Assignment of resources to project activities/ tasks

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Once you have estimated when and for how long each resource will be needed in the project you have to assign them to specific activities/ tasks of the project in order to complete the development of the Resource Plan.

When assigning resources to activities/ tasks you should take into account the following factors in order to build a more effective Resource Plan:

Availability of resources. The most important factor for deciding which resource will be assigned to what activity(ies)/ task(s) is the potential availability of the resources in the periods the corresponding activities/ tasks will take place. This is especially important for the internal resources and mainly for the human resources, since it’s rare for the employees of an Implementing Agency to be assigned only to one project from start to finish with no additional responsibilities outside the scope of a single project. For this reason you should ask the functional manager or the head of the unit, who is directly responsible for the management of the certain employee you want to assign to the project, about his/her planned engagements in other projects or activities of the Implementing Agency. Having examined his/her availability for the specific period and after receiving the relative approval from his/her superior you are able to assign him/her to one or more activities/ tasks. Do not forget that availability doesn’t refer solely to the resource start and end dates in the project, but it refers also to the amount of time that the resource is able to devote to the project, i.e. whether the resource is working part or full time on the project and whether his/her availability changes at any point.    

The availability of external resources is something that is examined and managed by the respective Project Manager of the contractor. What you have to do in this case, as a representative of the Implementing Agency, is to define the quality characteristics, quantities and required effort from these resources, as well as the time periods in which these resources will be engaged in the project and include them in the Terms of Reference and in the terms of the contract.

As general guidelines you should consider the following:

Be realistic about the availability of resources. Allowance should be made for official non-working days, holidays and time that people will spend on non-project activities.
Assign busier resources on tasks that cannot be performed by other resources.
Consider assigning additional resources on tasks in order to prevent or alleviate overallocation.
Use underallocated resources to help relieve the overallocated ones.
Plan for contingencies in order to be prepared for potential situations. For example “What if I don’t have 3 Visual Basic programmers in June?” or “What if my only environmental engineer quits or becomes disabled before his critical assignment to Environmental Impact Assessment Study task in mid-July?” These potential situations can be identified by a vigorous risk analysis, based on past experience and perceptive forecasting. You may not be able to forecast specific events, but you can note that the possibility exists. You can ask “What does it do to the schedule and what is the potential impact on my resource plan?” Even if you don’t have to take any actions at this time, you should be prepared to facilitate the specific resource solution when and if the potential need arises. For this reason alternative resources or/and skills should be identified and evaluated; outsourcing candidates should be contacted and evaluated; trigger dates for action decisions should be determined and auto alarms set up; potential scope adjustment options should be evaluated.
Cost of resources. Apart from being effective in terms of schedule, the Resource Plan should also be effective in terms of cost, since the cost of the resources has usually a great contribution to the overall cost of the project.

In this perspective you should try to:

Assign more expensive resources to tasks that cannot be performed by less expensive resources, so that you obtain the maximum return from the use of resource.
Assign less expensive resources to as many tasks as possible to keep the project within budget limitations, but without putting in danger the successful outcome of the task.


Capability of resources. The more familiar you are with resource capabilities, the more efficiently and effectively you can assign resources to tasks. Concerning the human resources you need to understand their background, experience, skills and capabilities. Concerning the equipment you have to be familiar with their operation, performance and maintenance. As far as materials are concerned you need to know their quality characteristics, their suitability for purpose and the rate of consumption. 

In this perspective you should try to:

Assign the most efficient resources to critical tasks, to ensure that your schedule does not slip.
Use the resources with the higher quality or the more effective resources on high-risk tasks or tasks that require the highest level of quality.

The tool provided in Annex 7-1/ Sheet “Resources vs. Activities”, apart from assigning resources to project activities/ tasks, it can be used also to assign any travelling that may be associated with the performance of the activities/ tasks. In this way, you will be able to monitor scheduled travelling per activity or task during the Execution & Control phase and keep track of the their contribution to the cost of each activity/ task by using the tool provided in Annex 7-1/ Sheet “Costs vs. Activities”.


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