We give project managers a few tips on resource planning. How not doing it, or doing it ineffectively can negatively impact your projects. As well as what needs to be included in a resource plan, with plenty of examples. Plus, what kind of resource planning software features will ease the whole project management process.
Resource planning is a surefire way to “win” at project management. Not only does it help you pin down the right resources for the right tasks and projects, but it can also help you deliver your work on time.
Plus, the outcome of ignoring or taking resource planning lightly can lead to numerous problems.
If you’re just scheduling tasks without any thought of how it will affect your team, you’re creating conditions not conducive to successful project management. And we’re certain you don’t want a team that feels undervalued and overworked to be working on a project that is behind schedule and over budget. That’s why you’re reading this article on how to combat it.
But just what is included in a resource plan?
Resource planning is the process in which tasks are allocated to resources. Its goal is to maximize resource efficiency. While providing an overview of resources’ availability and capacity.
A good template for a resource plan should include:
When you take on the task of creating a resource plan – you’re really aiming to optimizing how your resources are used. And a solid plan will help you run your project management with better efficiency. Not to mention, allowing you to do more with less.
If you’re a project manager and you aren’t planning resources, there’s definitely a few things you’re overlooking. And these may spell disaster for your projects. Up next we’ll provide you with some examples of how poor resource planning may undermine your efficiency. As well as how to prevent it from spiraling out of control.
But luckily we got you covered with a few of the basics and a resource plan template to get you started.
A resource plan has a lot to do with matching the right tasks with the right resource. This means filling specific roles with the ideal candidate. In a way, this action will allow you to create your literal dream team.
So start by laying out everything you got. All the “whos” on your team as well as the “whats” – if you’ve got equipment and machinery to add to the mix. Once you have a resource overview, it’s a lot easier to schedule when the time comes.
Not every resource will be the right match. And if you have a huge resource pool all the choices can get overwhelming. So to prevent analysis paralysis, find a way to limit your options. Most software have different filtering options, so you can pick the criteria
Imagine the feeling of relief you get when you consistently hit all your deadlines and milestones. It’s such a warm and fuzzy feeling. And so satisfying to go through and check off task after task to reach your final goal.
This is achievable!
Sit down and start developing a strategic project schedule. Go through over the main goals you want to achieve, the time frame, and how you propose to meet those goals. As well as including as many details as you can about the project – locations, necessary certifications, budgets, etc. Then create a mockup for your plan within your desired timeline and see if you have the resources and capacity to complete it. And if not, make adjustments or seek to bring in some outside help.
It’s important to remember that plans can change, we just need to ready and willing to make adjustments too.
This makes it simple and fast to schedule and reschedule tasks when the plans need to change. The feature makes the whole process as easy as its name conveys. Simply click drag and drop to create a new task. Or pick up an existing task and reallocate it to a different resource. Learn more about the pros and cons of scheduling this way – but if you see changes in your future, this really is the best way to deal with everything.
Don’t skimp on this part! Remember, a resource plan is not only about filling capacity, it’s about designing plans around your team members. And in the end you’ll be more likely to see better results
So start by mapping out your resources’ skill sets with a resource planning tool. Then when the scheduling starts, you’ll know what everyone is qualified for. And who makes the best fit.
This will help not only the project stick to schedule, but should help improve team dynamics as well. They’ll notice when they begin to get tasks suited towards their unique skills, that more effort has gone into the planning process. Instead of feeling like an extra pair of hands, they’ll feel valued for their specific talent. Win-win!
With these, you can add any kind of information you’d like about your team – their location, their team leader, languages they speak, or specialized skills. Then you can filter and sort by this data. This helps you create the right balance of skills and ensures that you find the right resource for your task.
Now comes the fun part. Where you’ll decide which resources go where. How you do this, depends on you as the PM. Maybe you like to look at the project schedule and see which tasks are blank. Or perhaps you like to schedule tasks directly to the resource itself.
Whichever method is most comfortable, it’s time to ensure that the project has the correct resource capacity. So the work can get started!
Matrix planning is a feature that helps you turn plans on their head. Literally! Create project schedules with unassigned tasks and leave the resourcing until last. Or if you prefer, allocate the tasks firsts then check in on the POV of the projects. In both instances you can plan more comfortably. While also never missing a detail along the way.
With some resource planners, you can even manually adjust the utilization. Why would you want to do that? Well, with this feature, you can decide how much effort your resources put into their tasks. Ineffective resource planning can lead to a distorted workload. For example, some of your resources might be overwhelmed with their tasks. While others don’t have enough on their plates to keep them busy. Honestly, neither of these situations is desirable.
Keeping utilization in check is especially useful if you have scheduled concurrent tasks for team members. Adjusting the levels yourself helps convey the need to focus more intently on one task as opposed to another.
Maybe, humans will never fully succeed at multitasking, but this may be the next best thing.
Resource planning tools can give you a better overview of your various utilizations. That way you’ll know how occupied your resources are with their current tasks. As well as with any other ongoing projects.
Use this number to your advantage. If you’re aware of your resources’ skills, you can move things around to optimize their workload. Or, if you don’t have enough people on your team to handle the workload, consider bringing in some extra help. Outsourcing and freelancers can alleviate some of the burden on your team. And since we’re all used to working remotely now, it shouldn’t disrupt workflow.
What’s the point of a plan if your team isn’t aware of it? Or they aren’t updated on the changes? Or they can’t see the progress, and aren’t invested in the upcoming deadlines?
As PM, your plans are meant to be shared, that’s why you spent all that hard-earned time on them. So if you use the wrong planning tool, you may begin to notice how difficult it is to keep everyone connected.
You may really start to notice this disconnect when you use free planning templates and programs like Excel. Not only can plans get messy spread out on different sheets, but it’s difficult to keep track of the latest iteration. Plus, sharing them requires multiple (expensive) licenses and has to be done the old fashioned way, via an attachment in Slack or email.
This is especially true for remote teams and organizations that utilize virtual working. Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but it’s a killer for communicating plans and keeping people on task. And if you’re still using Excel for your remote team project management, then you might be aware firsthand why 46% of projects don’t get completed on time.
Share your plans with anyone who needs them. The best software allows PMs to control planning via different permissions in access and editing rights. And you can decide who will be automatically alerted when the plans change. Or you can share the plans with your bosses, stakeholders, or third parties, with only their email address. No need to create separate accounts.
When Pure Technologies began resource planning in Ganttic, they found the solution to dispersed resource scheduling they were searching for. Saying:
“We needed a better way to schedule a project so that we could see who would be involved and what equipment would be in use. Especially when teams were coming from three different offices nationwide and equipment was being shipped from anywhere in the country. We can track at least 80 pieces of equipment now as well, which wasn’t practical previously”
No matter how well you plan the budget of your project, if it’s not accompanied by effective resource planning, the project will be in danger. Delays, late fees, the cost of extra workers, the price of repairs, overtime, they all go towards eating up your budget. A project with an undervalued project team that’s behind schedule can’t really be within the budget, can it?
To prevent your project from going over budget there’s two things to remember: review and re-forecast. Take a look at the state of your resources, the time before completion, and how much of your budget you have left. Of course with software, it’s super simple to get an overview of all of this information.
Then once you know what you have to work with, re-forecast. Engage in some resource leveling and push some projects back. Or if that’s not possible, use resource smoothing and move things around. If you do this regularly and vigilantly, then you won’t have to experience going over budget. Take the right steps now, and fix your budget before it becomes a problem down the road.
Remember those custom data fields which swooped into save the day? Well, here they are again for some more friendly uses.
Add custom information regarding different numbers to your resources. For example, add in the price of a piece of machinery. Or the salary of a hired contractor. Or the hourly rates of the freelancers on your team. You can even use this information in report calculations, so once you schedule them, you’ll know exactly how much they cost within your project’s time frame, how much of the budget they account for, and what you have left to work with.
We have some bad news for you. The plan you made is never what’s really going to happen. There will be changes. Robert is going to schedule a vacation in the middle of it, and Anny will be overwhelmed with something that’s more pressing. And you will probably need to reallocate additional resources during the course of the project.
In project management, this is a common story. But it’s important to be realistic when planning, as well as cognizant of any roadblocks you might encounter. But you can’t just sit back and wait for the problems to come to you.
Take a step back, and review the way you are planning and optimizing your plans. Are your reports solid, and do they paint an accurate picture of your projects’ course? Is your team tracking how much time it really takes to complete their scheduled tasks?
Better planning requires a better understanding of every aspect. By getting an overview, you can optimize how you plan and learn how to make adjustments that help.
The point of using resource planning software, is to make it easier on you, your team, and meet your goals. So don’t let some stupid oversights ruin everything. Keep these lessons in mind the next time you sit down and engage in some resource planning. Turn ineffective planing into effective planning. And you’ll be guaranteed a planned win.
What does it take to become a successful project manager? Communication is key, as is realistic goals. See a few more tips for success.
We got 6 of the most critical resource planning metrics that will help your project management and high-level planning gain more efficiency.
Resource planning can supercharge your project management. Check out some ways PMs can benefit plus 5 of the best tools to get you started.
Discover the causes behind employee burnout, an infographic on who is more prone to burn out & 5 tips to prevent it with employee resource planning.
14-day free trial. No credit card required.