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Effective Project Management Resource Planning

Effective Project Management Resource Planning

A pen and a calculator sitting on a paper with accounting numbers and line charts.

Last Updated October 11, 2023

For a project manager, a resource is a term used to describe each of the assignable elements in a project. For example, a project’s resources can include any available personnel, unused equipment, free materials or unspent time that a project manager has to work with.

Project management is an act of looking at available resources and trying to find the most efficient way to assign them to the various tasks in the project workflow. Resource planning takes both significant understanding of the skills of team members and the tools they have available to do their jobs. But when done well, it can be highly rewarding.

Resource Allocation and Resource Management

Before a project manager can develop a resource allocation plan, they should understand the range of tasks that have need to be completed before the project can be delivered. Quality resource plans take tasks and match personnel to them according to their individual skills and abilities, while making sure to not overload any one team member with more work than can be handled. While this workload may vary from person to person, as a general rule, you should endeavor to not assign more than three tasks to an individual at one time. Ideally, each of these responsibilities should be matched to only one team member to avoid overlap and competition.

Given the unpredictable nature of projects and schedule changes, project managers can encounter unforeseen obstacles at various points during a project’s lifecycle. To effectively prepare for impediments, project managers should focus on keeping tasks as short as possible. This way, should an individual be derailed for any reason, the chances of having something concrete to show at that point are increased.

Unpredictability can also place a burden on project managers to continue resource planning throughout the project. If a manager were to solely allocate resources at the onset of the project, project teams would likely not be able to properly address new complications. While managers should not reassign resources too often or without a strong reason, by continuing to assess the resource plan, managers can provide a much needed element of flexibility to address new challenges.

Software Benefits for Project Management

For larger projects, project management software is often used to help managers keep track of resource allocation. The advantage of networked software is that it documents all project information in one place and allows for easy modification when necessary.

Project management software is one way to show everyone involved in a project who is assigned to which task. It provides a strong visual indication of the amount of work each team member has and allows allocation of new tasks accordingly. Ideally, team members should see both their tasks and the tasks of others to help reduce the possibility of redundant work.

Its Importance

With the aid of planning software, project managers are able to approach each new project with a full sense of the required tasks and the resources available. While software can help streamline resource planning, it is important for managers to not lose sight of the human side of project management.

Ultimately, resource planning and allocation is a matter of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various team members, thus allowing managers to understand who would be the right fit for each job. Technology helps enable speed and efficiency, but understanding human psychology and resource limitations may play a greater role in planning success.