Jira is an incredible tool. It gives you everything you need to manage projects of different sizes, industries, and complexity. But what always stands behind any project? It’s people. No project is accomplished without a team, that’s why when being a project manager it’s highly important to pay much attention to how you manage your human resources so that you can organize the workflow in the most effective way and get better results delivered on time. In this article, we’re going to have a close look at what resource planning is, figure out why it’s important, and learn how to manage your resources with the Jira solution.
What is resource planning?
Resource planning can be simply defined as the process of resource allocation in order to complete tasks with maximum efficiency. It lets project managers distribute tasks in the most optimized way and keep track of performance when work starts. In other words, it’s the planning process aimed at making the best use of resources depending on their capacity and availability.
In general, by resources, we can mean people or non-human stuff like materials, infrastructure, money, etc. In this article, we will primarily focus on people but all the main principles can be applied to resources of all types.
Why is resource planning important?
Wondering why resource planning is supposed to be so crucially important for the whole work process? Let’s have a look at its biggest values and you’ll get it yourself. Resource planning can help you:
Plan the project pipeline: Everyone wants to have more projects in the pipeline but not having enough resources for them can become a huge problem that causes missed deadlines and negatively impacts the work quality. A good resource plan will help you predict all resources needed for the upcoming projects, so you can say for sure whether you’re ready to take another project or not.
Forecast the resource excess and shortfall: In case you have too many resources unused, you will end up wasting time and money. On the other hand, if you have a lack of resources, you’ll probably miss deadlines and therefore dissatisfy your stakeholders or even might not be able to complete the project at all. So, whether you have an excess or a shortfall of resources with resource planning you can easily identify it and implement the right treatment to bridge the capacity and demand gap.
Minimize costs: A resource plan will help you optimize the usage of your resources and make sure that resource allocation was done properly based on skills and availability. And the more effectively you utilize your resources, the less cost you pay, right?
Deliver project on time and within budget: A resource plan will give you a hand in monitoring project performance by analyzing estimated vs. actual time spent. This way, you can keep your finger on the pulse and make fast changes to prevent troubles and hit deadlines.
Prevent burnout: If certain team members are in high demand, there is a big risk of excessive workload overwhelming your team. It leads to stress, even burndown, and eventually impacts team productivity and how well they do their work not to mention offboarding. So, if you want to keep your team happy and make your project successful, you absolutely need to pay more attention to how work is distributed among team members.
Get it all documented: In the situation when something goes wrong, you have all your planning history safe and sound in a single place that you can analyze to see what went wrong to prevent the same mistakes in the future.
3 stages of resource planning
No matter what tool is used to roll out the resource planning process, there is always the same 3-step scenario required to get started:
1 Define project scope and access resources
You have to understand your project scope and what resources are available for you from the get-go. List all tasks that need to be done, think of what skills and experience are required to complete each of them, and cross-reference your plan of work against available resources.
2 Allocate resources
After the project scope is set up and the resources available are clear, it’s the right moment to allocate resources to tasks and schedule work to do on the project roadmap.
3 Monitor resources
There is one more important stage you shouldn’t miss as resource management is not just about allocation and scheduling. The biggest part of this process is constant monitoring and assessment of how you’re progressing in order to make sure that everything goes by plan.
How to plan resources in Jira
Initially, Jira was designed as an issue tracker rather than as a resource planning tool, so you won’t find Jira resource management features out of the box. But it doesn’t mean that it’s an unavailable option for Jira users. Atlassian marketplace is full of powerful Jira plugins that will let you broaden its functionality and customize Jira according to your preferences. We’ve made research investigating different Jira plugins for resource management and are happy to share the list of the best of them below.
Planyway is the tool specially created to provide help with managing resources in Jira and became popular due to its simplicity. While Jira allows you to manage issues only in the board view, Planyway is able to visualize issues on the timeline to see the whole project planned ahead split by responsible members. With Planyway you can:
The only way to have a clear understanding of available resources is to view them and their workloads together on one page. Planyway does this job perfectly. Moreover, it lets you have a split-screen between the timeline and a Jira board which makes you see your planned scope of work and simply drag issues to the timeline view in order to assign tasks based on the resource availability you see there. Besides the planning stage which is made so easy now, you can also make use of the tool throughout the whole project for monitoring how the work is progressing and stages pass from one to another. In case any problems show up, you will identify them from first sight and can prevent the trouble upfront.
It often happens that one teammate can be assigned to several tasks and even projects at a time. In this situation, you have to take priorities into account when planning a project, and inform teammates about what work items have to be done first. Planyway offers two ways of visual prioritization: you can either just reorder cards on the timeline or make use of the priority labels.
Manage issues across projects
When you manage multiple projects, resource planning becomes even harder as you don’t see the full team workload across projects and have to switch between tabs all the time. With Planyway you can connect projects you need and see their issues on a single page. Another perk is the ability to switch project boards without closing the Planyway timeline, so you can plan the workload for multiple projects all in the same tab.
Track time you spend
In order to understand whether you’re meeting your time estimations or not and analyze how productive your team is, there is a handy time tracking feature. Planyway grants you a separate time tracking mode to record time spent on tasks in the calendar or list view. All you need to do is just choose the issue you’re referring to and set the time. You can record time manually or make use of the automatic timer. If needed, you can leave notes to explain what exactly you did. A manager can view all time entries created during a specific period or filter them by team members.
It’s also possible to view the estimated time vs. the actual one right on the timeline view. In case you exceed the estimation, the issue will be highlighted.
Tempo Planner is another solution made up for resource management. Apart from planning the workload with Jira issues, it also makes it possible to set up capacity for each teammate, assign different roles, plan vacations and manage not just individuals but teams.
Tempo has another solution for time tracking — Tempo Timesheet which makes a perfect match with the Tempo Planner allowing you to combine planning and calculating actual efforts. With Tempo you also can:
Add roles and workload schemes
Instead of just having all team members with the Member role, you may infuse the other positions such as Developer, Project Manager, Designer, etc. Some roles are already existing but you can easily create any role you wish from scratch. Roles will help you set the default capacity, working hours, etc. for different positions. Another advantage is that you can filter data by role when viewing the dashboard. Worklog schemes are another way to address different working hour requirements that helps you set up the capacity for teammates.
Tempo lets you unite Jira users that work together into teams. Each team has a team lead responsible for allocating work to their team members, balancing the workload, and approving plans. At first sight, it’s just one more hierarchy level but it makes a manager’s job much easier and less time-consuming.
Plan your own time
Even though planning is usually the job of a manager or a team lead, the Tempo resource planner lets you make a plan of your own. You may add vacations, time off, recurring meetings, and other personal to-dos that won’t interfere with your work planning but let your manager know your availability.
Tempo reports will assist you in gathering the data you need in simple yet informative dashboards. It may include planned, actual time, or their comparison for yourself, other teammates, or even teams and departments. Filters applied will show only what you want to see and help you export required data in a click.
BigGantt is the solution primarily created for building Gantt Charts based on Jira boards. But thankfully the BigGantt developers made it possible to plan out capacity there as well. With BigGantt you can:
See capacity along with the Gantt plan
BigGantt visualizes the hierarchy of Jira issues with customized informative columns, the Gantt chart, and the capacity schedule altogether. This is a really nice option, as when you schedule issues for teammates you can always check the person's capacity at the same place and make the right decision. The capacity view also gives you the full picture across the whole team so you can easily balance the workload.
Get colorful indicators
It’s much easier to identify colors than numbers, right? This is exactly why BigGantt uses color indicators to show how busy a person is: red stands for overbooking, orange - shows 75-100% of total capacity, and green - when it’s less than 75%.
Check the progress bar
As soon as BigGantt includes the time tracking feature, there is also the possibility to view the progress bar along with other columns. This way you can see how much time is already spent from the estimated time.
The Activity timeline plugin will help you visualize project resource planning to easily see who is doing what and when on one screen and keep an eye on all tasks currently in progress. With Activity timeline you can:
Display workload and availability
Workload indicator serves to show total hours allocated to team members based on the remaining estimate of scheduled Jira issues while availability indicator shows hours that are still available.
Use colors to indicate workload
As well as BigGantt, Activity Timeline makes use of colors to indicate different workloads but with more variations from nothing scheduled to underloaded, slightly loaded, overloaded, and days off.
Build various reports
The beauty of the Activity timeline is the variety of reports you get there. There you’ll find three types of reports: planning reports, timesheets, and tracking reports. All of them can help you analyze your workflow from different angles.
Team Board is another plugin to provide you with an inclusive picture of the team members, their tasks along with logged and scheduled time. The app includes the possibility to manage resources across projects as well as make time records. With Team Board you can:
The plugin allows you to group individuals into teams, departments, roles, or other formats that suit your workflow. So, the resource timeline can be divided by team members or by groups you create.
Combine scheduled work and capacity
Team Board has the option to view planned issues together with daily capacity on a single timeline which is super useful as you get an immediate understanding of how balanced your workload is.
View logged time vs scheduled
As well as its competitors Time Board lets you view the report which is pretty simple but at the same time straightforward. You can see logged time, scheduled time, and logged time vs scheduled time graphs with selected date range.
To sum up
If you want your project to be successful, pay attention to the way you manage your team and coordinate the work process. If you over-resource your project, you’ll waste time and money. But if you under-resource, you’ll end up with a bunch of burned-out team members and a failed project. But careful resource planning in Jira will help you find that perfect balance. Get started with one of the resource planning tools described above and be ready for big changes!