Resource management is one of the most important aspects of project management. Project resources include the raw materials, equipment and human resources necessary to execute project tasks, all of which must be managed during any given project.
What Is Resource Management?
Resource management is the process of planning, scheduling and allocating resources to complete a project. Project managers are in charge of overseeing the resource management process from start to finish. To do so, they need to use resource management tools and techniques.
Resource management involves creating plans and processes to more effectively manage resources, and you can use spreadsheets, documents, project management software, or a combination of the three.
In order to manage resources, you must monitor and track their performance throughout your project. ProjectManager is work and project management software with real-time dashboards to help you monitor your project resources. There’s no setup required and we automatically collect six project metrics and display the data in colorful, intuitive graphs. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Resource Management Process
As stated above, resource management is an ongoing process that starts during the project planning phase and continues until project closure. This is known as the resource management life cycle, which is made up of four stages that project managers should understand to properly manage project resources.
- Resource Planning: Once you’ve defined your project scope, you need to estimate what resources are needed for each task. Don’t forget to count resources that might be needed to manage changes and implement risk management strategies.
- Resource Scheduling: Now that you have project resources at your disposal, you need to ensure those resources are readily available. To do so, you’ll need to simply align your resource schedule with your overall project schedule and have a solid supply chain in place.
- Resource Allocation: Resource allocation is an ongoing process that is simply defined as picking the right resources at the right time to achieve project tasks. For example, there are critical tasks that need to be prioritized when creating the resource schedule.
Related: Resource Planning Template
Resource Management Techniques
Project managers implement the following resource management techniques to forecast, plan, allocate, level and optimize resources during the execution of a project.
1. Resource Forecasting
Project managers must do their best at estimating what resources are needed for a project and how those resource requirements fit with the organization’s current plans. To do this, you must define your project scope to identify all project tasks and their required resources.
2. Resource Allocation
Resource allocation consists in evaluating available resources, capacity, resource schedule and the tasks that need to be completed to find the team members with the most relevant skills and make sure they have all the project resources they need when they need them.
3. Resource Leveling
The purpose of resource leveling is to assess your team members’ skills and find opportunities for better resource allocation. By thoroughly understanding what your team members can offer, you can assign tasks based on their abilities to maximize resource efficiency.
4. Resource Utilization
Careful resource planning is equally as important as resource tracking. Project managers need to keep track of resource utilization to spot any resources that aren’t being used efficiently. Then they can simply reallocate those resources or make changes to the resource management plan.
Resource Management Tools
These are the tools that project managers use to apply resource management techniques to plan and monitor project resources.
Resource Management Plan
Just like every other aspect of project management, when you’re scheduling your resources, you want to first start with a resource plan. This is the bedrock on which you’ll build your management process. Make a detailed list of all resources you think are needed to complete the project. The more detailed, the better.
As this is a plan, you’ll want to involve others in this process, as certain team members might require additional resources than what you expect. Be sure to include essential and non-essential personnel and equipment. It’s better to plan for items and not ultimately require them than have to scramble to, say, acquire an expensive piece of equipment at the last minute, and pay a premium price. Resource planning, in short, is financial planning.
Resources Breakdown Structure (RBS)
Now that you have a completed list of the resources needed to complete your project, you want to order them in some way. You can create hierarchies of resources, also known as Resources Breakdown Structure (or RBS), according to hiring organization (like a reporting structure or team hierarchy) or by geography (such as all the teams or equipment required in Asia or Africa).
These basic hierarchies should include personnel and preferably all resources on which the project funds will be spent, but it’s up to you to define which type of hierarchies are relevant to your project. Note that an RBS differs from a work breakdown structure in a typical project plan, which defines the tasks associated with core parts of a project.
Responsibility Assignment Matrix
With your resources listed and organized, you can begin to start defining resources that have various levels of responsibility for completing project tasks or the overall project. This is called a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (or RAM). Here’s where you can clarify the roles and responsibilities of the entire project.
You can break this down into who is responsible for doing what tasks, who owns that task, who can help if there are questions about the task and who needs to stay informed about the progress of this task. Many RAMs are simple charts with coded letters that define different functions of accountability, based on the RACI method. R stands for “Responsible,” A is “Accountable,” C is “Consulted” and I is “Informed.” You can do this by individual or role depending on the needs of the organization.
A resources histogram can be used to provide a visual of the resources for anyone in the project who needs to stay in the loop. It’s a quick and easy way to view the allocation of your resources and note whether any are over- or under-allocated. You can then deal with the overallocated resource quickly and reallocate as needed to someone whose workload is lighter. In some project management software tools, however, this is more than a simple view. This is a scheduling tool to re-allocate work based on availability or over-allocation or under-allocation.
Resource Management Key Terms
To better understand managing resources for projects and to learn how to develop an effective resource plan, we’ll first want to break down the different terms and processes that are often associated with resource management. Remember, resources can be human or non-human, like equipment or office space. It’s everything that has a cost required to complete the project.
Overallocation simply means when a person is given too much work. They can’t finish the work in the time you’ve scheduled or allocated for it to be completed. This can lead to overtime, which impacts the budget, or can block and even derail a project. It’s crucial that resources are balanced so you’re going to need a way to stay on top of your team’s workload throughout the life cycle of the project.
To see exactly how project management software can help you manage your resources, watch the short video below. Features like Gantt charts, workload calendars, timesheets and project reports combine to simplify your resource management experience. And when those features are online, then all of your data is in real time, so your resource updates are always fresh. Learn more:
Resource dependency refers to a theory that an organization should avoid putting all of its eggs in one team basket. That is, over-reliance on one team to accomplish core work, especially if it’s an external team, can lead to workload blocks and resource shortages. You want to plan against an unhealthy dependency on one team or one resource to accomplish the work.
You can mitigate this by distributing the work across multiple resources or having backup plans if planned equipment resources become unavailable. You also want to make sure your resources aren’t blocked by an over-dependence or over-reliance on one or more resources. If one team member has too many tasks and not enough time to get it done, they could be blocking other people’s work.
Remember that not every resource is only working on your project, they might have other work assigned to them. You need to be able to see across all their projects if you’re going to effectively manage resources which is where resource-leveling comes in handy.
How ProjectManager Helps with Resource Management
Resource management was developed to manage the resources in your project, which requires visibility into resource availability, workload and more. ProjectManager is work and project management software that gives you real-time data to make more insightful decisions when managing resources.
Plan Resources With Interactive Gantt Charts
Resources and costs can be scheduled with tasks on our Gantt chart project view. Once you set a baseline, you can also consult the planned versus actual progress of your overall project to get a head’s up if there’s a problem with resources. The progress bar tells you the progress being made on a specific task according to the planned effort. If you’re not meeting your baseline, reallocate your resources to stay on track.
Manage Workload and Keep Teams Productive
Your team is your most valuable resource. You can set up your team’s availability, their workdays, holidays and PTO for anywhere your team works. Once they start working, you don’t want to burn them out or leave them idle. Our color-coded workload page lets you see at a glance whether your team members are overallocated or under-allocated. A balanced workload leads to a more productive and happy team—and happier teams are more productive.
Track Your Resources With Real-Time Dashboards and Reports
You’ve planned your resource management, but as you execute the project, you have to monitor those resources. If you don’t keep an eye on how you’re using resources, you risk going over budget or missing deadlines. Our real-time dashboard automatically collects live data and displays it in colorful graphs that chart six project metrics. One click and you can generate reports that go deeper into the workload, time, costs and much more. All reports can be filtered and shared with stakeholders as you see fit.
Our software helps you plan, manage and report on project resources. You can allocate and track resource costs, see your team’s availability to make assignments and monitor everything with dashboards that act as instant status reports. Get everything you need to manage resources all in one place.
When you’re managing resources on a project, there are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and that process can get complicated and confusing. However, with the right online tool you’re able to plan, monitor and report on your resources with great control and accuracy. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software that gives you the tools you need to steer your project to successful completion. Try it for yourself.