Resource Management Plan Examples, Management Process, and Techniques
When you first encounter resource management, it might seem like the younger sibling to project management. The two seems quite similar and yet somehow different. In reality, instead of being a younger sibling to project management, resource management is more of a Robin to project manager’s Batman. When done right, resource management supports project progress and will save the project manager a lot of time and energy.
Resource management plan examples
A resource management plan usually consists of the list of resources (human and non-human), a timeline, assignments and/or projects. The last two can be displayed as Gantt charts. Here are a few resource management plan examples:
A good resource management plan:
- Is accessible: All the resource managers, project managers, and project portfolio managers should be able to see and edit the same resource plan. Everyone that schedules resources, should be able to view the bookings that the other managers have made. That kind of resource management practice ensures transparency. Transparency prevents miscommunications, boosts employee engagement, and reduces communicative noise.
- Has all the information about all the resources: A good resource management plan isn’t merely a staff schedule, it has also information about the whereabouts of equipment, the bookings of rooms etc. In most cases, there is no need to have two or three different resource plans.
- Gathers information about every ongoing project: Every project manager should be able to schedule resources in the same resource management plan that others use.
- Gathers the information about the finished projects: Going back in history can be a necessity when estimating the scope for a new project or simply when estimating task duration.
- Is scalable: Time-traveling is a resource planning must. Your life is a lot easier if you can view your resource allocation per week, month, and year with few clicks.
- Is up-to-date: Resource management plan should be updated as often as needed. That can be in every few hours, once a day or weekly. And even better if up-to-date mean real-time updates and not updated spreadsheets.
- Is easy to grasp: Resource management is done to get an overview of resource allocation. It shouldn't be a whole process. You should be able to see who’s doing what with a glance.
Resource management process
There’s high-level resource management and detailed resource management. High-level resource management is done to get an overview of the resource allocation in the project portfolio. Detailed resource management is basically done to create a to-do list for the resources. One is for the managers, other is for the team.
Whether the resource management is high-level or detailed, the process usually still starts with a project proposal. That’s when a project manager or a resource manager books the resources to make sure that there are enough resources with the right skills to complete the project once the proposal is won.
Forecasting is usually done without much detail based on past experience and/or project history. Using drag and drop scheduling to draw some Gantt charts is enough since forecasting is done to notify other project managers and to make sure the right resources are available and it’s not about assigning resources with tasks. Forecasting can be done in a single project view to save time.
Leveling and shifting can be necessary when forecasting and later in the resource management process. The manager has to take into account both the time it should take to complete the task and the current utilization of the resource. If the resources don’t have any other tasks, scheduling is quite simple. However, if the resource is already allocated to another project(s), the conflict can be resolved with planning more time to complete the task (leveling) or by allocating the task to another resource with the same skill set (shifting).
Leveling and shifting should be done using the general resource view since you can edit the tasks of other projects and play around with different scenarios.
If the project is won, the manager can break the tasks into smaller units and specify what needs to be done or leave it as it is. This is also where the manager should add all the relevant documentation to the project in addition to the job code and project title. The phase of the project should be changed to won or active depending on the timeframe.
Once the project is active, the manager should keep an eye on task progress to make sure everything is going according to the goals or KPIs in the project plan. It’s important to remember that project resource planning is always an ongoing process and it’s not possible to avoid all resource conflicts. However, it is still possible to notice and solve resource conflicts before they actually happen using a resource management software.
If a task is behind schedule, and there are available resources with the right skill set, it’s possible to allocate additional resources to the task. On some occasions, the only solution is to plan more time for the task and leave any depending tasks on hold. It can happen with complex tasks since briefing the new resources might actually take more time than completing the task without any help.
To notice all the potential resource conflicts, it’s possible to use different views of your general resource plan with different groupings, filtering, timeframe, and coloring. Generating utilization charts and/or reports that indicate task progress are also helpful.
With a common resource pool, it’s important to have procedures that define how resources and projects should be prioritized and all the changes should be communicated. Sometimes leaving a note is enough, sometimes an email or a call is necessary, and sometimes things should be hashed out in a meeting. A communications plan is a must.
After a project is finished, its progress should be analyzed regardless of if it was on schedule or not. Only then the project can be archived to clean up the timeline.
Resource management techniques
Although the building blocks of a resource management plan are usually similar, there are many different resource management processes and techniques to build those plans. While it’s understandable that different organizations have different resource management processes, according to The 2017 Project and Portfolio Management Landscape report about a half of organizations were found to have numerous stand-alone practices within the organization.
When the resources are shared, the variety of tools and techniques can cause a ton of miscommunications, wasted time, and energy. While the obvious solution might be opting to a company-wide resource management tool and resource management technique, it’s definitely easier said than done.
On a higher level, we see that the resource management techniques that are used most often are:
- Project-based resource planning: That’s where projects are at the top of the project management food chain and resources are just means to an end. Project resource planning is often more about planning than optimization. It’s allocating resources to tasks not tasks to resources. It’s about staffing projects and not optimal resource utilization.
- Resource-based project planning: It’s resource planning for projects, so just like project-based resource planning but the other way around. The main thing is to keep resource utilization at an optimal level. Tasks are allocated to resources and projects are left on the background.
- Matrix planning: Matrix planning takes the best of both worlds and it’s the resource management process described earlier. It’s allocating tasks to resources while keeping an eye on the resource capacity and the project capacity. It’s making sure that the resources are allocated to maximize project efficiency but are still optimally utilized. It’s planning for one project and pivoting the resource plan to see how it all comes together.
Resource management practices to avoid
Although there isn’t a resource management process or technique that would suit every manager and organization, there are still practices to avoid.
- Scattered plans/No general resource management plan: If there’s a shared resource pool, general resource plan is a must. Without it, it’s almost impossible to notice resource conflicts in the project portfolio. A general resource management plan makes resource planning more transparent and provides the much-needed overview of who’s doing what and what is where.
- Using spreadsheets: Admitting spreadsheets are often the only viable option, when possible, resource management should be done with a proper resource management tool. The biggest cons of planning resources with spreadsheets are the lack of accessibility and the fact that spreadsheets aren’t collaborative. Spreadsheets are difficult to update both because of technical reasons (merging and unmerging cells) and because the updates must be confirmed by other managers. It isn’t effective and creates communication noise.
- Not analyzing the history: Forgetting a project as soon as it’s finished wastes a lot of information that can be used when planning resources for another project. All the changes made in the resource management plan along the way, the reallocations, and the actual time spent on tasks vs the time planned should be analyzed.