What makes project resource management an integral part of the project management process? While both are used to schedule and plan activities, engaging in project management without a clear resource plan can lead to resource allocation problems, delays, and increased project costs which jeopardizes the project’s success and its ability to meet objectives.
For organizations to succeed in today’s competitive business landscape, efficient resource allocation is crucial. Project resource management provides organizations with a comprehensive approach to plan, allocate, and manage resources to achieve project goals and boost overall business performance.
In this article, we’ll delve into what project resource management is, why it’s important, the benefits it offers, and the challenges project resource management software can overcome.
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What Is Project Resource Management?
Project resource management is a strategic discipline that involves planning, allocating, and managing resources within an organization to ensure the successful execution of projects. These resources may include human resources, equipment, materials, budget, and more. The approach is designed to help businesses optimize resource utilization, enhance project efficiency, and ultimately improve their bottom line.
The goal of project resource management is to create the best combination of resources to satisfy project requirements and achieve business outcomes while also considering the same resources are likely needed in another part of the business.
According to Gartner, project managers can achieve successful resource allocation by “enabling careful initiative prioritization, preventing resource overload, and promoting flexible completion timing to maximize value delivery.”
Why Is Project Resource Management Important?
Every organization should have a project resource management plan in place for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the approach ensures project managers get the most from their team, tools, and technology.
Additional reasons project resource management is critical for business success are:
- Resource optimization: Project resource management ensures that resources are allocated effectively, preventing overallocation or underutilization. This can lead to costly delays and decreased productivity.
- Project success: Organizations who undervalue the importance of project resource management have roughly 50% of their projects fail. Effective resource management increases the likelihood of success by ensuring that the right resources are available when needed.
- Cost control: The cost for unsuccessful projects is estimated at $260 billion — a 46% increase since 2018, according to Synopsys and the Consortium for Information and Software Quality. Project resource capacity planning helps control project costs by minimizing resource waste and reducing the risk of scope creep.
- Customer satisfaction: Better resource allocation improves project delivery and overall success. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.
- Predictability: Project resource management enables organizations to predict future resource needs, allowing them to proactively plan for future projects and allocate resources accordingly.
The 6-Step Project Resource Management Process
Organizations looking to improve their project resource management process should follow the six steps listed below.
Determine how to estimate, obtain, manage, and use resources
The first step is to determine the best way to estimate, obtain, manage, and use resources. The best project resource management plans are flexible in their approach, as this ensures managers can deftly manage various project types, work efforts, and staffing needs.
Additionally, project managers may want to consider including multiple resource planning modes when planning a project. This ensures managers can make adjustments when necessary.
Estimate capacity needed
This is where managers estimate the required resources needed to complete individual projects. This includes the type and amount of material, equipment, facilities, supplies, tools, and technologies required to effectively complete all project tasks.
With a plan in place, managers can now focus on procuring and obtaining all resources — both people and physical — necessary to complete the project. Keep in mind this step may require hiring, onboarding, or providing additional training.
Develop the team
To enhance project progress, productivity, and results, project managers may need to improve team member competence and interaction. Additionally, project managers should carefully monitor the performance of various team members as needed. Should employees or team members need additional coaching, training, or direction to enhance individual and team performance, it should be provided as quickly as possible.
The final step in effective project resource management is ensuring that resources are assigned to specific projects as outlined in the project plan. Project managers should regularly assess resource performance, make adjustments as necessary, and ensure that resource allocation aligns with project objectives.
Project Resource Management Benefits
Businesses can realize a number of benefits with an effective project resource management plan in place. A few of the benefits it yields are listed below.
Too often, teams waste a significant amount of time (51% according to Inc.) on tasks with little to no business value. This includes inefficient resource allocation that results in bottlenecks, under- or over-utilization of resources, and project delays.
Implementing a project resource management plan enables organizations to avoid these bottlenecks by ensuring resources are appropriately allocated throughout the organization. This is primarily achieved by providing project managers with more visibility into resources. Should a bottleneck occur or other issues arise, managers can take action quickly.
Teams who rely solely on spreadsheets or disparate tools to keep track of employee productivity likely have unbalanced resources. Some may be used too often and others not enough, which decreases productivity, increases the likelihood of employee burnout, and drives up resource costs.
Project resource management enables organizations to effectively balance resources, ensuring workload is evenly distributed. This results in happier employees and increased company morale, which ultimately increases productivity across teams.
Additionally, a project resource management plan enables leaders to see exactly where resources are being used. Should adjustments need to be made to increase productivity, managers can do that in real-time, decreasing the likelihood of productivity disruptions.
Enhancing customer and stakeholder satisfaction
Customers who experience constant delays or who must continuously inquire about the status of their projects are more likely to have lower satisfaction rates and, ultimately, spend less. For organizations to maintain customer retention and loyalty, they must effectively allocate resources. This is equally important for internal business stakeholders as it provides much-needed visibility into available resources, which reduces frustration and over- or under-utilization of resources.
A project resource management plan provides real-time insight into project or delivery risks, enabling them to mitigate the problem more quickly. Additionally, the approach provides real-time visibility into incoming customer requests, ensuring the organization has the appropriate amount of resources on hand.
Organizations that reactively capacity and resource plan are more than likely experiencing project delays, inefficiencies, low employee productivity and morale, and poor utilization of resources. By adopting a proactive approach to project resource management, organizations improve predictability. This enables them to plan for larger, more complex projects more effectively, which decreases the impact on the customer experience and revenue.
Project Resource Management Challenges
Because resource management is a critical function to manage both capacity and allocation appropriately, critical organizations get it right. However, managing capacity (the mid-to long-term outlook) and allocation (short-term outlook) can be challenging. Too much focus on one and not enough on the other can further strain resources and put projects behind.
Below, we’ll review the top challenges of project resource management and how organizations can overcome them.
Lack of visibility across the enterprise
Many organizations struggle with a lack of visibility around resource capacity and availability. Project managers who don’t have comprehensive visibility into available resources will likely experience project delays, poor resource allocation, and employee frustration. Project managers must be able to see — at a glance — who is available to work on which projects and when, as well as what tools or technologies are needed to complete tasks.
To increase resource visibility, project managers should:
- Establish a single ”pane of glass” — a project resource management tool is the best way to do this.
- Keep an accurate record of project progress and resources used.
- Communicate with team members to ensure they’re updating and tracking their time regularly.
Incorrect estimation of team’s capacity and availability
Incorrectly estimating team members’ capacity and availability can be damaging in several ways. First, it can create unnecessary stress on individuals who feel pressured to meet deadlines. Second, it can lead to projects not being completed at the highest standard or on time. Finally, employee morale and productivity can be negatively affected as employees or resources are overloaded.
Creating a project resource management plan ensures that team members’ capacity and availability are accurately reflected, decreasing the chance of employee burnout, project delays, poor team morale, and disruptions to efficiency or productivity.
Unexpected events arise all too often in the business world. These events — a pandemic, natural disaster, competitor move, or market shift — can significantly impact business performance, reputation, and goals.
An effective project resource management approach ensures unforeseen events have as little impact on business performance and processes as possible. This is achieved by increasing organizations’ visibility into current and future resource needs. Should an unforeseen event occur, teams are more equipped to handle them.
Resource limitations in a multi-project environment
Ideally, teams would work on one project at a time; however, this is rarely the case in today’s fast-paced world. Instead, organizations are managing multiple projects simultaneously, making effective resource management challenging. Individuals must split their time between projects and rely on a number of technologies or tools to complete tasks.
Creating a project resource management plan ensures that both people and tools are spread evenly across projects. Not only does this increase the chances of successful project completion, but it also provides team members and leaders with complete visibility into who is working on what and when and which resources they’ll be using.
Disconnect between sales and delivery team
When a company’s sales and delivery teams are misaligned on project goals and resource needs, the consequences can be huge. Sales teams may promise deadlines that are impossible to meet or resources that aren’t available, which puts a significant strain on the delivery team.
To increase cross-team collaboration and resource visibility, organizations should utilize a project resource management plan. This ensures sales teams are setting deadlines that can be met without straining employees and that they have the right resources available.
Project Resource Management Use Cases
Project resource management can be utilized in a myriad of ways in business settings — from customer engagement to connecting enterprise applications. Here are a few examples of businesses using project resource management in their processes.
The security company was struggling to scale and predict future business needs with legacy methodologies and individualized processes. The company improved predictability using project resource management software by extending forecasts an additional 55 days. This ultimately resulted in faster service delivery and more accurate invoicing.
Siemens’ old systems and processes created inefficiencies and wasted too much project managers’ time. Additionally, the company struggled to keep accurate, timely reports. By implementing project resource management software, Siemens created real-time reports, significantly improving productivity. The company also consolidated five systems per department, saving costs, increasing revenue, and boosting productivity.
Cisco Systems Kapital
The financial services company struggled to effectively manage cross-functional collaboration across multiple streams. Additionally, the company relied on legacy systems that provided inconsistent results and limited visibility. The company saw a 99% reduction in time spent on creating project roadmaps using project resource management software. Additionally, Cisco improved visibility into resource capacity and workload internally and outside of the PMO.
IIROC had limited visibility into their portfolio health and overall resource capacity and utilization. Implementing project resource management software provided the company with automated real-time visibility into issues and risks. This enabled them to mitigate and resolve issues more quickly, increasing overall employee and customer satisfaction. Additionally, IIROC gained more visibility into project priorities by resource, ensuring each project had the necessary resources and individuals.
The 8 Key Features of Project Resource Management Software
With a myriad of project resource management software on the market, it can be difficult for organizations to pick the right platform. To help choose software that will best meet the needs of your business, keep the eight features listed below in mind.
Gain a dynamic view into all people — internal and contractor — across project teams, departments, and the enterprise with resource management software.
Drag and drop functionality
This feature will help teams to assign and reassign tasks and projects with ease — a feature that’s especially important in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
Clear visibility into resource loads (individuals and groups)
Scenario planning will help identify how resource-related changes will impact current and future project schedules.
Scenario planning will help identify how resource-related changes will impact current and future project schedules.
Look for platforms that provide a myriad of reports, including tables, charts, graphs, and more. This will help readers easily understand which resources are over-utilized and under-utilized.
To keep team members aligned, look for a project resource management platform that includes real-time notifications for internal and external team members as well as stakeholders (where appropriate).
In addition to notifications, ensure the software facilitates collaboration with resources through tools such as dedicated online discussions. Avoid platforms with disconnected and ad-hoc emails, as this can slow collaboration.
This feature can help automate resource planning, allocation, and optimization aligned to your processes
Platforms that include pre-built templates help to define a project plan, ensuring there’s a dedicated work breakdown structure.
Project resource management is critical to successful project execution and overall business improvement. Organizations can increase efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction, and predictability by effectively allocating and managing resources.
Using project resource management software like Planview offers, which includes the key features above, provides valuable tools for PMOs that optimize resource planning. With Planview, organizations can streamline the project resource management process and optimize resource utilization. This ultimately contributes to business success in today’s business landscape.