Overcoming a Lack of Project Resources


Resources are limited, but your ability to manage them to fulfill the needs of your project aren’t. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows how to deal with it. Part of our PM Challenges Video Series.

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

how to deal with a shortage of project resources


In Review – PM Challenges: Lack of Project Resources

The first thing to do when you notice your resources not covering what you planned for in your project is to identify the context, said Jennifer. Resources can be anything from materials to personnel, and the situation that brought you to the stretching 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 able to support, or your team hasn’t yet developed the skill set to use properly.
  • Higher Priority Projects: There might be another project that ends up combining 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, Jennifer said, 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, she noted, here she’s talking about more major shortages of resources.

What do you do to overcome a lack of project resources? Jennifer suggested a two-step process.

1. Identify the Situation and its Impact

Jennifer noted 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 what 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 facilitated 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 resource 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.

Pro-Tip: The best way to reduce the risk of not having enough resources to finish the project, is by making sure your resource management plan is as through 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.


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.com.


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