How To Leverage Resource Leveling With Ease: 7 Key Steps

8 min read

Managing projects, balancing resources, and meeting deadlines can be challenging. That’s where “resource leveling” comes in handy.

It is a smart way to ensure your team’s work goes smoothly without any bottlenecks or problems. It’s a bit like a magic trick for project managers but not as tricky as it seems.

In this article, we’ll make resource leveling simple. We’ll give you seven easy steps to follow so that you can manage your resources like a pro. Let’s get started and make project management a breeze!

What is resource leveling?

Resource leveling is a fundamental concept in project management that revolves around the efficient allocation of resources to ensure a project runs smoothly throught resource optimization. Think of it as finding the right balance between available resources (like your team members, equipment, or materials, according to the resource breakdown structure) and project tasks to meet deadlines without overloading or underutilizing your resources.

At its core, resource leveling aims to eliminate resource conflicts and bottlenecks. These conflicts can occur when too many tasks require the same resource simultaneously or when resources are either overburdened with work or left with too little to do. Such imbalances can lead to delays, cost overruns, and frustrated team members. It involves reshuffling tasks, adjusting schedules, or adding or removing resources to ensure a more even distribution of workloads. The ultimate goal is to achieve a harmonious workflow throughout the project, allowing you to complete tasks on time and within budget.

Resource leveling is particularly crucial for projects with limited resources (also called – resource constraints), tight schedules, or complex dependencies between tasks. By smoothing out these resource-related challenges, project managers can enhance project efficiency, reduce stress, and increase the likelihood of delivering successful outcomes.

Now that we’ve explored what resource leveling entails, let’s dive into the distinctions between resource leveling and smoothing.

What is the difference between resource leveling and smoothing?

Resource leveling and resource smoothing are two closely related project management techniques that aim to optimize resource allocation. However, they differ in their approaches and the situations in which they are best applied. Let’s explore the distinctions between these two strategies:

Resource LevelingResource Smoothing
Primary ObjectiveBalance resource workloads to prevent conflicts and maintain consistency.Minimize resource peaks during specific periods while maintaining flexibility.
Task Sequence AdjustmentsAdjusts the sequence or timing of tasks to accommodate resource availability.Focuses on flexible task duration adjustments without changing task sequences.
Impact on Project DurationMay extend the project duration to prevent resource conflicts.May lead to a potentially shorter project duration by overlapping tasks.
ApplicabilityValuable when resources are scarce or specific resources are in high demand.Suited for projects with strict deadlines where speed is critical.
Risk MitigationReduces the risk of resource overload, burnout, and missed deadlines.Balances the need for speed with resource management, allowing manageable resource peaks.

Understanding the differences between resource leveling and smoothing is essential; now, let’s explore why resource leveling is a crucial practice in project management.

Why do you need to use resource leveling?

Here are several compelling reasons why you need to incorporate resource leveling into your project management practices:

  • Optimize resource utilization: It helps you make the most efficient use of your available resources and increase their productivity. It ensures that team members, equipment, and materials are allocated effectively, reducing the risk of resource shortages or overloads.
  • Minimize delays: By resolving resource planning conflicts and imbalances, resource leveling minimizes the chances of project delays. Tasks are scheduled in a way that accounts for resource availability, keeping your project on track and within the planned timeline.
  • Enhance predictability: It adds a layer of predictability to your projects. With a more even distribution of workloads, you can better estimate when tasks will be completed, making it easier to communicate timelines to stakeholders and clients (even during scope creep).
  • Reduce costs: It can help control project costs. You can keep your budget in check by preventing resource shortages that often lead to expensive rush orders or overtime payments.
  • Boost team morale: Overloaded team members can lead to burnout and decreased morale. Resource leveling ensures that work is distributed evenly among your team, creating a more manageable workload and a happier, more motivated workforce.
  • Manage complex projects: It is particularly valuable for projects with intricate task dependencies and limited resources. It allows you to navigate these complexities effectively, reducing the risk of bottlenecks and project setbacks.
  • Improve client satisfaction: Projects that run smoothly and meet deadlines tend to result in satisfied clients. Resource leveling contributes to project success, enhancing your reputation and building trust with your clients.
  • Adapt to changes: Itprovides the flexibility to accommodate changes in resource availability or project priorities while minimizing disruptions.

Now that we’ve established the importance of resource leveling, let’s illustrate its practical applications through real-world examples.

What are the examples of resource leveling?

Resource leveling is a versatile technique applied to various projects and industries. To better understand how it works in practice, let’s explore some real-world examples:

How to level resources in the construction project?

Imagine you’re managing the construction of a new office building. Your project includes foundation pouring, framing, electrical work, plumbing, and interior finishing. However, you have limited skilled labor available, and specific tasks require the same specialized workers. 

To level your resources, you might adjust the project schedule to ensure that only one critical task requiring the same skilled labor is in progress at any given time. This way, you prevent resource conflicts and maintain a steady construction pace.

How to level resources in the software development project?

In software development, an onsite and remote team of developers is working on multiple features for a new software release. Some of these features depend on others, while certain developers possess unique expertise. 

To level resources in this scenario, you might rearrange the feature development sequence, ensuring that tasks with high dependencies are worked on consecutively, and you assign developers with the required skills as efficiently as possible. This approach minimizes bottlenecks and optimizes resource usage.

How to level resources in the marketing campaign?

Suppose you’re managing a marketing campaign for a product launch involving content creation, social media management, email marketing, and design work. Different team members handle these tasks but also have other ongoing projects. 

To level resources here, you might adjust the campaign’s timeline, staggering tasks to accommodate team members’ availability. This ensures that no one is overwhelmed with simultaneous campaign activities and helps maintain the quality of your marketing materials.

How to level resources in the manufacturing project?

In manufacturing, you produce a complex product with multiple assembly stages. Some machinery is essential at various points in the production process, but it’s shared among several product lines. 

Resource leveling here involves scheduling production runs to avoid resource conflicts. For example, you might schedule the use of a critical machine for one product line during the morning shift and another during the afternoon shift to prevent overloading and keep production flowing smoothly.

After exploring practical examples of resource leveling, let’s dive into the key strategies that make it possible.

What are the main resource leveling strategies?

Resource leveling is a dynamic process, and there are several strategies that project managers can employ to achieve a balanced allocation of resources. These strategies help ensure that tasks are completed on schedule without overloading or underutilizing your team. Here are the main resource leveling strategies:

Task dependency adjustment: In this strategy, you examine the dependencies between project tasks by using the Gantt chart software. By adjusting the sequence or timing of dependent tasks, you can optimize resource usage. For example, if Task A depends on Task B and both require the same resource, you can schedule them sequentially to avoid resource conflicts.

Resource substitution: When a specific resource is in high demand or unavailable, resource substitution comes into play. This strategy involves replacing the unavailable resource with a suitable alternative. For instance, if a skilled electrician is unavailable, you might substitute them with another qualified electrician to keep the project on track.

Resource allocation by priority: Prioritizing tasks based on their importance and allocating resources accordingly is another effective strategy. Critical tasks directly impacting project milestones receive higher priority, ensuring that the most critical work is completed first.

Schedule compression: In cases where you must meet tight deadlines, schedule compression may be necessary. This strategy involves shortening task durations or overlapping tasks to complete the project faster. However, it should be used cautiously, as it may increase resource demands during certain periods.

Resource prioritization: Assigning priority levels to resources based on their criticality to the project allows you to allocate them strategically. Key resources are reserved for essential tasks, while less critical tasks are scheduled around their availability.

Resource adjustment through outsourcing or hiring: When faced with resource shortages (during capacity planning), you can consider outsourcing specific tasks or hiring temporary staff to fill the gaps. This approach ensures that you have the necessary resources when you need them without overburdening your existing team.

Resource load-leveling tools: Many resource management software tools like PPM Express offer resource load-leveling features. These tools automatically analyze resource allocation and dependencies, helping you efficiently identify and resolve resource conflicts.

Resource calendar management: Maintain detailed resource calendars to track team members’ availability, vacations, and other commitments. Use this information to schedule tasks when the right resources are available, reducing conflicts.

Continuous monitoring and adjustment: Resource leveling is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor your project’s progress and resource allocation to identify and address any new conflicts or imbalances that may arise during the project’s lifecycle.

Now that we’ve outlined the main resource leveling strategies, let’s move on to the actionable steps for effectively leveling resources in your projects.

How can you level resources? Just 7 simple steps

Resource leveling is crucial for ensuring a smooth and efficient project management process. By following these seven straightforward steps, you can effectively level your resources and keep your projects on track:

Step 1: Define project tasks and resource requirements

Start by thoroughly defining all project tasks and identifying the required resources. This includes human resources, equipment, materials, and any other necessary assets.

Step 2: Create a resource calendar

Establish a resource calendar that outlines the availability of your team members and key resources. Note holidays, vacations, and other commitments that may affect resource availability.

Step 3: Identify resource conflicts

Review your project schedule and resource assignments to identify any conflicts or overallocations. This could involve multiple tasks requiring the same resource simultaneously or resource shortages during critical project phases.

Step 4: Prioritize tasks

Prioritize project tasks based on their importance and impact on project milestones. Critical tasks should receive higher priority to ensure they are adequately resourced.

Step 5: Adjust task sequences

Modify the sequence or timing of project tasks to resolve resource conflicts. For example, reschedule dependent tasks to avoid overlapping resource demands, or stagger resource-intensive activities.

Step 6: Utilize resource-leveling tools

Leverage project management software tools that offer resource-leveling capabilities. These tools can automatically analyze your project’s resource allocation and suggest adjustments to balance workloads.

Step 7: Monitor and fine-tune

Continuously monitor your project’s progress and resource allocation. As new conflicts or imbalances arise, adjust to maintain a balanced resource allocation throughout the project and product’s lifecycle.

After learning the steps to level resources, let’s explore the tools that can assist you in achieving efficient resource management.

What are the resource leveling tools?

Resource leveling can be complex, especially in larger projects with multiple resources and dependencies. Fortunately, various resource-leveling tools and software solutions are available to help streamline and automate the process. 

These tools offer advanced features for managing resource allocation and ensuring project success. Here are some notable resource leveling tools:

  • PPM Express is a comprehensive project and portfolio management tool that excels in complex resource management. It offers advanced resource leveling capabilities, including automated resource allocation, workload balancing, and real-time visibility into resource utilization.
  • Microsoft Project is a popular project management tool that offers resource-leveling capabilities. It allows project managers to balance resource workloads and optimize schedules while considering task dependencies.
  • Smartsheet is a collaborative work management platform that includes resource management tools. It enables teams to schedule and allocate resources effectively, making resource leveling more accessible.
  • is a versatile work operating system that offers resource management features. It allows teams to visualize and optimize resource allocation, helping to balance workloads.

If you’re dealing with complex projects and need a robust resource leveling tool, consider giving PPM Express a try. PPM Express offers advanced features for resource management, including:

  • Automated resource allocation: Easily allocate resources to tasks and projects with automated resource assignment features.
  • Workload balancing: Ensure a balanced workload for your team members by optimizing resource allocation.
  • Real-time visibility: Gain real-time insights into resource utilization and project progress to make informed decisions.
  • Collaboration and reporting: Collaborate with your team and stakeholders, and generate comprehensive reports to track resource performance.

Take your resource management to the next level with PPM Express and experience the benefits of efficient and effective resource leveling for your projects. Your path to smoother project management starts here!

How To Leverage Resource Leveling With Ease: 7 Key Steps
Scroll to top