Overcoming a Lack of Project Resources


Resources are limited, but your ability to manage them to fulfill the needs of your project isn’t. One of the many challenges that face project managers is how to guide their project to a successful end without enough resources. The good news: there are ways you can take the resources you have and make them work in your project. The better news: we’ll tell you how to do it.

PM Challenges: Lack of Project Resources

The first thing to do when you notice your resources aren’t covering what you planned for in your project is to identify the context. Resources can be anything from materials to personnel, and the situation that brought you to stretch your resources to the breaking point can have many causes.

  • New Technology: You might be working on a software program that is more advanced than your ability to support or your team hasn’t yet developed the skill set to use it properly.
  • Higher Priority Projects: There might be another project that ends up combined with yours and some of your resources are pulled from your work to another.
  • Unforeseen Events: You can prepare for risks and plan for uncertainty, but people get sick, take unplanned time off, and non-human resources can suddenly have supply issues.
  • Poor Planning: Sometimes it’s as simple as a lack of planning, which is why planning thoroughly before executing a project is so important.

When the issue is minor, you can apply a quick fix by looking at your project plan and task lists and seeing if there is any moving around that will open more time. But here we’re talking about more major shortages of resources.

What do you do to overcome a lack of project resources? We suggest a two-step process to help your resource management.

Related: Best Resource Management Software

1. Identify the Situation and its Impact

Some of the possible causes for the lack of resources. Once you’ve determined why then the next part is to figure out what the impact on the project is. Without that knowledge, it’s impossible to resolve the issue.

2. Leverage Your Change Control Board

While it might seem like this is a problem you alone should address, it’s not. You want to employ the help of the change control board. First, relay the situation and the impact to your cost, time, scope and quality. Then provide several options you have to resolve it, and listen to their recommendations. After a course of action has been decided upon, help facilitate that decision, and over the course of resolving it adjust as needed.

Even with the help of the change control board, you might not be able to adjust to meet the need for more resources. At that point, it’s their decision to allocate more resources and allow you to re-baseline the project.

Monitoring Project Resources

In order to avoid a resource shortage, it’s essential that you monitor your project resources throughout the project. There are several ways to do this in your project management or resource tracking software. You can:

  • Track resource availability
  • Manage workload allocation to track hour-by-hour availability
  • View project schedules to monitor task progress
  • Monitor resource productivity on your project dashboards.

You’ll be better off if your project management software has all these resource monitoring capabilities. That way, you’re not burdened by data transfers between two systems, and you can track availability and performance in real time.

ProjectManager, for instance, has real-time dashboards that show you exactly how your resources are performing at a high level. Plus, you can track other key metrics at the same time. Want to dig deeper? Create one-click workload reports or check our workload chart. No project management software does more for resource management than ProjectManager. Try it free today.

ProjectManager's dashboard
Track your resources, tasks, costs and more in real time with ProjectManager. Learn more

Make a Good Resource Plan

The best way to reduce the risk of not having enough resources to finish the project is by making sure your resource planning is as thorough as possible. To start, you want to thoroughly list the resources you’ll need, estimate how many of each you’ll need and schedule them to meet your deadline. That means all the people, equipment and materials that are necessary to complete the project.

Related:Resource Planning Template

Following that list is a schedule. This is the timeframe in which the resources are needed to get the project done. You’ll want to figure out the duration you’ll need each of your resources to understand their impact on the schedule.

Your need for a particular resource can change dramatically from day to day; therefore, you want to address the quantity issue. For example, how many times a day or week or month do you need that resource? This will help you squeeze every bit of use out of those limited resources.

Finally, you need to identify the assumptions and constraints related to your resources. An assumption if what you believe to be true, and constraints are the schedule, cost and cost of the project. A strong resource management plan won’t change the amount of your resources, but it will extend their use to fulfill the requirements of the project.

How ProjectManager Helps with Resource Management

Having a resource management plan is important, but so is having a project management software that has all the features you’ll need to implement it. You schedule is only as good as your ability to track it. ProjectManager is cloud-based project management software that gives you the real-time data to accurately track the progress of your project and resource use.

For the resource of your team, you can track their hourly and daily availability. Holidays and vacation days are also noted, whether they’re local or international, which is a great feature for projects with distributed teams. You can use our resource management tool to monitor and manage your team’s workload as well.

This way if one of your team is overtasked and others are not working, you can quickly adjust the workload. This not only is fair and prevents burnout, but it is a more efficient and effective way to manage your resources.

ProjectManager's workload chart
ProjectManager’s resource management tool makes resource tracking simple Learn more

Learn More About Overcoming a Lack of Project Resources

You can never know enough about managing your resources. Good project managers don’t allow themselves to fall into complacency. Watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, who taps her expertise in project management to guide you through a short training video that helps you extend your resources and meet project expectations.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

how to deal with a shortage of project resources


Welcome to the PM Challenges Series. Today, we’re specifically talking about overcoming a lack of project resources. But first of all, some people ask, or they wonder how did I even get here? What situation am I in that I am even have a lack of resources?

Well, I think it’s really important to identify the situation you’re in, because there are different reasons of how you got there, and approaches of how you overcome it based on the situation.

So first of all, let’s consider that with new, specifically, emerging technologies, sometimes it’s hard to find resources who know how to program, or support that technology. So sometimes it’s hard to find them, and even if you do, they come at a premium cost.

Another situation could be that in your organization, a higher priority project comes on board, and then all of a sudden, some of your key resources are pulled off the project.

Also, unforeseen events. So sometimes, we think of maybe natural disasters. Sometimes people have projects where maybe they have union labor, so if there’s a strike that may impact the resources.

Also, I know one instance that I had once, there was a guy on my team who was an organ donor for his sister. So they had been waiting years for this to happen, and then all of a sudden in the middle and critical moment of a project, he was called up for the donor process. So he was pulled out for significant amount of time, so we had to fill his position.

And then also, there’s just the flat out poor for lack of planning. So when these situations happen, of course, there’s an impact to the project. So you know, projects are, the components of the project are the cost, the time, the scope, and the quality. So you have to assess how this situation impacts your project. So let’s look at a few ways that you can overcome these situations.

So first of all, if it’s a minor lack of resources, you can look at your project plan, and your task and see is there someone maybe who has some slight time that maybe could fill in for another? Or maybe, you know, there’s something that you can rearrange that’s minor. But these, I believe, are more specific lack of resources that we’re talking about here on this whiteboard session.

So first of all, identify the situation you’re in, and the impact. And then, leverage your change control board. Sometimes, some project managers try to fix this problem on their own, and it’s really the decision of the change control board of how to handle. So how do we do this? You present your case.

So once you find this situation and the impact, you wanna specifically identify the situation and how it impacts your cost, the time, the scope, and the quality of your project. And then identify our position several options for the change control board to consider.

And then make your own recommendation, doesn’t mean that they have to take it, but it does let them know that you’ve done your homework, and your research of the situation so that you can give them an idea of which path that you recommend.

And then facilitate the decision with the change control board. And when they get guidance, they may have you, for instance if it’s an emerging technology, they may have you go procure or find additional resources for the team that may add more cost so they can approve it.

If not , they may decide, “Well, you know, we’re having a hard time finding those resources,” so they will be the ones to maybe approve an extension or delay in your timeline. Or maybe they may decide, well, they may take out some of the scope of the project.

So they are the ones who can ultimately make those decisions and give you the approvals so that you can re-baseline your project. And then, so you go back, and once the decision has been made, you adjust accordingly.

So for sure, if you need a tool that can help you overcome your lack of resources, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.

(This post was updated December 2019)