You don’t need to plan, or allocate, abundant resources, such as computer workstations, a cleaning lady or office chairs. You may need, however, to allocate scarcer resources, such as a conference room, a high-level architecture specialist or an excavator. What is Hard and Soft allocation and how to do resource allocation in Jira?
Synonymous to “Resource allocation”
To allocate a Resource ∼ resource management, to assign a resource, to balance both the resource availability and the project time.
What does it take in Jira to allocate resources?
The idea behind the resource allocation is to constantly know wheteher a resource, say a high level specialist, is under- or overallocated. You just don’t want to waste money on a highly rewarded employee. Unfortuately Jira doesn’t recognize a capacity of a resource. Then how the Atlassian flagship could possibly know whether your John Doe is over- or underallocated?
Another thing: as a project manager you need to be sure a critical resource is there; available on a certain date and time, so that a project completes in time.
In 90 per cent of cases, you need some extra app from Atlassian Marketplace for resource allocation. Since there are quite a few “Resource something” plugins visible after searching “resource” keyphrase on Marketplace, you might think they are obvious choices. A word of warning though: you usually need more than “a resource module” to allocate resources efficiently in Jira. This has to do with hard and soft allocation.
Hard resource Allocation in Jira
For critical, scarce, in-demand resources.
Examples: a senior expert, a piling machine, an astronomical observatory – resources that are “booked” weeks or months ahead.
Examples of the hard allocation:
- Mr Travis Smith, a senior architecture consultant, was allocated for 26-27.04.2018 to consult the new piece of software, currently under development.
- The astronomical observatory was booked for the Columbia University team for the week of 18-24 March 2018.
- The main lobby was allocated for a trade fair between 8 a.m and 7 p.m. on 1 May 2018.
Jira tools for the hard allocation:
- Gantt chart – more project-centric. Good for a project manager to be sure they have a resource available on a certain date.
- Resource module – more HR-centric. Good for an HR specialist to be sure the organization gets from the resource what they pay for. How to allocate a resource in BigPicture resource module
Super hard allocation on Gantt chart
For critical resources, you might use these two. BigGantt/BigPicture screenshots.
Soft allocation in Jira
With soft allocation, you don’t need to be overly precise.
Examples: most teams in typical organizations – while a delay is undesirable when a delay actually happens it rarely harms a project. A task can usually be postponed until next week.
Examples of Soft allocation:
- Mr. Alex Johnson, a Java developer (or better yet: the developers team), will take a look at the bug sometime in May 2018.
- Approximately 30 computers are needed for the team to complete a project within 3 months.
- A graphic designer will design a booklet anytime before 1 June 2018.
Jira tool for the soft allocation:
Do agile teams use hard allocation?
Agile teams avoid the hard allocation; instead, they prefer the soft allocation. What we realized during our training sessions is that agile teams love having a task evenly distributed throughout an entire sprint on the Gantt chart even if that task had been estimated to mere 8 man-hours.
Top-down planning vs. hard/soft allocation
With top-level, or general goals/tasks, soft allocation is preferred. The more “down” in the hierarchy and granular a task is, the more sound the hard allocation is.
How to practically allocate a machine, not a person in BigPicture?
Ideally with the so-called artificial resource – the feature will be available shortly in BigPicture. Artificial resource can be used for allocating skills, too.
It’s wise to have three separate tools for resource allocation: the actual resource module for the most granular, hard allocation, the Gantt chart for slightly less hard allocation and the roadmap for soft allocation. Pick a comprehensive, Jira-integrated project management app, that includes all the modules. One decent example is BigPicture. We compare the top resource management apps for Jira here.