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Workload management is an important part of any project and it stands for the process of assigning tasks to employees and ensuring they have enough time to perform them.
Do it right and you will benefit from the efficiency and motivated employees, fail and your project will inevitably need help. So to make sure you know all about workload and workload management strategies, we have prepared this guide! Below you will the description, insights, and 6 clear steps to improve your efforts.
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The term workload management stands for the process of assigning tasks to employees and ensuring they have enough time to perform them.
Team workload management has always been a sensitive topic in the workplace – too much on your plate will leave you feeling overwhelmed and having too little to do can make you feel unimportant and lethargic. To solve such inconsistencies in teams and to make sure projects are run more effectively, the process of workload management was introduced.
Instead of assigning tasks intuitively or randomly, effective workload management strategies ask managers to consider various aspects of the project and to prepare a plan on how to schedule and divide tasks more sensibly. Factors like resource availability, task priorities, team member involvement in other projects, and due dates all play a major part in workload planning. Thus, managing team workload based on facts instead of presumptions.
In most companies, it is up to the team or project manager to oversee employee workload management. Since this process is part of a larger project management cycle, managers are the most natural candidates to do the job. Depending on the company, several managers can work together to handle workload planning or one person can be responsible for everything.
In both cases, all managers have to collaborate and share information on their projects and the need for resources (especially if those resources are shared). More important projects have to take priority, while the other ones wait for the resources to free up. By working together, the managers will be able to create effective workload management strategies that utilize the resources in the best possible manner, optimize project schedules, and deliver the expected results.
Looking to implement workload management techniques? Check out these tools.
So you have a new project, a new team, or simply want to improve your practices? The question you may be asking now is how to manage workload effectively. While each manager has their own preferred methods, here are 6 steps you should consider to create a winning workload management strategy.
The very first thing you should do when starting to manage a workload is check the current capacity and workload of your team or teams. Consult with other managers that share resources with you and get a clear understanding of how much your team can do and is already doing. This will allow you to plan confidently and be certain that anything new you add to the team members’ plates is manageable.
Remember, that using 100% of a person’s work time may not be realistic. This way, you leave no extra room for additional tasks and meetings, which depending on the role could take up to 20% of their time. Thus, consider how much time for additional tasks your team may need and plan with that in mind.
If you use workload management software or a project management solution like Teamhood, enter the team availability into the Workload view to make sure you have this information available at all times. Seeing how much free time each team member has, will make workload management a lot easier.
After sorting out the team availability you are ready to start assigning tasks. To make sure this is done right, aim to assign the highest priority tasks first. This way, you will have the most resources available to choose from and can pick the right team member for the job.
When you consider which team member should complete each task, look at their skill set as well as availability. Basing your decisions solely on availability may not be the best idea, especially with team members that have varying levels of experience and skills. Instead, try to pick a team member that can do the best job on each task while respecting their personal workloads. Hand out the most important tasks first and then, if needed, make compromises for the lower priority ones.
Once you think that the assignments are sorted, show them to your team and ask for their input. They will help you find any inconsistencies and give advice on how to set priorities and manage workload.
Learn more about priority and backlog management.
When assigning tasks, you will also have to set estimations and deadlines for the team to follow. Here, it is important to know what level of performance you expect for each task. Make sure you know which project tasks require the extra step, which is going for a minimum viable product, and reflect this information in the timeframe you set. You can reduce the workload of your team members significantly by setting accurate estimations for each task.
If you are working with an Agile mindset, estimations and expectations will be aimed at a minimum viable product and increasing value over time, while those working in a traditional project management atmosphere may strive for a perfect outcome right away. So make sure you know what is expected and give your team enough time to deliver.
Congratulations, you have just finished initial workload planning! Think the hard part is over? Well, it is quite the opposite. In the world of project management, things tend to change. A lot. And so will your workload. Therefore, the best attitude you can have is being ready to adapt so you can keep managing your workload effectively.
As the team starts working, it is your job as the project manager to monitor the workload and identify any issues. Maybe the initial estimations proved to be wrong, there have been some unexpected issues with completing the task, or the outside factors have changed. Either way, it is the project manager’s job to notice such things and react.
See which team members are performing well, and which are struggling, and reassign tasks to respect the project deadlines and your team member’s well-being. By keeping an eye on the workload you will be able to spot such issues early and make the necessary changes to meet the project goals.
After a while, you will start to notice that some team members can manage their workload a little better than others. These are your champions that need to be recognized and learned from. See what tools and strategies they use and make an effort to implement them throughout the rest of the team.
In some cases, this might be a personal productivity system, a focus on asynchronous communication, or flexible work hours. In the cases of an entire team performing better than other teams, they might be using an Agile project management approach to their task planning and execution.
If you are not opposed to finding new ways of organizing work, consider implementing Agile. It will allow you to have a more responsive process with a focus on prioritizing the most important work at all times and completing projects one task per team member at a time. Which will allow your team to become part of the workload management efforts and create a quicker turnover on tasks.
One last thing to improve your workload management experience is using workload planning tools to help track everything that is happening. With such a solution it is easier to see how much availability there is left in your team’s schedule, what is being done in other projects, and to make sure no one is overloaded.
To give you a better idea of how to manage and optimize the workload, let’s look at some workload management examples.
In the first case, let us say you are responsible for one team that is working on 1 or a couple of initiatives. In this case, you are not sharing the team members with other teams, but have to have a good sense of the different timelines and due dates for all initiatives.
To help you manage the workload, you should first create a timeline for all of your projects. Here, you would map the main tasks and the milestones which need to be reached. From there, you would start creating the workload based on the team skills, required effort, and set priorities.
For such cases, it is best to look for project management tools that can merge information from several boards into a singular workload. Making it easier to review and understand if the team members are stretched too thin.
For this next workload management example, let’s imagine you are part of a bigger organization and need to run a project with the assigned team. However, the team members are working on a couple of different teams at once. In such a case, you need to ensure both – that your project is delivered on time and that shared resources are available to your needs.
In this situation, look for tools that offer a global workload. Displaying the information from different workspaces and teams. While this can be done manually, having such an option, allows you to quickly check the availability of team members across all projects and then renegotiate which tasks are prioritized.
A project management solution like Teamhood is a great option as it offers workload planning as part of a larger tool. Here, you will not have to duplicate data to create your workload. Instead, you simply need to open the Workload view to see all of your team members and their assignments visualized on a timeline. You can filter this view by task boards, tags, and assignees to see just the information you need. As well as setting the custom availability of each team member.
Teamhood eases workload management by allowing you to enter individual availability for all team members and indicating when this daily or weekly availability is reached. The completed tasks are marked with a green checkmark for easier navigation and you can see dependencies between tasks, thus allowing you to understand the full picture better.
Any changes you make in the Workload view are immediately reflected on the team’s task board, creating a seamless project management experience for both you and your team.
Workload management is an important part of project management, which allows you to stay certain the project will be completed in time and for the team to stay productive. By taking care of your team’s workload and closely monitoring it throughout the project, you will greatly improve the chances of project success, utilize resources in the best possible manner, and boost team morale as well as productivity.