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January 7, 2021
9 min read
Resource management is the process of acquiring, planning, and distributing resources across a project from initiation to completion to ensure the successful management of costs and project timelines.
The resource management process requires an understanding of both objectives and capacity. Project managers practice resource management planning to maximize efficiency.
A definition of resource management will usually include tangible and intangible resources. A tangible resource would be tools, building materials, or other physical resources. Where an intangible resource might be the amount of time, your company has to complete a project.
A resource can be anything necessary for the successful completion of a project — a staff member is an example of a human resource.
Resource allocation is a vital aspect of every management plan. For example, running out of financial resources (money) halfway through a task would be disastrous.
To understand why resources management is important it is first necessary to define a few common types of resource managers must consider:
Human resource management is about having the right number of team members to achieve the goals of a given project.
Outside of hiring and firing, human resource planning may include training courses for employees that could then fulfill a new role more effectively.
Project managers need to have a clear understanding of resource availability and resource allocation.
As projects move at different timelines, resource planning in project management often requires the main task to be split into multiple projects of a smaller scale that are easier to manage.
It would be very rare to find a company in this day and age that doesn’t make use of digital resources.
Software licenses are digital assets that people often forget to include in their management of resources.
As you can see, the role of the resource manager requires a large amount of oversight within a company.
The core goal of resources management is to optimize resources for efficiency. Effective resourcing in management is beneficial to a company for many reasons:
To effectively manage resources, A project manager will first need to have a total overview of everyone and everything involved in a project.
Gaining oversight has the effect of avoiding resource issues such as over or under allocation of the available resources of management.
Having oversight from day one should prevent a project running into unforeseen gaps in the supply chain or in staffing, which can bring an entire project to a halt.
Essentially oversight is concerned with the prevention of bottlenecks in a project.
Resource utilization planning is about maximizing the potential of a project’s resources.
Utilization is the most important metric for many people in project management, as it is a way to directly calculate the efficiency with which a resource is being used.
It is a method used by project managers to find a balance between resources and tasks. It often deals with staffing – having the correct number of team members to complete the project efficiently.
Utilization planning is especially useful if a project’s resources need to work on several projects simultaneously.
Resource management creates transparency as it gives all people involved in a project a clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations placed on the project. As such, it makes for effective planning.
Moreover, transparency across the resources of a project should help prevent miscommunications, which can create bottlenecks.
At some level, every task is going to suffer from miscommunication.
By laying all the resources out first, a manager can make sure that there is a 360-degree view of the project.
This makes it more likely that the right resources will be available at the right time. It prevents over allocation, re-allocation, and is a key concept in ensuring functionality.
Transparency in a workplace has the added bonus that employees feel more engaged with their work and their employer.
Employee engagement is one of the biggest drivers in productivity. So, encouraging transparency at all levels is also a method for effective resource utilization.
Mitigation is all about time management. Understanding the overlap between longer timelines and shorter ones is essential for an organization to run smoothly.
For example, one team member retiring at the same time as a team member going on vacation could create a bottleneck. It is an example of managing timelines of different lengths.
Mitigation should mean that potential problems are identified and fixed before they even occur. Many companies use technology to mitigate problems at all levels of severity.
This could be creating a booking system for meeting rooms so that two people don’t want to use it at the same time. Alternatively, it could be replacing all work computers every five years.
Resource management of this kind is about future-proofing.
At the highest level, managing resources brings understanding. Understanding the resources available for a task allows for control of the entire process.
A manager must be aware of the resources needed to execute a project. Without that, there will be no control.
A project is not a stationary thing. It is always in flux. Having a solid grasp of resource availability allows a manager to stay in control when things go wrong or change unexpectedly.
Here are some effective methods for the practical implementation of resource management in your organization’s business projects:
As with every aspect of a successful business, the first step is planning.
A resource plan should cover all the resources that your organization will need to bring a project to completion.
A good resources plan needs to be detailed. It should include both tangible and intangible resources – human resources, project resources, and digital resources, as well as a detailed timeline that takes account of phases and priorities to prevent bottlenecks.
A resource breakdown structure (RBS) is the second step that your project manager should take after creating a detailed resources plan.
Essentially, RBS is a way of creating hierarchies of importance for resources that people require to complete projects.
RBS is a method for the organization of resources so as to make allocation easier down the line.
Start by identifying high-priority areas such as chain of responsibility and chain of supply. Ensure that each stage in the chain is correctly allocated the necessary resources.
For example, a building project will normally require on-site personnel, off-site personnel, and outside personnel, such as contractors or surveyors.
An effective resource breakdown structure would take note of the fact that tools and equipment should be allocated to on-site personnel, whereas computers and software are more likely to be used in the office.
Similarly, financial resources should be put aside for outside contractors, or time should be allocated during which a surveyor can safely visit a building site.
Resource leveling is a slightly different approach to resource management as it is a reactive measure where most resource management is proactive by nature.
Essentially resource-leveling refers to the process of identifying inefficiencies – such as an underused resource – and reapplying them for the benefit of the project or organization.
In practice, resource leveling requires a project manager to be on the lookout for kinks in the chain and making adjustments that can smooth out the process before it becomes a serious problem.
One example of resource leveling would be extending the projected time for the completion of one phase of a project and delaying the start of another if it became clear that the two required the same resources and could not run concurrently.
Another way to level resources in that scenario would be to bring in additional personnel with complementary skill sets to help achieve the goal faster without having to delay the start of the next phase.
Resource leveling is a balancing act that happens daily, and its practical implementation depends on effective resource scheduling.
Nowadays, a project manager would not be expected to keep track of everything with pen and paper.
There are many resource management tools available for all different industries, and they take many various forms. By now, it should be apparent that a resource management tool, such as rota planning software, is a resource in itself that would need to be cataloged by a project manager.
Common resource management tools in everyday office environments include cooperative working software such as Trello.
It is likely that your job also requires the use of a dashboard software or web application where people are able to self organize in their teams.
This is one of the fastest-growing trends in new businesses. Rather than having dedicated project managers – most companies will choose one person from a team to become a responsible individual for a task, and then the team will make use of resource management software to organize themselves effectively and efficiently.
Multitasking is a myth.
Having a team capable of working on several different projects simultaneously might sound like the dream scenario for a project manager.
Indeed, having multi-talented individuals in your organization is great. But, attempting to apply all of these skills at the same time is impossible.
It has been shown time and time again that asking a workforce to focus on multiple tasks at the same time reduces both productivity and quality of work. In the end, completing the tasks will take longer and will be done at a lower level.
A project manager should try to eliminate multitasking by allocating resources such that there are as few concurrent projects as possible that rely on the same resources.
In essence, this is about getting the right people working on the right project at the right time. The portfolio stage of a project would typically be the time to plan for this problem.
A project manager should have included resource capacity in the portfolio planning process to secure strategic initiatives down the line.
In the end, it is the role of the resource manager to elevate the entire organization.
Whether that is in hiring and firing, offering counseling and career development advice. Or creating a productive working environment, and in the most basic sense, managing physical and digital resources.
The question of what is resource management depends on the resources that your company requires.
Similarly, the role of the resource manager also shifts from business to business.
In some instances, the resource manager’s role more closely resembles a type of project management. In others, it is a holistic company wide role that covers human resources and business resources.