Resource allocation in product management is the process of distributing your available budget, materials, and workers to specific tasks or projects.
The concept is simple — you have a finite amount of resources, and you need to use them carefully. Think of it like the product management equivalent of working out a budget, but you include materials and working hours as well as money.
Product managers are responsible for resource allocation because they have the most visibility and control over product budgets, scope of work, and task management. However, these responsibilities may be split across several roles in larger organizations, or they may have dedicated resource management departments.
As much as we would love to see it, there’s never going to be a project with unlimited team members or a never-ending budget. That’s why resource allocation is so important, as it helps you to make the best possible product with the tools you have at your disposal.
Resource allocation allows you to get the maximum value out of the limited resources you have at your disposal. This fits in with agile methodologies because you’re streamlining what you need to make a great product and reducing waste.
Resource allocation helps you plan your project better by making you think about what tasks will need what resources before you start them. This can prevent overspending on resources you don’t need and also stops you from running short mid-way through a project.
Resource allocation also gives a better understanding of your talent pool. It makes you think more about each team member's skills and where they would be best utilized.
In July 2020, FlexJobs ran a joint study with Mental Health America and found 76% of employees reported that workplace stress affects their mental health. A large part of that stress is the feeling of being overworked, especially as deadlines approach.
Proper resource allocation helps you maintain productivity and prevent team burnout. You’ll be able to effectively oversee workloads by matching tasks up with a team member whose skills best fit. This means your team will be more invested in each task. It also means you’re getting the best work possible because they can bring their expertise to each task.
Resource allocation makes you really think about how you build a product. You start thinking only of each decision or idea's value to a product. If an idea doesn’t have value, it doesn’t make it into the product.
Not only is this an excellent way to build products efficiently and reduce waste, but it also means your customers are only getting value with the final product. There’s no feature bloat, just stuff your customers will actually use.
Determine your project's resource requirements - Review your product's development plans and identify resource dependencies. The further you can break down the product vision into specific tasks, the more accurately you can assign resources.
Confirm the availability of resources - Obviously, you can’t allocate resources if you don’t know what resources you have available. The availability of resources may fluctuate during development, say if a team member is out sick. However, having a close estimation of resource availability early on will help you effectively manage those fluctuations.
Include your team when assigning tasks - By involving your team in task assignments, you can ensure the right tasks go to the right people. This is especially important if you’re working with a new team and haven’t quite learned everyone’s skills.
Keep an eye on things as development continues - Things are bound to change during development. Make sure to monitor resource allocation and make adjustments if required.