Resource Requirements in Project Management: A Quick Guide


When a project is planned, a set of steps are outlined to deliver a product or service. Resource requirements need to be identified and allocated for those steps to be executed. Think of resource requirements as the fuel that drives all project activities.

Once one understands what resource requirements are in project management, next there is estimating what those resources will be and managing them. To help with this process, we’ll define resource requirements and link to a free resource plan template.

What Are Resource Requirements in Project Management?

Resources are anything you need to complete a project including teams, equipment, raw materials and so on. These are called the resource requirements. Being able to know ahead of initiating the project which resources you’ll need is essential.

Resource requirements in project management allow project managers to know what they’ll need to execute their tasks and deliver the project on time and within their budget. Knowing one’s resource requirements will also help project managers to get the most out of their resources.

This can be done more effectively with project management software. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that allocates and schedules project resources through multiple views. Managers can use our robust Gantt charts to schedule resources and their costs. The sheet view gives you a customizable grid to track individual project resources or a portfolio of projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's sheet view
ProjectManager’s sheet view lets you schedule and track resources. Learn more

How to Estimate & Manage Project Resource Requirements

Resource requirements differ from project to project, of course, but also on how productive your team can be and even project switching, which is as team members pass tasks to one another. There’s also the feedback loop as comments or changes come from stakeholders, clients, etc. That’s a lot of variables. The following steps will help you narrow the forecast to be as accurate as possible.

1. Define Your Project Scope

The first step is to understand the scope of your project. That is knowing the project’s goals, deadlines and deliverables. There are many ways to determine the scope of a project. Using the project teams to mine their knowledge of the work and historical data can also play a role in estimating the project scope. More time-consuming, but accurate, is a work breakdown structure, or a hierarchical tree diagram that helps you to identify the project deliverables and tasks.

2. Write a Scope of Work

The scope of work is a project document that defines all the work that’s done over the project’s life cycle. That includes the project deliverables, timeline, milestones, how reporting will be done and more. The importance of this step goes beyond estimating your project resource requirements and helps manage them to avoid scope creep, such as adding tasks to the project during its execution. A scope of work document will help you have a more accurate idea of the project and, in so doing, its resource requirements.

3. Make a Resource Breakdown Structure

Just as you use a work breakdown structure to identify deliverables, a resource breakdown structure can help you identify the project resource requirements. It’ll help you to identify resource types, such as people and tangible and intangible assets before the start of the project. This will not only help estimate your resource requirements but also help with scheduling and managing them, such as resource allocation.

4. Estimate the Costs Related to Your Project Resources

Resources aren’t just team members, raw materials, equipment and so forth. It’s also money. One must consider costs when estimating and managing project resource requirements. This means you must forecast the cost for each resource that will be used in your project. This will also inform your budget. Accurately forecasting the related costs for your project resources helps to save money without negatively affecting the project quality of your deliverables.

5. Create a Resource Schedule

Identify resource requirements for the project and allocate them on a timeline to create a resource schedule. To do this, you’ll need to know the availability of your team members and the start and end dates of their assigned tasks. This will make your project more efficient and save money by having the right resources allocated at the right time.

6. Create a Resource Management Plan

The next step is to develop a resource management plan that details the acquisition, development, usage, management, control and release of the project resources. This will provide a guide or roadmap for the project manager and project team to allocate, manage and control resources needed to complete the project as efficiently as possible.

7. Use Resource Tracking Tools

Anyone who’s made a resource management plan knows that there will be changes during execution. Therefore, a project manager must use resource-tracking tools to monitor and control resource requirements. Whatever resource tracking tool you use should provide a clear view of where and how those resources are being used. This will enhance the resource management plan and allocation of those resources as you can adjust to respond to changes in your project.

Types of Resource Requirements in Project Management

We’ve mentioned resource requirements and have briefly written about what project resources are, but to better understand them and their place in project management it’s important to define what we’ve been talking about. Below we list the main categories that make up resource requirements in project management and define each with examples.

  • Labor: These are the people who work on the project’s production and deliver its goods and services. They can be part-time or full-time employees and anyone on the project team with the various skills required to deliver the project.
  • Materials: This is what’s used to assemble the product or in the creation of whatever deliverables are being made in the project. Included in this category are supplies and other consumable items, such as wood, metal, glue, etc.
  • Equipment: Sometimes bunched together with materials in defining resource requirements, equipment is what machinery is used to complete the project on schedule. This can be tools or software and heavy machinery.
  • Property, Land or Infrastructure: This is another category that some fold into equipment, but deserves its distinct definition. Here we’re talking about the place where the work is happening or the underlying framework of features of a system or organization. That might be the job site on a construction project or roadways, sewers, railways and powerlines.
  • Cash/Funding: Lastly, are the financial resources that pay for the project. This includes the budget, funding sources and cost allocations.

Resource Requirements vs. Resource Constraints

Resource requirements, as noted above, are the people, materials and equipment necessary to complete the project. Resource constraints are factors that can limit the supply of those resources to the project. Therefore, resource requirements are what you want to complete the project and resource constraints are anything that might prevent that from happening.

Resource constraints are a kind of risk associated with the resources you have allocated to the project. It’s something you’ll have to factor in as you create your resource requirements plan. Some examples of a resource constraint include inadequate financial capital, unavailability of needed resources and a new deadline for completion of the project due to a request from the client.

Resource Plan Template

Identifying your resource requirements will inform your resource plan, which then lists and organizes those resources over the life cycle of your project. It also helps one determine the amount of resources and their cost.

ProjectManager's free resource plan template

Use our free resource plan template for Excel to schedule your resources. With it, you can list all your human resources, which department they work in, their total effort, rate and the cost of that resource for your project. There’s even a weekly calendar to schedule them.

More Free Resource Requirements Management Templates

The free resource plan template is only one of over 100 free project management templates for Excel and Word that you can download right now. They cover every aspect of managing a project across several industries. Here are a few that relate to resource requirements.

Work Breakdown Structure Template

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is essential in identifying all your resource requirements. Our free work breakdown structure template for Excel has two sheets. One is a WBS list that’s broken down into phases of the projects and the deliverables due, the other is a WBS tree diagram that visually shows the breakdown of the project deliverables from top to bottom.

Scope of Work Template

A scope of work document is also important when determining the resource requirements for a project. It includes deliverables, but also what’s in and out of scope for the project, a timeline, milestone and project costs.

Project Estimate Template

Another part of resource requirements is estimating their cost to the project. Our free project estimate template for Excel will help you make a more accurate forecast of those costs. With this free template, you can estimate labor costs, but also materials, for each phase in your project.

ProjectManager Helps You Manage Project Resource Requirements

While all of our free resource requirement templates can help you identify and plan your project resources, they’re not an efficient tool to manage and track them throughout the life cycle of your project. Templates are static documents that must be manually updated and are not great for collaboration. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that helps you track and allocate resources in real time.

Track Resource Utilization With Real-Time Dashboards

If you’re not monitoring your project resource requirements throughout the project, you’re in danger of going over budget or not having the resources you need when you need to allocate them. To optimize resource utilization, use our real-time dashboards, which track your costs, time, workload and more so you can catch issues and respond to them quickly to stay on schedule and keep to your budget.

ProjectManager's dashboard
Use Workload Charts to Allocate Resources Effectively

Teams are a project’s most valuable resource. Without a project team, no amount of raw materials, equipment, etc., will deliver your project. The ability to keep teams productive without eroding morale is critical to a successful project. First, you can set your team’s availability, such as vacation time, PTO and even global holidays for remote workers, which makes it easier to assign them to tasks. Then toggle over to the color-coded workload chart and balance their workload to keep them working at capacity.

ProjectManager's workload chart

Related Resource Management Content

Resource management is a topic much bigger than just resource requirements. If you’re interested in learning more about resources as they relate to project management our site is an online hub for that and much more. We publish weekly blogs, tutorial videos and, of course, free templates. Here are some of the pieces we’ve published on resource management.

ProjectManager is online project and portfolio management software that connects teams in the office, out in the field and anywhere in between. They can share files, comment at the task level and stay updated with email and in-app notifications. Join teams at Avis, Nestle and Siemens who are using our software to deliver successful projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.