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Apr 27

Allocating Resources in Jira? HARD vs. SOFT allocation

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?

Jira resource allocation - soft, hard

Soft vs. hard resource allocation in Jira. What makes a resource? A professional, a machine or a conference room.

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:

Super hard allocation on Gantt chart

For critical resources, you might use these two. BigGantt/BigPicture screenshots.

Lock task Gantt chart

You could super hardly allocate a resource by locking a task on BigGantt/BigPicture Gantt chart. The “Lock” is very typically used when the project is dependent on a foreign resource, not own team.


Red coloring task Gantt chart BigGantt

Alternatively you could color the critical allocation.


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:


The good news

Sep 2021
Firstly, are story points hot or overrated? Story points extend the familiar time component with complexity and risks, for greater accuracy of estimations. They also add another “safety feature” – average velocity per sprint. Read more.

Sep 2021
Secondly, if organizations followed the principles of neoclassical capitalism, some professions could witness as much as 90% staff reduction. In real life though, the digital transformation of the workplace does not bring a drastic reduction in employment. Why is that?.

Aug 2021
Thirdly, is there an all-in-one app for Jira? Little visualization and missing “management umbrella” are Jira’s major drawbacks. How to supplement what Jira is missing most? Read more.



Soft allocation Gantt chart

In spite of the 8-hour estimation, the allocation stretches throughout the week. This is what agile teams like.

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.

About The Author

With his automotive background Marcin goes beyond the 'Jira + software development' standard. He likes simple, up-to-five-sentence answers to complex questions.