This section describes a basic resource allocation process. The resource allocation process can be used to answer three key questions:
- What resources are required and how should they be distributed over time to best meet the long-term goals and objectives?
- What performance targets are achievable given available resources?
- How should resources be used in the short term to best support the goals and objectives?
The details of the process differ depending on what resources are being allocated to what investments, the timeframe and the particular circumstances faced by the organization.
A generic process is presented here as a framework for assessing the different allocation processes used by different organizations, as well as to help structure the discussion of issues related to resource allocation presented in subsequent sections of this chapter. The process is iterative; it is frequently necessary to walk through the process in order to establish a proposed allocation, review the proposed solution, and then revisit the assumptions made earlier, altogether resulting in a revised outcome.
In applying the prototypical process, it is important to consider that organizations typically have different resource allocation processes for allocating different resources over different time periods. The basic steps in the process are the same regardless of the specific context, but the details of how each step is performed may vary.
For example, in considering how to allocate resources over a period of 10 years or more, an organization might consider what funding is needed and how best to allocate funds across multiple investment categories while setting aside decisions about specific projects. In this case, the key resource being allocated is money, and the emphasis of the process will be on Step 1 – Establish Goals and Objectives and 3 – Quantify Targets. Further, in this case there may be less emphasis on Step 2 – Determine Constraints, and the prioritization performed in Step 5 may yield identification of high-level priorities rather than a prioritization of specific projects.
On the other hand, when considering how best to use staff resources and materials to perform maintenance work in the short term (less than one year), the organization would apply the process differently. In this case, the resources being allocated would include time and materials. The emphasis on the process will be on Step 2 – Determine Constraints, Step 5 – Prioritize Investments, and Step 7 – Finalize Allocation and Plans. In this case the specific allocation may not have a significant impact on the goals and objectives established in Step 1, and the prediction of future performance in Step 6 is less relevant than in the case of a longer-term allocation.
The practice examples in this section show how agencies have implemented this basic process to address different resource allocation challenges.