The Ultimate Guide to Resource Planning


15min read


The Ultimate Guide to Resource Planning

15min read


In project management, planning how resources will be used is essential to completing a project successfully. Resource planning includes employee hours, funding, and materials for projects plus utilities, facilities, and more. Each must be managed for projects to be completed on time, within budget, and according to specifications. This makes resource planning an essential part of successful project management. Without the planning, tracking, and analysis of resource planning, projects would be poorly planned, behind schedule, and over budget. The path to a successful project is through resource management. This ultimate guide to resource planning details the management of available resources in a successful project plan for project success.

Why Is Resource Planning So Important In Project Management?

Resource planning is vital for a project manager since the right resource allocation is one of the essential indicators for project success.

These resources can include materials that must be ordered and stored, funds to pay for the materials and labor for the project, facilities required for the project, machinery, utilities, technology, and the employees and contractors who will complete the project.

Through resource planning, a project manager considers the project needs and available resources. This allows them to plan for proper resource allocation with stakeholders in the project.

Resource planning is an important factor in project management since it will set the cost of the project. Using too many resources will result in a project going over budget, but not using enough resources may risk a project not meeting specifications.

Key Terms Of Resource Planning

To understand resource planning on a deeper level, it's important to know some key resource planning terms frequently used in project management. Understanding these resource planning terms will lead to better project management practices and performance.

Project managers who put these resource planning tools and principles to work in their projects are more likely to have success in their projects and project portfolios.

ERP software

Software designed for ERP, an acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning, is used by larger companies to manage resource planning activity and resource utilization for thousands of projects within a company’s portfolio.

The best ERP software is collaborative and cloud-based, allowing members of a project team access to plans and documents. Each member of the project team can also provide information and insights through the ERP software to help the project team as a whole to progress toward the project’s completion. Utility Resource Planning Some projects require large amounts of utilities. These can include natural gas, electricity, and water. Resource management should take utility needs into account when evaluating project resources.

Utility Resource Planning

Some projects require large amounts of utilities. These can include natural gas, electricity, and water. Resource management should take utility needs into account when evaluating project resources.

Utility Resource Planning also may include plans for utility outages, since weather conditions and other factors affect the availability of utilities. This is important to consider, as utility outages will likely lead to delays in progress on a project.

Integrated Resource Planning

Integrated Resource Planning, or IRP, is a roadmap for resource planning and resource utilization. IRP will pace resource utilization throughout the project’s timeline to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. This time tracking can reduce the cost of storing materials and allows for just-in-time materials handling.

IRP helps project managers track the billable hours, materials, funding, and other resources used during the project. Delays and overspending in some of the tasks of a project can indicate risks of missed deadlines or unprofitability, making IRP an essential step in project management.

Photo by Nadeena Granville on Unsplash

Resource Planning Prerequisites

Before resource utilization can be planned, a project must first be well defined and organized. These key resource planning prerequisites include the writing of a WBS, or work breakdown structure. The WBS breaks the project into essential project tasks and sets a timeline for each step as part of a broader project timeline.

A WBS notes certain dependencies among project tasks. For example, windows in a construction project cannot be installed until walls are built. These dependencies set the order of project tasks and note milestones within the project.

Resource availability and supply chain conditions must be considered in resource scheduling. This forecasting is essential to on-time project completion. Skilled team members completing the project must be identified, and their hours should be tracked with timesheets to ensure their hours are accounted for.

The WBS sets the project timetable as well. Accurate planning at the beginning of a project will set expectations, a budget, and a deadline. Proper resource planning should be based on the information gathered for the work breakdown schedule.

Why Do We Use Project Management Tools?

Of course, a project manager could attempt to plan for resource utilization without a project management tool like resource management software. When project managers use project management tools to optimize resource planning, capacity planning is easier and more accurate, since resource management software can deliver real-time data for decision making.

Agile software can help in human resources management including freelancer management, billable hours, and co-working plans. This resource management tool uses automation to plan workflow and prevent bottlenecks that can derail progress toward project completion. Billing can be automated through project management software, too.

The best project management software functions on a collaborative platform that allows the project team to contribute information and share plans throughout the project life cycle.

How Can You Create A Resource Plan?

The best resource planning tools for project management are the ones that work, delivering the effective resource management required by project managers. Every firm has to choose the resource planning software that works best for them as they follow the steps for successful resource planning.

Collaborative project management tools including platforms and software can help project managers create a resource plan that’s accurate and adjustable, serving as a way to track project progress and performance. Use software to follow these steps in resource planning.

Determination Of Resources Needed For The Project

As project managers create work breakdown schedules for their projects, they must determine all the resources needed for successful completion. Effective resource management requires the consideration of resource needs for the life cycle of the project.

Resources for projects include human resources as well as materials, facilities, utilities, infrastructure such as roads and ports, and funding. All of these resources should be considered by the project managers engaged in resource planning and utilization. Determining the resources needed for projects will result in greater profitability.

Determination Of Tasks During The Project

The saying that those who fail to plan plan to fail holds. The work breakdown schedule is the plan that will provide a roadmap toward successful project completion. The WBS will detail each of the tasks needed to complete the project. Without a WBS, project management would be guesswork.

The list of tasks in WBS forms the framework of metrics that shows progress on the project, the funds budgeted for the project, and the project’s deadline. It will also list any milestones achieved along the way.

This makes the work breakdown schedule an indispensable project management tool.

Steps that are left out of the work breakdown schedule will result in projects that are delayed and that don’t meet expectations. As such, the determination of tasks must be thorough and include the entire project team and project stakeholders.

Creating a WBS through collaborative, cloud-based project management software that includes resource planning tools lets project managers track progress, deliverables, and spending and make adjustments as needed. Involving the entire project team makes leaving out tasks or needed resources less likely.

Through the best project management software, project managers and project teams can work together to build the most accurate WBS for each project. Project teams will be able to add to project data and find solutions to problems together. Feedback on project tasks shared through project management software will make future tasks go more smoothly.

Matching The Resources With The Tasks

Once the project tasks are spelled out in the WBS, resources can be matched with them to prevent the overallocation of resources that can push a project over budget. Under-allocation of resources could result in work stoppages and missed deadlines.

This matching of resources includes having the right employees or freelancers assigned to tasks, too. When resources are properly matched with tasks through resource planning, tasks are completed on time and according to specifications.

Resources can also mean having the proper tools, infrastructure, utilities, and facilities for the completion of each task. These considerations are essential to task completion.

Having the right resources in the amounts needed, the best people to complete each task, and the needed materials being delivered arriving on time will ensure that a project progresses smoothly throughout its life cycle.

Estimation Of The Duration Of The Tasks

The duration of each task of the project adds up to the length of time it will take to complete a project.

Resource planning tools can help in this resource planning step by managing billable hours for freelancers and employees. Workforce management software can manage the project team, match employees to assignments, and handle billable hours documentation, budgeting, and payroll allocation.

Duration of tasks affects financial resources as well as the time the project will take. Since some tasks are dependent on earlier tasks being completed first, delays in tasks can derail a project’s progress toward completion.

Analyze Other Previous Projects To Adapt Your Plan

Smart project managers will compare their work breakdown schedules with those of similar projects. This leads to effective resource management and can help project managers avoid errors.

Learning from experience by studying the resource planning and results of earlier projects will result in better outcomes for current and future projects.

Be Aware That You Will Have To Make Adjustments To The Plan

No project planning should be set in stone. Conditions change, so differences in price and availability of materials must be accounted for. Weather conditions can lead to utility outages that can put projects behind schedule. Delays in tasks may result in deadlines being adjusted.

Project managers will need to adjust their WBS plans to account for changes in the project management landscape. Resource planning software can make these changes easy since it will apply changes throughout the entire project, from resources to budgeting.

Keep Track Of The Project

Project plans are not written and forgotten. Project managers must track projects throughout the project life cycle. Resource planning tools, including project management software, can make tracking progress simple through the use of Excel Gantt charts.

Projects that are monitored for performance and progress are usually completed on time and within budget, leading to profitable project portfolios.

Afterward, Analyze The Outcome

Increasing the project management body of knowledge is essential to improvements in resource planning. Analyzing the outcomes of projects and the resource utilization planning behind them will provide lessons in how the management of future projects can be improved.

Learning from project outcomes leads to better project management and more accurate resource planning for future projects.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Benefits Of Resource Planning

The benefits of resource planning are myriad, but perhaps the efficient use of time and money tops the list. Time is a finite resource and should be well managed. Projects that run past their deadlines are usually unprofitable.

With efficient resource planning comes the availability of all resources needed for project completion without overallocation.

Resource planning clearly will boost the profitability of projects and the firms completing them. Through proper resource planning, an accurate project budget can be set up and tracked. The best resources will be available when needed and at the best prices.

Resource management also considers the employees and freelancers with the skills needed to complete the project on time and according to specifications. This also results in an accurate project budget and a project team that will complete the project. Resource planning will ensure that the employees best suited to the project will be assigned to it.

Tracking and analysis of projects and the resource planning behind them will lead to successful resource planning in future projects.

Resource planning leads to profitability in project portfolio management. Not only does resource planning contribute to providing the best resources for quality results, but it also increases overall profitability.

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