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Guide to Workload Management

Workload management is the process of assigning tasks to employees and ensuring they have enough time to perform them. Using effective workload management practices allows team members to perform and reach the target goals on time.

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 find more in-depth descriptions, insights, and 6 clear steps to improve your workload management efforts.

What is workload management?

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 ensure projects are run more effectively, the workload management process was introduced.

Factors to consider

Instead of assigning tasks intuitively or randomly, effective workload management strategies ask managers to consider various aspects of the project and prepare a plan to schedule and divide tasks more sensibly. Factors like resource availability, task priorities, team member involvement in other projects, and due dates are major contributors to the workload planning process.

  • Resource availability is crucial for workload planning, considering the skills and expertise of team members.
  • Task priorities help allocate resources and ensure critical tasks receive the necessary attention.
  • Considering team members’ involvement in other projects prevents overloading and identifies scheduling constraints.
  • Due dates and deadlines are important considerations to manage workloads effectively and meet project objectives.
  • Workload planning optimizes resource utilization, maintains balance, and achieves project goals. Collaboration and communication are essential in the process.

Thus, managing team workload should be based on facts instead of presumptions.

team workload management
Source: Freepik

Who manages the workload?

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 must collaborate and share information on their projects and the need for resources (especially if they are shared). More important projects must take priority while the others wait for the resources to free up. By working together, the managers can create effective workload management strategies that utilize the resources in the best possible manner, optimize project schedules, and deliver the expected results.

This encompasses leveraging resource management software to comprehend the capacity and skills of employees, establishing realistic deadlines, promoting collaboration and communication, and consistently monitoring and adjusting workloads as required.

Looking to implement workload management techniques? Check out these tools.

Workload management – where to begin?

So you have a new project or 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.

1. Check the current capacity and workload

The 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 who 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 ensure that anything new you add to the team members’ plates is manageable.

Remember that using 100% of a person’s work time will 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 the time your team may need for additional tasks and plan with that in mind.

If you use workload management software 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.

2. Assign tasks by priorities and skills

After sorting out the team availability, you can start assigning tasks. Aim to assign the highest priority tasks first to ensure this is done right. This way, you will have the most available resources and can pick the right team member for the job.

When considering which team members should complete each task, consider their skill set and availability. Basing your decisions solely on availability may not be the best idea, especially with team members with varying 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 the assignments are sorted, show them to your team and ask for their input. They will help you find any inconsistencies and advise on setting priorities and managing workload.

Learn more about priority and backlog management.

3. Distinguish what can be good enough

When assigning tasks, you must also set estimations and deadlines for the team to follow. Here, it is important to know what level of performance you expect for each task. Ensure you know which project tasks require the extra step, which is going for a minimum viable product, and reflect this information in your set timeframe. You can reduce your team members’ workload significantly by setting accurate estimations for each task.

If you are working within 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 immediately. So ensure you know what is expected and give your team enough time to deliver.

workload management
Teamhood Workload View

4. Be ready to make changes and reassign

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 can spot such issues early and make the necessary changes to meet the project goals.

team workload management
Balancing work hours in Teamhood

5. Learn from the best and consider Agile

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 try to implement them throughout the rest of the team.

Sometimes, this might be a personal productivity system, a focus on asynchronous communication, or flexible work hours. When an entire team performs 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 focusing on prioritizing the most important work at all times and completing projects one task per team member at a time. This will allow your team to become part of the workload management efforts and create a quicker turnover of tasks.

6. Use workload management tools

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.

Workload Management Examples

To give you a better idea of how to manage and optimize the workload, let’s look at some workload management examples.

Example 1

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 to merge information from several boards into a singular workload. Making it easier to review and understand if the team members are stretched too thin.

timeline management

Example 2

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 several different teams simultaneously. In such a case, you must 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.

global workload management

Workload planning techniques

Workload planning techniques involve various approaches to manage and distribute tasks among team members effectively. One commonly used technique is prioritization, where tasks are ranked based on urgency and importance.

This allows teams to focus on high-priority tasks and allocate resources accordingly. Another technique is resource leveling, which balances workloads by adjusting task assignments and timelines to prevent overloading individuals or underutilizing resources. Additionally, capacity planning helps assess team members’ availability and skill sets to ensure tasks are allocated to the most suitable individuals.

Agile workload management techniques, such as Kanban boards or sprints, enable teams to visualize and adapt to changing workloads efficiently. With these main workload planning techniques, you can optimize productivity, enhance collaboration, and maintain a healthy work-life balance for all team members.

Workload management summary

Workload management is an important part of project management, which allows you to ensure 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 and productivity.

Teamhood for workload planning

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 the necessary information. As well as setting the custom availability of each team member.

You will also have the ability to track team members’ workload for several boards and projects. As well as an option to define on which workdays the team members are available and how many hours they work each day. Workload then highlights if any employee has too much on their plate, and you can see the available hours for the whole team.

workload resources

The team task boards are like a colorful canvas where your team’s creativity comes to life, making it a breeze to collaborate and stay on top of deadlines. You can easily track time spent on tasks and generate reports for better productivity insights. The integration with Office365 makes communication and file sharing seamless.

Project planning becomes a breeze with the Gantt chart maker and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Teamhood also offers knowledge management, so you can easily store and access important information. Additionally, you can track hourly rates and project costs to stay on top of finances. Teamhood is a simple yet powerful tool designed for your team to work smarter.

project management guide
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