Who's Responsible for Resource Allocation in Agencies?

Lauri Eurén

In agency resource allocation, or project staffing, it's crucial to match project needs with the right team skills, while keeping an eye on schedules and client demands. In the early days, founders and partners manage resource allocation, but as companies grow, this task requires a broader team effort. Eventually, it involves a team effort where project managers plan, resource managers match skills with projects, HR supports the team, leaders set goals, and consultants voice their career needs and update their own schedules. Everyone plays a part to ensure projects run smoothly and everyone is where they should be.

Let's look at this more in detail.

Should Consultants Update Their Own Allocations?

There are loosely two major ways to run the process of resource allocation in an agency. In the first model, team leads and project managers are responsible for allocating consultants and keeping their plans up-to-date. However, we've seen that the second model, where the consultants themselves are primarily in charge of updating their own capacity forecast, is the best way to get the most accurate picture of the future workload with the least overhead. To get this right, there needs to be a clearly defined process for resource allocation:

  1. Handing over the allocation responsibility from sales & operations to consultants
  2. How often consultants should update their plans
  3. Are plans updated on a daily, weekly, or monthly level
  4. Where do we keep the plans up-to-date
  5. Why it's important in the first place

In order to get resource allocation to work, you should have ready answers for the four questions. When projects are still in the sales phase, it's the job of the bid or proposal team to plan the initial allocations. When projects get confirmed and the handover happens from sales to the actual projects teams, it's good to go over the plans and transfer the primary responsibility of updating allocations to the consultants themselves.

Then, it's the leadership's job to get the process ingrained in the company's culture. Optimally, everyone in the company updates their own schedules, and even brings in new leads and projects from clients!

Key Players in Resource Management

Overview of roles involved in resource management, highlighting their responsibilities and contributions.

Account & Project Managers

Account managers and project managers are the ones who are responsible for resource allocation on the account and project level. They can have a more nuanced view on what's happening in a single project.

  • Role in planning, forecasting, and allocating resources.
  • Ensuring projects are staffed appropriately to meet client needs and project objectives.
  • Keeping an eye on planned and actual hours spent to make sure velocity is right, and the project stays in budget

Resource Managers (or Staffing Coordinators)

Resource managers become handy when an agency grows past 50 or 100 people, depending on the complexity of the project portfolio and diversity of the skillset that's being allocated to projects. In larger agencies, there can be tens of people working only on placing the right people on the right projects.

  • Specialized focus on aligning team members with projects based on skills, availability, and development goals.
  • Making sure the team's capacity is used optimally so utilization stays up
  • Keeping an eye on the future demand of roles and skills at client to feed information for recruitment and sales

Read our complete article What is a Resource Manager? to know more.

Human Resources (HR)

The job of HR in resource allocation is to keep track of people's development plans, to make sure consultants are not overworked, but also to support in tougher situations, for example when staffing decisions lead to suboptimal outcomes.

  • Supporting employee engagement, career development, and satisfaction.
  • Supporting in conflict situations that might occur due to resource allocation not done optimally
  • Offer HR insights to the staffing team about what's going on with consultants

Leadership and Executives

The leadership in the company sets the tone for what resource allocation looks like. It's important to emphasize a people-first approach, where more than just the availability of the consultants play a role, although that's naturally the most important variable. It's also the executives' job to set the strategy in terms of offering development and recruitment. Optimally, this is always done together with the team, and not in an ivory tower.

  • Providing support and resources for effective resource management.
  • Setting the tone for people-first but efficient resource allocation and staffing practices
  • Defining the strategy for offering development, sales, and recruitment based on the insights from the team, e.g. a competency-based capacity forecast


There are different ways for consultants to take part in the resource allocation process. Optimally, everyone is in charge of updating theirs plans. It's hard for anyone else but the consultant to know better how to spend their time in the coming days and weeks.

  • Playing an active role in communicating availability, preferences, and development aspirations.
  • Updating their own allocations in the resource management system
  • Engaging in self-management and proactive participation in resource allocation discussions: e.g. rotation wishes, helping out with sales etc.


In the early days, the responsibility for resource allocation is on the founders. As agencies grow, the responsibility for this balance shifts from solely the founders to a collective effort involving project managers, resource managers, HR, leadership, and consultants themselves. The effective management of resources involves consultants actively updating their own schedules, guided by a clear process and supported by account and project managers, resource managers, and HR, to ensure optimal team utilization. Leadership plays a crucial role in embedding a people-first approach and strategic planning into the company culture, ensuring that people stay satisfied, and that the right decisions are made based on the resource allocation data.

Lauri Eurén

Lauri Eurén is the CEO & Founder of Operating - a former consulting professional with experience from hands-on consulting as well as leading an agency operation.


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