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05th Jul 2022
Effective resource management helps you know the answer and get the most out of every available resource.
But what is resource management exactly? And why is resource management important? Let’s run through the basics, then dig a little deeper to expand your knowledge about available project resource management tools and software, and what skills you can work on to up your resource management game.
Resource management is the process of identifying, allocating, and optimising the use of people, technology, and money in projects in a way that maximises efficiency and achieves the best organisational outcomes.
In a nutshell, it’s about making sure the right resources are available at the right time to get the job done. When we talk about resources, we’re referring to anything needed to deliver a project task. People are often the most important (and expensive) resource, but projects also rely on tools, technology, facilities, equipment, and funding to reach their goals.
Resource management occurs at all stages of the project lifecycle, from project initiation through to planning, execution, monitoring, control, and close. Skilled project managers use the best combination of resources to achieve their project goals while balancing the needs of the rest of the organisation. Often resources are limited and need to be shared across all projects. To do this well, you’ll need insight into the organisation’s strategy, visibility across all project requirements, and expert knowledge of the organisation’s resource capacity and capabilities.
Resource management helps project managers make the most of available resources to get the best outcomes from their projects.
Effective resource management plays a significant role in helping organisations meet global profitability targets. It helps reduce costs, boost productivity, and deliver more successful projects to customers.
There are several tools and techniques project managers use in resource management:
Resource forecasting in project management is making an educated prediction about the resources your project needs. Project managers can lean on a range of cost estimating techniques. Forecasting helps secure the right funding for projects, sets stakeholder expectations on timing and cost, and establishes the baseline metrics for tracking project performance.
Resource scheduling in project management involves allocating resources to project tasks for a specific time period. The capabilities of each resource and any competing priorities within the organisation are carefully considered during the allocation process. Project managers use a range of scheduling tools like work breakdown structures, Gantt charts, and mathematical analysis to develop the project schedule, guide the project team and communicate progress to stakeholders. It helps ensure your program can be contained within budget and identify cost-saving opportunities, resource gaps, and potential conflicts ahead of time.
Analysing resource utilisation is an important part of resource management. It examines whether the right resources are in place and if they’re over or under-utilised. Utilisation reports highlight where resources are spending their time so you can look for productivity and performance improvement opportunities while keeping realistic workloads. If you’re frequently over-utilising resources, it may result in machinery breakdown or employee burnout. Effective resource management is a key performance indicator and directly influences the organisation’s bottom line, so it’s an important responsibility for project managers.
Resource leveling balances resource supply and demand to get the most value out of the resources you have in the time frame you have available. Project managers review resource utilisation and then adjust tasks or schedules, or re-allocate resources to flatten resource requirements and avoid resource conflicts. It helps prevent over-allocation and under-allocation but adjusting the schedule can lead to time and cost blowouts, so it must be managed carefully.
Managing your resources without investing in project resource management software is possible by organising your information in spreadsheets and using simple tools like Gantt charts. But if your project is complex and your organisation runs multiple simultaneous projects with shared resources, software can be very useful in maximising efficiency.
“We operate a number of proprietary systems to manage matters such as resource planning and workloads, purchase orders and invoicing, document management and communication between our clients and ourselves. Some of these systems include Newforma, Deltek, Estate Master, and PMO.”
Tracy Mackay MAIPM CPPD, Project Director at Bridge 42
Project resource management software is a central spot to plan, adjust, review, and schedule all resources. It’s a great tool to facilitate communication and collaboration. In-built reports help track performance, quickly do what-if scenarios, and re-organise and re-assign resources in just a few clicks.
There are endless software options available. Do your research, ask people in your professional network for recommendations and make the most of free trials before deciding which software to implement.
As with most project management responsibilities, effective resource management requires a mix of technical and behavioural skills.
Advanced resource management skills are essential for project managers to juggle scarce resources in today’s volatile project delivery environment.
There are many opportunities to improve your resource management skills at every stage of your career by joining a professional body like the Australian Institute of Project Management. You’ll get access to on-demand webinars, events and courses to help boost your resource management capabilities, improve job performance and build career prospects.
Want to know where your skills are at? Start by completing a self-evaluation with this free online assessment.
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