When it comes to planning a project, resource management is perhaps the trickiest part. You have to ensure your team isn't overworked or underutilized, all while ensuring each part of the project gets done and delivered on time. The life of a resource allocator isn’t easy. Luckily, there are tons of resources out there to make it easier.
Resource allocator templates
We all know the importance of resource allocation. If you're like many project managers who use Excel (or Google Docs) as their main project management tool, efficient allocation of resources is a top priority, but not always straightforward. Luckily for you, we've found the best resource planning templates out there to help make your job easier.
- A simple, free resource allocator
If you're just getting started in your role as a resource allocator, or are just concerned with how many hours each of your team is assigned per day, this template's a great option. The final result is a nice color-coded matrix of each team member and how many hours they've been assigned. It works by inputting each task, assigning it to a person, what the task is, which days it's meant to be worked on, and then how many hours per day it'll take your employee. Once you're done with data input, you're presented with a nice heatmap of how many hours each person has in a particular month plus each person's total assigned hours. You're able to cycle through the months with a handy date selector at the top. The one downside to this particular template is there's no way for you to automatically see weekends, so be aware of that limitation while putting in your team's tasks.
Personally, I’d recommend doing a more specific conditional formatting than what they have in the template to make it more efficient, but I'm also partial to bolder colors and specific hard caps to make it ridiculously easy for me to see who's over eight hours per day.
Pro tip: Once you're happy with exactly how the spreadsheet functions, you can save it as a template to easily create a spreadsheet from scratch each time you start a new month/project/etc. This way you have no chance of messing up previous projects' records when you're ready to start a new one.
- Calendar-based planner
This template is a great choice for a smaller team that may have different hour requirements (part-time vs. full-time); plus it allows for consideration of leave/PTO, holidays, and even weekends. Designed as a Gregorian month-based calendar, this resource allocation template gives you room to list each of your employees and what task they're working on each day. While it doesn't give you an idea of the specific number of hours each task might take, it's a fantastic way to see a month's worth of work at a glance. To reduce a little work on your side, share a blank version of this before you fill in any tasks so your team can fill in the days they're unavailable. Then, after the entire calendar is complete, share it again to gather feedback. The one caveat to this particular template is it’s not free, but depending on how long it would take you to create it yourself, it may be worth it.
Built into Excel
Microsoft's Excel software is the king of spreadsheets for a reason. Their library of available templates — both by their own team and from third parties — is extensive. Don't be fooled by what shows up just when you click on "New from Template," the search bar is your best friend here. For example:
With that in mind, here are three Excel project planning templates you can use to help plan your next project.
- Gantt chart
Project managers know the value of a Gantt chart. This template, aptly titled "Gantt project planner" is a great way to quickly make a basic Gantt chart. It also has some nifty features like automatically coloring blocks for both planned versus actual task durations. If you use this to plan a project and then compare how the project actually went, it's great. Just be aware it can't handle changing deadlines in the middle of the project without you doing some heavy lifting to change each dependent task's start date and duration.
- Project timeline with milestones
This template, titled “Project timeline,” is perfect for planning a project with both tasks and milestones. It even creates a dated overview to easily share your project plan in reports. You could also separate each task by each employee's portion to give a more detailed view of work in the context of the project's milestones.
- Agile roadmap
Most of us probably don't think of Excel as a great tool for the Agile methodology, but this “Agile roadmap” template sure tries to change our minds. It automatically creates "cards" for you based on the tasks you input and divvies them up by target deadline, with fields for activity, priority, and result. One potential issue for those of you who use Agile is the template doesn't support the drag-and-drop functionality most have come to expect from tools specifically designed for Agile.
More robust options
- Full project plans — including resource management (Direct link)
While their plans don't look the greatest, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers free templates with many features (including proper resource allocator tools) and even gives instructions on how to use each one. If you ever need help figuring out how to make a project plan, this is the place for you.
- When you need lots of choices (and they're all free!)
This site's name, TemplateLab, tells it all. It has a huge repository of templates on more than just resource planning, and the number of templates it has on just that topic is staggering. It even has versions for text-heavy project plans in Word. When you're not exactly sure which template would be best for your particular needs, this site has enough choices that you're sure to find the perfect one.
Now the biggest problem with all these templates is they're built into Excel or Word from your manual data entry and the end product is a nice, pretty plan. But what if things change mid-project? What if a deadline moves and you need to adjust your entire team's work allocations? The templates above are great in a pinch, but none of them can handle setting up dependencies; any change means you essentially have to do your work all over again, editing each line or cell.
Resource management doesn't have to be manual. Wrike Resource can help you efficiently assign your team to multiple projects and tasks and handle any incoming changes with ease. Learn more about it today!