Project Resource Management: Understand 6 building blocks

Planning project resources is an integral part of project management. In this article we will look at what a project manager should know about resource planning and management.  

Project Resource Management
Project Resource Management
The article aims to answer important aspects about resource management listed below.
  1. Importance of Human Resource Planning in Management.
  2. Resource Management Plan and its need.
  3. Resource allocation and Scheduling.
  4. Calculating Resource Costs.
  5. Resource utilization reports. 
  6. Resource overheads which need to be considered.

1. Importance of Human Resource Planning in Project Management

  • Human resources do the actual work so they are always the key component in project planning.
  • Not having the right resourcing for the project can make or break the project.  
  • Most of the project planning, tracking, methodologies are all focused on people.
  • They are major portion of any project cost so it is important that they are used optimally.
  • Hiring and training resources takes time so planning in advance is crucial.
  • Having resources with the right skills and experience are vital to any project's success.
  • A resource plan can be shared with others which for increased visibility.

2. Why do you need a Project Resource Plan?

Resource Management Plan
Resource Plan
  • Always have a resource plan regardless of the format having a plan is vital as that forms the contract between you and others.
  • Share your resource plan with everyone to get feedback especially the management. Do that before the project starts so that everyone knows who is working on what.
  • Excel is a popular choice for resource planning and management so is PowerPoint. You can either use a simple resource plan, resource matrix or a capacity plan if you looking at multiple project resource planning. 
  • You can also use a simple PPT resource plan or advanced plan if your management needs are complex.
  • If you are looking at managing a team of resources then use the team resource plan.

3. Resource Allocation and Scheduling

Resource Allocation and Scheduling
Resource Allocation and Scheduling
  • Resource allocation is the process by which a project manager gets resources allocated to a project. Generally, resources belong to a resource pool and need to be allocated to the project.
  • In a large organization this can be quite challenging as many projects will be competing for the same resources. The project manager needs to be proactive and get his allocations done ASAP so that the resources get booked to the project.
  • The project manager will take into account the work to be done and the project duration to come up with the project resource requirements

  • Once the resources are allocated to the project the PM will then schedule individual tasks for the resources are per the work break down structure.
  • The detailed resource scheduling can then be used to track resource workload and utilization.
  • In typical IT Projects there are times when project resource could be free during testing or analysis. Make sure your understand the nature of the work so that you can have some back fill tasks for the resources.
  • The back fill tasks can be documentation or non-critical project tasks which can be dropped if needed.
  • In the project schedule it is important to leave some time for documentation and residual tasks after the project is complete.

4. How to calculate resource costs

How to calculate resource costs
Resource Costs
  • Resource costs are major portion of project budget in most of the IT Projects.
  • Tracking resources costs can be a challenging task in project management as it is can get complicated when the resource pool is mixed with full time and contractors.
  • If the resource billing rates are too high then it is easy to have budget overruns. When the cost is too high the resource workload should be reviewed as frequently as possible. At least it should be done on weekly basis.
  • A project manager can use a simple excel budget spreadsheet to calculate project costs.
  • Consider the cost that could incur from consulting, travel and training costs.
  • If contract resources keep an eye on the hours logged per day. 

5. Resource Utilization Reports and Tracking

Resource Reports and Tracking
Resource Reports
  • As resources are important to the project it is vital that their time is tracked and reported for adequate management.
  • Resource reporting and task reporting go hand in hand which means doing one often gives insight into the other.
  • Most of the organisations use time sheets so the time sheet data provides a good view of how much time was spend on the tasks.
  • If your organization does not use time sheets then you can simple resource time tracking tool using excel. 
  • Tracking the time and tasks also gives a visibility of what other the project team is working on. It also helps to find out if any resources were diverted form project tasks.
  • I prefer to publish a resource utilization report every week. It can be a complex report coming from a PPM software and a simple excel sheet with resource name, task and the time spent for that week.
  • MS Project has some cool features when it comes to resource utilization reports and task management.
  • Understand the skill levels of the resources as that will affect their productivity.
  • Review time sheets and tasks completed at least on a weekly basis.
  • Factor in the below mentioned resource overheads.

6. Resource Overheads Management

  • All the human resources come with some or the other overheads like planned and unplanned leaves, public holidays, personal development, training, on-boarding, team or department activities etc. As a project manager you need to make sure that you factor all these into project schedule. 
  • Consider public holidays, annual leave, offshore holidays, part time working arrangements. Most often we tend to miss the offshore holidays. 
  • It takes about 2 months for a new resource to be productive so plan accordingly when hiring new resources.
  • All the companies give annual leave so in a given year there will always be holidays.
  • Reduce the allocation in holidays periods like Easter and Christmas. Even though the resources might available dependent SMEs or management might be on leave.

To conclude I will summarize the key highlights in management of resources - 

  • Always maintain, and distribute an approved resource plan. 
  • Always allocate for optimal utilization.
  • Factor the resource overheads in the planning.
  • Track and report resource utilization on regular a basis.
  • Be aware of the resource costs particularly high value and contractor resources.
Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.


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