What is resource management within project management? And what makes it such an integral part of the project planning process?
Both resource and project management are used to schedule and plan work activities. With them, projects run smoothly, and this helps you reach your organizational goals faster.
But engaging in project management without worrying about your resources is like only seeing half of the picture. Delays, overbookings, costly oversights – all these are common issues when resource planning is neglected.
In this article, we hope to shine a light on project resource management. Consider this a nice “starting package,” that’s gathered not only the main terms of the concept, but some of the best tips and tricks in the industry. Additionally, we put together a list of some of the best tactics and reasons why the planning and management of your projects’ resources is so important. And how easy it is to get started on the process.
Resource management is an aspect of the project management process that plans, organizes, manages, and measures people’s work. Its purpose is to plan, allocate and schedule the company’s resources as efficiently as possible. This is done by maximizing each resource’s utilization.
Put simply, project resource management is about getting the best use from your organization’s resources. Ensuring that all the components of your projects run smoothly and effectively. It should help you answer this question: What needs to be done to deliver a project on time and in accordance with the given budget?
Project resource management definition
The process of planning, organizing, scheduling and managing a project’s resources – people, tools, equipment, tech, and facilities – in the most efficient way. Maximizing utilization and ensuring the best possible use of the project’s elements.
A resource is defined as anything or anyone that can be planned or booked in order to complete the task or a project. Depending on the industry, resources can vary.
Resource planning and scheduling mainly involves reusable resources. This can be human resources such as your workforce and their specific skills. Or it can be non-human resources such as computers, equipment, rooms, vehicles, etc.
Planning and managing your projects’ resources assures you that all your resources are used effectively, on time and they follow the budget. Doing so can lead to improvements in your team’s work performance. And maximizing your team’s potential can reduce overtime and stress. Who doesn’t want a healthy and happy team?
Take for example the following scenario:
A UX-designer, design team lead, and marketing manager are having their weekly meeting in room “X” for the next 2 hours.
Resources in use: UX-designer, design team lead, marketing manager, meeting room “X”, 2 hours of time.
Resource management is used in every aspect of a business. This includes but is not limited to:
Now that we have some definitions in place, here we will further break down how to effectively engage in the resource management process.
Utilization – shows the percentage (%) of the resource in use for the selected time slot. It can be people’s time or skills, machinery usage, or time spent in meeting rooms. Maximum utilization is always 100%. One of the goals of resource management is to maximize resource utilization as effectively as possible.
TIP: Less is sometimes more! You should never plan 100% of your utilization. This allows space for changes, unexpected work, and issues. See how our actual clients at Ab Ovo navigate this issue.
Resource plan – is the step before resource scheduling. This helps you understand all the different resources needed to finish the project. You should make the resource plan as detailed as possible. Do this by thinking ahead to all the obvious and maybe not so obvious parts of your project. That way you can avoid overloading or missing resources while in the middle of the project. This can help your project to be more cost effective in the long-run.
Starting date and ending date – the actual dates when the project or task is set to start and when it is expected to finish.
Duration – shows the project or task length in days/hours. Duration includes working days as well as holidays, weekends and public holidays.
TIP: Ganttic users have the opportunity to use “Busy time” which is the actual working hours calculated as days or hours. Busy time is based on the resource’s working time (length of the working day) settings and is automatically calculated by excluding the time when the resource is not working its nights, holidays and absence charts.
When it comes to putting together a killer resource management plan, make sure that you engage in the following:
Resource allocation – helps you identify the types and amounts of resources needed to fulfill your projects. The allocation process assigns specific resources to specific project tasks.
Resource aggregation – shows the consumed amount of resources on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It’s basically the sum of resources used for one task or project in a given timeframe.
Resource scheduling – if you know the resource allocation and have a decent overview of their consumption, it is much easier to schedule them to actual resource and project plans. Resource plans show the exact time a resource is needed. Resource scheduling helps to ensure:
Once you have a number of projects in your portfolio, you need to ensure that all the work is getting done. That’s where resource capacity planning comes in. Here’s a few ways to ensure that there’s enough hands to take on workload.
Resource leveling – is solving the problem of needing one resource to do several tasks at the same time. Or when more resources are needed for a project task, than there are available. By resource leveling you can balance the workload of different resources over one project or even different projects. Your best bet for perfect leveling is by using resource management software, that gives a visual overview. Like a resource based Gantt chart. This can tell you when a project will be finished and using which resources. And help solve conflicts along the way.
if Eric the Engineer has been assigned 2 activities at the same time – since he only can work 8 hours per day, resource leveling is needed. You need to adjust the plan and timeframe so Eric can finish his work. Or you may need to allocate your resources so someone can help Eric finish on time. It’s important to note how your project time may change during the process of resource leveling.
Resource smoothing – is the way to optimize your resources when dealing with an inflexible schedule. This may mean you’re limited to a specific time frame or cannot extend your schedule. In this case, you need to optimize your resources within the time frame you do have.
Eric the Engineer wants to complete both of his assigned activities. However, this will result in resource leveling and delaying the project by 2 days. In order to solve this by resource smoothing, you have to optimize your other resources more effectively to make up for the extra 2 days. Resource smoothing helps when you have an uneven allocation of the work.
Resource overallocation – a resource is over-allocated if it has too much work to handle. To solve this, you will need to balance the workloads of the team. Or look for other solutions. Maybe you need to reallocate someone from another team or hire someone new. Not doing so could result in overtime or project delays. Both of which are costly to your project, team, and budget.
Eric the Engineer is working on a project team with 2 other other workers and a bulldozer. The work is slated to be finished at the end of the week, so the next phase can start. However, unless another bulldozer is allocated to the team, the project will run over schedule and can lead to employee and team burnout.
Resource capacity planning software has all of these features and more. Use it to get more from less!
Resource dependencies – is the connection between different resources where one resource can not work without another.
a driver and his truck, team meetings without team members, and the empty office or meeting room etc.
TIP: In resource planners like Ganttic you can assign multiple resources to one task with just a few clicks. You are also able to manage changes in multi-resource tasks with ease and no hassle.
Task dependencies – is the connection between different tasks where until the 1st task is finished, the others cannot start. The task order will be set for dependent tasks.
You can not start building walls without laying the foundation first. Task dependencies indicate the project workflow. Not only in construction project management, but in any of your projects.
TIP: With Ganttic you can actually draw task dependency lines between the tasks. This gives you a visual overview and allows you to see which tasks are dependent on each other. That way you can make changes in planning and task dates, while still keeping an eye on the important dependencies between the tasks.
A proper strategy for managing your project’s resources is not always easy to implement, but it can make the project management process smoother and easier. Based on our experience and user feedback, we can share some of the tips & tricks we’ve learned. These will help you become a master of your resources.
Maybe you’re still not convinced about the value of project and resource management. Perhaps you’re satisfied with your current software. We get it! But just remember that managing your resources effectively can lead to your project’s success. But how?
Well, for starters, managing your project’s resources allows you to:
Different tools can vary, according to company size and profile. If your team is smaller, you can start with Excel and simple spreadsheets. However to grow and manage bigger teams and the projects that go with them, replacing Excel might be the step forward.
Spreadsheets and Excel can not easily grow along with your company. And if you’re working remotely, the struggle of spreadsheets is real.
Changes to a plan can take tons of time. Plus you are often left with miscommunication problems and transparency issues.
Software to manage your resources can save tons of time. It can also allow everyone to be on the same page when it comes to project flow. Utilizations and team member workloads become more visual and clear. A proper tool makes the managing process transparent and understandable, and gives you control.
Resource management in projects is not as hard as it seems. Especially if you devote some time to thinking through the resource plan, scheduling, and allocation, and keep an eye on the utilization. This is of course much easier when you have the right tool to use.
Are you still unsure how today’s software can give you the best overview and control of your project? Or how to quickly and transparently handle all the planning changes? Ganttic has resource scheduling, utilization, custom category fields, and Gantt chart overview with drag and drop features available.
You are also welcome to book a 1 to 1 demo to learn more.
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“Ganttic’s strengths are scheduling, reporting, and seeing what everybody is doing. It’s the big picture that we are after. And with Ganttic, you’ll have that too.”
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