“Time is the most precious resource there is — you have to protect it.” – Jesse Itzler
Most project managers are aware that time is our most precious resource, particularly as the clock of deadlines keeps ticking. However, time isn’t the only resource us project managers need to concern ourselves with. There’s the management of all types of resources, both tangible (such as equipment, materials, and finances), and intangible (people and, of course, time). There’s also the question of how to use those resources efficiently.
Simply put, the management of all of the above is considered resource management, and it’s an important part of every project manager’s job, no matter the industry. Resource management requires detailed planning so the right resources are assigned to the right tasks. It requires managing schedules and budgets, too.
Sound daunting? It can be. Thoughtful organization of resources and careful planning can be time-consuming, maybe even overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s explore the importance of resource management, as well as some of the best resource management tools and techniques to help ensure your projects are as successful as possible.
Types of Resources
Different types of resources need to be managed for most projects. They include:
- Human resources: team members and stakeholders
- Financial resources: your budget and the money you have to keep the project rolling
- Technology and software
- ‘Soft’ resources: knowledge, information, and skills
- Physical space: facilities such as meeting space and offices
- Materials: office supplies, or, if you’re making a product, this includes raw materials to make the product
As project manager, it is your responsibility to balance these facets of resource management and use the proper tools at your disposal to meet goals and get the job done.
What’s the Purpose of Resource Management?
You know what needs to be done. You’re ready to hit the ground running. So, why should you concern yourself with resource management?
Though it may seem like a frivolous way to spend your time, focusing on resource management early on in your project’s planning stages will help you optimize efficiency throughout the life of your project.
That’s right, resource management is based on efficiency and optimization. Here are some of the perks to putting some of your energy and thoughts into resource management:
- Nothing gets missed: resource management and supporting software helps you keep track of your resources both from the start, and on an ongoing basis
- Efficiency: ensures the right supplies and resources are available when you need them
- Optimized workflows: increases productivity and employee retention and decreases the risk of project failure due to burnout or disengagement. With resource management, you won’t be overloading Kathy while Joe sits at his cubicle with nothing better to do than play solitaire. Everyone can see what they’re expected to complete and when.
Make a Resource Management Plan
Yes, that’s right. Another plan for your project. As best you can, plan out what resources you’ll need for the project. This can mean creating a list that you discuss with your team to break down the project into smaller phases. Use information from your Project Charter to develop this plan and create roles and responsibilities, an organization chart, and resource breakdown.
Estimate your resource requirements for each stage of the project. You likely won’t need some subject matter experts for the entirety of the project. Your public relations expert, for example, may not be needed until the end of the project.
Pro-tip: take this a step further and document exactly how much time and resources will be required for each phase of the project. Consider what risks you’ll face at each stage, too.
What to Include in Your Resource Management Plan
Create a list of the resources you’ll need to manage throughout the project. Much of this will be estimated, but it’s important to have a general idea of what—and who—you will need at the onset. Some items to include in your resource management plan are:
- Resource ID: identify the number and type of people you need and their assigned task/use for each stage of the project
- Resource Quantity and Cost: estimate the cost of each resource, when you will need it, and how much of it will be required
- Roles and Responsibilities: outline specific roles that each team member will perform for the project
- Calendar: schedule working days, project deadlines and milestones, and holidays
- Issue Log: keep this to make note of any challenges that you anticipate along the way, such as acquiring skilled resources and/or problem-solving if issues arise
Get the Resources You Need
Once you’ve created your resource management plan, it’s time to get the resources you need (i.e., hiring your team members, purchasing necessary equipment, and setting up software, etc.). Here are some tips for managing your resources once you’ve developed your plan and are ready to start the project.
Managing Your Team
Your resource management skills are just as important as your leadership skills as a project manager. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand. Tips for managing human resources include:
- Providing training opportunities so your team has the skills required to get their jobs completed
- Clearly defining roles and responsibilities
- Setting up recurring 1:1 meetings with the team members you need to work closely with, as well as weekly team meetings
- Giving everyone access to the software they’ll need to do their jobs
- Making sure job descriptions and expectations are clear
- Considering how you will manage time away (i.e., sick days, holidays) and determining who will be back-up for others, so you are prepared when team members have time off
Managing Other Resources
While most of your attention and energy will go to managing people, it’s important to pay attention to your other resources, too. A few additional things to consider are:
- Having contracts with suppliers, so they know what to deliver and when
- Managing contracts and leases for physical space and/or equipment you’re using
- Having the right software to get the job(s) done
Resource Management Tools
Having the right tools at your disposal will help you meet goals and end your project successfully. Every project—and project manager—is different, but by and large you’ll need the same tools across each project for your resource management, including;
The first tool (and hopefully the most reliable!) is your own wisdom and experience. Much of your resource management will require you to use your own professional judgement, leadership skills, and expertise.
No matter your industry or project type, you’ll need software to run your project. Look for a resource a management tool that has calendars, resource capacity planning capabilities, and a user-friendly interface. Most project management tools, like MS Project, have resource management capabilities built into them. In MS Project, you can create a resource pool and assign tasks to individual team members.
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t equipped with a crystal ball, so resource estimation can be a bit tricky. Make sure you work closely with your team members to assess exactly what they’ll need to do their jobs, including how much time things take, to have a more realistic estimation of how long the work will take.
You’ll also need software to help you manage the following:
- Organizing workflow/planning
Before you roll up your sleeves and get started on any project, it’s important to select the techniques and tools that will help manage your team, automate work, and manage your resources effectively.
Resource management is essential for any successful project, but it can be challenging. Being organized at the onset by developing a thorough resource management plan will help ensure you’re in compliance with your deadlines and requirements, and well on your way to successful project completion.
Do you have any recommended tips or tools for resource management? Share them with us in the comments below!