Your team needs some type of calendar or schedule to stay on task. Your project management app may also come with a calendar built-in.
Automate project deadline alerts to help team members stay on track. You can also do this through Google Calendar or any online meeting tool.
Make sure enough team members are scheduled for each task and plan for any future absences, vacations, and unforeseen illnesses. It doesn’t hurt to have some team members or IT interns on-call.
If you’re worried about staying on task, you may want to implement a more Agile-based work model.
5. Track your IT Budget
Tacking time and progress is a necessity, but don’t let your budget metrics slip through the cracks! Even Agile-based projects can go over budget from lack of oversight.
Use accounting software to log, track, and adjust your budget. If you’re working on a small project, you could manage your budget with Excel or Google Sheets; however, more specialized budget software can save more time, and time is money!
Break down your budget by daily, weekly, and monthly costs. If you’re consistently going over your daily budget, look for opportunities to consolidate and save resources. Of course, you don’t want to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks; be strategic with resource allocation.
One of the most important budget metrics to monitor is the notorious “return on investment,” more commonly known as ROI. This metric reveals whether or not your resource allocation strategy was successful.
The ROI formula is simple:
Subtract the total cost of your project’s resources from whatever profit earned from the project, for example, the sales from new software. Divide your resource costs by sales the number, and you have your ROI.
Many other metrics determine resource allocation success, like capacity utilization, revenue per team member, and cost variance.
Optimize Your Resource Allocation
Don’t let another budget issue run your IT projects off track. Remember these tips as you plan your next resource allocation strategy.
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