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Resource planning in project management

Why Is Resource Planning Essential in Project Management?

Completing a project is always a tough job and the resource planning is a critical factor that can determine your project’s success or its failure.

It doesn’t matter if you’re running a small start-up or a big enterprise, resource planning is an essential step in project management, and it requires quite advanced strategic thinking skills. Why? Well, picture this: a new awesome big budget project has just landed in your yard and everyone is happy to be on board and take over new tasks. Fast forward, two months later: there’s a bunch of overdue tasks, a software developer cries out loud because there’s no one available to run the tests, a junior is completely overwhelmed with tasks that are way over his skills. And, on top of all this, you’re already over the budget and your client is not happy at all. How could this happen?! Plain and simple answer: poor resource management!

Without an accurate time estimation for each task, without a careful resource allocation on those tasks, and without a good understanding of needed roles and skills your project will fail. Not only this one, but it will also have impact on future projects too! Mismanaging the resources on your current projects will prevent you from making a reliable forecast for other business opportunities. And this is how a beautiful dream becomes your worst nightmare!

A few things to consider when you plan your resources

Luckily the above situation can be avoided just by focusing on some key aspects at this point in your project:

  • Project required skills – identify what skills are necessary to successfully complete the project;
  • Resources availability – check what resources having the required skills are available out of overall capacity and take into consideration workdays / time, leave, contract start and end dates;
  • Resources costs – allocated resources hourly / daily rate should be in the project budget to ensure profitability.

And if you want to ensure a higher success rate for your project, make a risk assessment considering all the above-mentioned factors. Anticipate “what-if” scenarios to determine worst-case resource management situations and prepare a “plan B”. Because, unfortunately, projects don’t always go according to the plan, and you may need to make adjustments. What if the key person in your team gets sick? What if someone resigns? Are there other resources available? Can you afford to allocate tasks to someone with an hourly rate higher than the project budget? Or could someone with less experience carry on the tasks? You might end up needing a resource for longer than originally planned or adding new resources to your project. For exactly this reason resources planning is rather an ongoing process in project management than a one-off activity.

You may find here more details about how to make an efficient resource planning.

Optimize your resource planning process

We can agree now that resource planning is a vital step when managing a project. But what can we do to avoid chaos and to quickly figure out how to fit it all into your project pipeline? The key is to get a good view of overall resources capacity and utilization so that you can determine who’s available to work on your project, for how long and what cost.

You may try doing this with a spreadsheet, like Excel, but this can’t be a long-term solution; using spreadsheets has its limitations as manually entering data gets time-consuming and unreliable since errors are almost unavoidable. And if you’re managing more projects at the same time, don’t even think about using spreadsheets!

Your best chance to monitor and manage team workload to deliver everything on time and on budget is to use a resource planning tool. Every successful Project Manager knows that a proficient software is the key to manage all available resources all the way through project’s completion.

Here you can find out more about how a resource planning tool can significantly improve your activity as a Project Manager. And here's how elapseit can support you in efficiently planning your resources.