Project Management

Achieving Success Through Effective Project Resource Management

Dovile Miseviciute ·

Passionate content marketer looking to bring better solutions to the project management space. 2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood. 2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.

resource project management

Imagine a project where costs are saved, tasks are completed on time, and team members are neither underutilized nor on the brink of burnout.

Is this scenario realistic? 

It could be! But only with a solid project resource management plan in place. Such a plan guarantees you’re not just reacting to workload and project demands but proactively managing them.

Ignoring the importance of resource management has severe consequences. Organizations that don’t invest in proper project resource management see nearly of half their projects fail. The financial impact is significant, too, with the cost of project failures reaching an estimated $260 billion in 2020.

In this extensive post, we’ll discuss:

  • The fundamentals of project resource management
  • Challenges in resource management
  • Strategies and best practices for effective resource management
  • Assessing resource management effectiveness with metrics and KPIs
  • Tools for strategic resource planning

Let’s dive in!

The basics of resource management

What is project resource management?

Project resource management is about planning and using your team’s resources wisely to make sure projects are completed successfully. Resources include everything needed to finish a project, such as finances, equipment, software, and the time and skills of your team. By managing these resources well, you make sure every project has what it needs, and every team member is used in the best way possible.

Why is project resource management essential for project success?

There’s no doubt that the success of any project depends on strategic project planning and for several reasons. By effectively managing resources, you can unlock numerous benefits for both your team and your projects. 

  • First, it allows for optimal task distribution. By fully understanding the workload of each team member, tasks can be assigned in a way that keeps everyone engaged without being overwhelmed. 
  • Early detection of potential issues is another advantage. Identifying problems at an early stage enables you to address them efficiently so they don’t escalate. Additionally, clear task assignments reduce confusion and allow projects to progress more smoothly.
  • Perhaps one of the most significant benefits is the impact on time and budget. Effective resource management contributes to completing projects on schedule and within the allocated budget, which is always beneficial for any organization.
  • Lastly, each project offers a learning opportunity. Reflecting on what worked and what didn’t enhances future planning. This continuous learning cycle supports an improvement in management practices with each project.

Who is responsible for resource management?

Who takes charge of resource management can vary from one company to another. In some organizations, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of project managers, business strategy leads, CTOs, or even CEOs, who might juggle the tasks of a resource manager among their other duties. 

However, other companies might have the luxury of appointing a dedicated resource manager specifically focused on the job. If your budget allows, it’s always a smart move to hire a resource manager. Having someone dedicated to optimizing project resource allocation can enhance the efficiency and success of your projects.

Now that we explained the fundamentals of project resource management let’s discuss the most common challenges you may encounter.

project resource management
Source: Plaky

The most common challenges in project resource management

The challenges of managing resources in a project are many and varied.

  • One big issue is making sure there are enough people, both full-time and freelance, to handle the upcoming work and meet revenue expectations. 
  • Even though a lot of companies use technology to help manage resources, often these systems aren’t connected, which makes it harder to keep track of everything. Only 38% of companies have a system that brings all this information together in one place.
  • Many managers also find it challenging to see what resources are available, with 41% saying this is a big problem. On top of that, there’s often not enough money to go around, which makes it even harder to manage resources.
workload resources
Workload tracker in Teamhood

Other common challenges include:

  • Not being clear about who is doing what
  • Not planning properly for how many people or how much time is needed for projects
  • Setting deadlines that are too ambitious
  • Projects growing beyond their original scope
  • Keeping resources isolated in different parts of the company
  • Not having the right information to make smart business decisions

All these issues highlight how tricky it can be to manage resources well, but finding ways to overcome these challenges is critical to making sure projects succeed.

That’s why, in the following section, we’re going to discuss some strategies and best practices for effective project resource management that will help you navigate through these challenges. 

project resource management
Source: ProSymmetry 

Strategies and best practices for resource management 

1. Developing a project resource management plan

Creating a project resource management plan guarantees that every project is set up for success through effective resource deployment. This plan serves as a roadmap for how resources will be identified, allocated, managed, and optimized throughout the project lifecycle. It’s about making sure the right people and tools are in the right place at the right time, not just to meet deadlines but to do so efficiently and within budget.

Identify the scope and objectives of the project

To develop a comprehensive resource management plan, start by identifying the scope and objectives of your project. What are the key deliverables, and what resources will you need to achieve them? 

For example, if your project is to develop a new software app, the deliverables might include a functioning software product, user documentation, and training materials. The resources required could range from software developers with specific programming skills to technical writers and training facilitators.

Analyze the availability of your resources

Do you have the necessary skills within your team, or will you need to hire? How will current projects impact resource availability for your new project? 

Maybe your software development project requires expertise in a new programming language. If you don’t have anyone with this specific skill in your existing team, you might need to hire new talent or offer training to current employees. 

Additionally, assess how ongoing projects could affect the availability of key resources. Maybe you need a senior developer for your project, but they’re already working on another project; you may need to negotiate timelines or look for alternative solutions to bridge the gap.

Match your resources to tasks based on people’s skills, interests, and availability

This stage should also involve creating a timeline that outlines when each resource will be needed and for how long. Take advantage of a capacity management tool that can help you visualize the resource capacity across different projects and help you determine who is available and when.

For example, you might discover through the tool that while your senior developer is busy for the next month, a mid-level developer is available and interested in upskilling. You could assign them to start on less critical tasks of the new project and plan for a handover when the senior developer becomes available.

Monitor and adjust the plan as the project progresses

This means tracking the utilization of resources, assessing performance, and making necessary adjustments to make sure the project stays on track. 

For example, imagine a situation where the project falls behind schedule due to unforeseen technical challenges. Regular monitoring would allow you to identify this deviation early, assess the impact on resource allocation, and adjust accordingly.

resource management plan
Review resource availability across all projects with Teamhood

2. Optimizing resource management for project success

Effective resource management is crucial for maximizing efficiency and achieving project success without overburdening any aspect of your projects. This involves distributing tasks evenly among team members to prevent burnout and enhance productivity, as well as forecasting future project needs and aligning resources accordingly.

For example, let’s say you conduct a weekly review of each team member’s workload using a capacity planning tool like Teamhood. You find that a key senior developer is spending too much time on the database maintenance project, risking burnout and delaying work on the new app development. To prevent this, you reallocate some of the senior developer’s maintenance tasks to another developer who has the capacity so that the senior developer can focus on the critical app development tasks.

Or, let’s say you find that the team allocated to the software upgrade has some spare capacity in the coming weeks. You can use this capacity by starting the software upgrade earlier than planned so that the project can potentially be completed ahead of schedule.

Forecasting and leveling resources across projects is another significant challenge. Accurate forecasting of resource demand and strategic leveling guarantees that the right resources are available at the right time across all projects.

For example, let’s say you forecast that the app development project will enter a critical phase requiring additional QA testers. So, you begin leveling resources by scheduling less critical tasks in other projects for later dates and negotiating with a staffing agency to secure temporary QA testers for the peak period.

3. How to manage changing project scopes and demands

It’s common for project scopes to evolve as new requirements emerge or priorities shift. Whether it’s additional features or unexpected challenges, adapting to these changes is a part of managing any project effectively.

Let’s say you’re two months into a six-month software development project, and your client requests additional features. The best strategy in this scenario is to adopt an Agile approach to working and set up a meeting with stakeholders to reassess and adjust your project plan.

You should also consider using a project management tool to track changes and assess their impact on resources and timelines. Establish a change control process to review each change request’s necessity and implications so that decisions align with project goals.

gantt chart online
Gantt chart online in Teamhood

4. Project resource allocation and team resource optimization

Strategic resource planning relies on a reliable skills database, which outlines available skills and identifies gaps for future projects. Despite 92% of organizations using technology to track skills, only 60% can effectively plan resources with a comprehensive skills database, according to the Resource Management Institute. 

Alarmingly, 35% of organizations fail to track their employees’ project preferences or career interests, and by doing so, they fail to match projects with interested resources.

The RMI recommends three strategies to build a strong skills database:

  • Firstly, clearly define the skills required for each role. 
  • Secondly, encourage employees to update their skills regularly, a practice 51% already do annually, to keep the database current. 
  • Lastly, managers should have a process to verify these updates, which will make sure the database is accurate. 

These steps streamline resource allocation and create a workplace where projects align with the skills and interests of the team.

5. Managing resources across multiple projects

It’s not uncommon for organizations to engage in multiple projects simultaneously to achieve their strategic objectives, maximize productivity, and make efficient use of their resources. This approach allows businesses to diversify their initiatives, reduce idle time, and respond to opportunities or challenges in their market. 

However, this demands sophisticated planning, communication, and management tools, along with the ability to anticipate and respond to the dynamic needs of each project.

Here are a few best practices:

  • Begin by assessing the urgency and importance of each project and its tasks. This helps in assigning resources to high-priority projects first while also considering deadlines and resource availability.
  • Use resource optimization tools that offer a visual overview of who is working on what and when. This visibility allows for easier adjustments and helps identify potential overlaps or gaps in resource distribution.
  • Adopt a flexible approach to scheduling, which allows for shifts in priorities or unforeseen changes. This adaptability prevents bottlenecks and keeps projects moving forward.
  • Keep communication channels open between project managers and teams. This makes sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities, understands the broader project landscape, and can report on progress or raise concerns.
  • Regularly review team workloads to prevent burnout. Distributing tasks evenly and making adjustments as projects evolve will maintain productivity and morale.
  • Encourage cross-team collaboration among different departments or skill sets. This can maximize efficiency and bring fresh perspectives to projects.

With the best practices out of the way, let’s now discuss how you can assess if the strategies you’ve implemented yield positive results. 

project resource management plan
Source: RMI

Assessing performance with metrics and KPIs

When evaluating your team’s performance, you should focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) like resource utilization, timeliness of project staffing, and accuracy of resource forecasting. These KPIs offer insights into the effective use of your team’s time and skills, the speed at which you can allocate the right people to the right projects, and your ability to predict resource needs accurately.

Here are some ways how you can measure these KPIs:

  • Resource utilization: Track the percentage of time each team member spends on billable versus non-billable activities. High utilization rates indicate efficient use of time and skills, while lower rates may highlight underutilization or the need for reallocation.
  • Timeliness of project staffing: Monitor the time between a project’s initiation and when the team is fully staffed. Shorter times suggest efficient staffing processes, whereas longer durations may identify bottlenecks.
  • Accuracy of resource forecasting: Compare your initial resource predictions against actual usage to assess forecasting accuracy. Regularly reviewing and adjusting forecasts based on past performance can improve precision over time.

Additionally, consider these metrics for a more comprehensive evaluation:

  • Resource request cancellations: Track the frequency and reasons for canceled resource requests to identify planning or communication issues.
  • Resource extensions: Note how often and why resources are kept on projects beyond their planned duration. This can reveal insights into project management effectiveness and forecasting accuracy.
  • Time to staff: Calculate the duration from when a resource request is made until it is fulfilled. This metric helps in identifying efficiency in the staffing process.

Let’s now explore some of the best tools for effective resource management. These resource optimization tools will help you better measure and enhance your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Tools for effective resource management

Navigating the complexities of resource management can be exhausting, but the good news is there are a number of resource management tools you can use. These tools are designed to simplify the allocation and optimization of resources that are available at your disposal. 

One of these tools is Teamhood, which offers more than basic task tracking. It provides a comprehensive resource management feature set, including a visual workload interface that makes it easy to manage team member capacities. By integrating resource management with overall project planning, Teamhood makes sure that resources are always aligned with project deadlines and objectives.

All resource planning tools give a clear picture of resource availability and commitments, which can come in handy when handling multiple projects. These resource optimization tools help make informed decisions by presenting an integrated view of resource loads across various projects.

cross project workload
Workload tracker in Teamhood

Conclusion

Effective project resource management is the cornerstone of successful project execution. By implementing it correctly, you’ll manage to optimize costs, meet deadlines, and utilize team members efficiently without overburdening them. 

This comprehensive article has walked you through the essential aspects of project resource management, from understanding its fundamentals and importance to overcoming common challenges and employing strategies for optimal project resource allocation. 

We’ve highlighted the significance of adapting to changing project demands, the role of a well-maintained skills database, and the complexity of managing resources across multiple projects. 

As we move forward, remember that the key to successful resource management lies in continuous learning, adapting, and applying the best practices tailored to your project’s unique needs and goals. Good luck!

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