The ultimate guide to people-centric resource management for healthy, happy teams

Resource management is a juggling act. With 20 balls. And they’re all on fire. But this guide makes it easier (we promise).

Graphic illustrating resource article




Summary: effective resource management prioritizes people over projects, ensuring everyone’s time is both valued and used effectively. When team members’ strengths and skills are managed correctly, they can feel inspired to do their best work and avoid being overworked or burned out—and your business automatically benefits.



Let’s make sure you’re in the right place. If you regularly find yourself:

  • 🧐 Planning projects by determining feasibility, costs, and skill requirements
  • 🛠️ Assembling a team with the necessary skills to complete the project
  • 📋 Tracking project progress and monitoring budget spend
  • 💲 Quoting and billing clients for project work
  • 📈 Using business intelligence data to inform decision-making 

this guide is for you.

You might be an operations manager, project manager, or traffic manager by title, but if your responsibilities include one or more of the above, you’re our definition of a resource manager.

The discipline seems simple enough. In practice, it’s anything but. We’re here to help you make sense of it all.

Resource management: a people-first definition

Resource management is the process of centralizing your database of people skills, roles, and rates across an organization to plan and allocate resources to projects. It involves understanding your resource requirements then planning their utilization, assigning tasks, monitoring progress, and adjusting allocations to avoid project delays and guarantee completion.  

If you think that sounds a little clinical, you’re not wrong, and we agree. That’s why at Float, we use a slightly different definition—one that puts people at the core of resource management:

Effective resource management is the process of finding the right people for a job, allocating them to the perfect-fit project, and identifying strengths or skill gaps so teams can deliver their best work in an environment that feels energizing and inspiring.

People are a company’s most important asset—but if you’ve ever tried organizing a dinner with more than five friends, you know they can also be one of the trickiest to manage. Unlike the physical resources you can move around your office at will, team members require communication, compassion, and care.

A healthy team means a healthy business, with less turnover and overhiring. People, in turn, can commit their best efforts to meaningful, engaging projects that value their time without overworking them. Of course, this best-case scenario doesn’t just happen. It’s a direct result of the thoughtful resource management practices you implement.



“We are like a link connecting people—and when we do it well, our team members are happy and productive.”


<pull-quote-author>Maike Jahnens, Head of Financial Operations and Capacity Management at Scholz & Friends</pull-quote-author>


Your role and responsibilities as a resource manager

Resource managers work closely with project managers, department heads, and other leaders to adequately staff projects and drive the desired project outcomes.

While many professional services businesses have a designated resource manager who typically sits in operations, organizations may also operate without a designated people planner role. In these cases, ‘resource manager’ is a hat people wear as and when needed, and the responsibilities are often shared across several individuals and teams.

Being responsible for any resource management activity means you’re likely collaborating with people across the entire org, and getting everyone to align is no small feat. As a resource manager—by title or by function—your to-do list probably includes the following:

  • Keeping an eye on resource availability to answer common questions like “Can we take on this project?”, “Do we have the team for the job?”, and “How much will this cost us?” 
  • Balancing over- and underallocation to ensure team members have enough to do without being overworked or at risk of burnout
  • Building a deep understanding of your people and their skill set to assemble dynamic teams capable of taking on a range of projects
  • Communicating openly to understand if team members need a break after completing a significant deliverable, if they want to take on new challenges, or if they are dealing with personal challenges
  • Maintaining a healthy network of contractors to call upon when internal resources are unavailable
  • Minimizing context switching and administrative tasks by maintaining proper documentation and introducing the right organizational tools


Pro tip: you need an efficient resource management tool in your stack

You’re probably already using a dedicated project management tool like Trello, Asana,, or ClickUp to measure the number of tasks assigned to someone on your team—but resource managers (and any professional services businesses) also need something else: the broad overview of which team members are available for future projects (and when), and a dynamic understanding of what they are working on right now and also next week, month, and quarter.  

You can usually get some of this information with spreadsheets, but as your team grows past 10 people, you’ll likely discover that you need a dedicated resource management solution (like Float, hi 👋) to complete standard tasks like: 

  • Tracking team roles, rates, and departments
  • Searching for specific team members using fields or custom tags
  • Setting work hours, auto-adding regional holidays, and managing time off
  • Accessing and editing a live timeline of everyone’s availability and capacity 
  • Shifting and editing project timelines
  • Setting budgets for upcoming projects to determine spend
  • Tracking time and planning capacity by hour or percentage

In other words, a resource management tool is for all your foundational, centralized plans that help you understand what your team is working on, where you’re allocating resources, and where you’re invested in as a company.

Once you have this bird’s-eye view, you can get more granular in your project management tool.

🔎 For a detailed look into the different solutions and their value propositions, check out our comprehensive list of 11 popular resource management tools.


6 crucial functions of the resource management process

1. Capacity planning

  • What it involves: determining whether the team members you’ve identified for an allocation can, in fact, take on the work
  • Why it’s necessary: accurate capacity and resource planning ensure team members have a manageable workload and that their deliverables are spaced out and aligned with their ability to execute
Some teams plan capacity by hours, others by percentage—a flexible resource management tool like Float lets you do both

2. Managing time off

  • What it involves: working closely with project managers and other stakeholders to manage time off for team members 
  • Why it’s necessary: being aware of vacation or sick days within your team ensures on-time delivery won’t suffer when one teammate is away (and that team members feel comfortable taking time off when they need it)

3. Performance management

  • What it involves: accessing information on whether allocations were completed successfully, and if there were any challenges
  • Why it’s necessary: if deliverables were completed successfully, you might allocate these individuals to similar projects in the future; if there were challenges, you could work closely with their managers or the individuals themselves to improve the process for next time

4. Skills tracking

  • What it involves: tracking your team’s skills and experience in real time, including junior-, mid-, and senior-level skills, rates, platforms, and client or team feedback
  • Why it’s necessary: collecting and maintaining this information helps you make confident decisions about assigning project work to the right team members


How the people planning pros do it: Scholz & Friends

Keeping up with dozens or even hundreds of team members’ skills is virtually impossible—unless you’re using a dedicated resource management tool (it’s us; we’re the tool.)

At global advertising agency Scholz & Friends, the capacity planning team must have a bird’s-eye view of 200+ distributed team members’ skill sets. The easy solution? Using Float to add skills tags to every team member, so they can find the right people for a project in seconds.

“With Float, you can just click to find a motion designer or a copywriter, and you immediately have a list of everyone across all offices. You quickly know who speaks English and who speaks Spanish, and you can help out if someone is in need of a specific skill set.”

- Maike Jahnens, Head of Financial Operations and Capacity Management at Scholz & Friends


The Scholz & Friends team uses tags in Float to filter by skills and languages

5. Revenue tracking and forecasting

  • What it involves: working with management to review budgets for upcoming projects
  • Why it’s necessary: if a project is over budget, resource managers can assess and make decisions to course correct—like assigning a project to an internal resource instead of an expensive contractor

6. Utilization tracking

  • What it involves: people planners track utilization to determine how much of an individual’s time is billed to a client. (Pro tip: a healthy utilization target should account for internal meetings, sufficient context-switching time, and a realistic number of projects.)
  • Why it’s necessary: if utilization is too low or too high, you may need to work with team members to make adjustments and ensure they’re not under- or overworked

5 resource management techniques you’ll use

Obstacles like unplanned requests, unrealistic budgets, and conflicting schedules will inevitably show up during a project. These resource management techniques usually help you lessen their impact on project outcomes.

1. Resource leveling

The resource leveling technique shifts schedules so projects are completed with the available resources. People planners use resource leveling to prevent overallocation and handle resource constraints. For instance, if an engineer is out sick for most of the week, the project schedule is adjusted by moving the end date forward to accommodate their sick leave.

👉 Learn more about resource leveling

2. Resource smoothing

Resource smoothing is a technique that optimizes project resources without changing the project’s end date. It involves adjusting the project schedule without making changes to the total project duration. Instead, all adjustments are made using slack—the extra time available between tasks and the end of the project.

👉 Learn more about resource smoothing

3. Resource forecasting

Resource forecasting is a resource management technique that involves predicting upcoming resource demands at the start of a project. It helps resource managers understand future projects’ requirements and ensure they remain on budget. To forecast accurately, having the right reports in place is crucial.

👉 Learn more about resource forecasting

4. Resource allocation

Resource allocation is about identifying the best (and available) people for a specific project and deciding what percentage of their time to allocate to it. It ensures people are working on the right project at the right time and at the right capacity, so they can deliver fantastic work every time. (A similar concept you might have heard of is resource loading, which involves filling team members’ available hours with project tasks.)

👉 Learn more about resource allocation

5. Resource scheduling

Resource scheduling involves assigning tasks to team members based on their availability and skill set. By considering their workload and capabilities, you’ll prevent burnout and maintain a healthy, happy team.

👉 Learn more about resource scheduling


How the people planning pros do it: BuzzFeed

At digital media and entertainment company BuzzFeed, things move fast. Their agile team creates a consistent stream of quizzes, videos, and takes on pop culture that reaches millions of people daily.

BuzzFeed’s post-production team is responsible for editing the raw footage that goes into producing its video content, and teams can be juggling anywhere from 100 to 200 projects at a time. How do they do it? (Hint: it’s not with spreadsheets.)

The team’s resource management tool (it’s Float!) gives Leah Zeis, BuzzFeed’s Senior Director, Production Operations, a centralized view of important project data, like the overall project timeline and the deliverables. From here, Zeis and the post-production team coordinators kick off resource allocation and scheduling in Float.

“It’s in Float that we start creating and assigning the editing tasks and resources to get the project delivered. We add information like the project due date and budget so that at a high level we can see what our resource capacity and availability is to schedule the right team for the job.”

- Leah Zeis, Senior Director, Production Operations at BuzzFeed


BuzzFeed team members at work

How to manage your resources efficiently

Step 1: conduct scenario planning for the upcoming period

To begin, create a resource management plan outlining your project's scope, budget, resources, activities, and workload requirements. This plan can also include a resource breakdown structure that visually represents what resources are needed and what you have. 

Asking the right questions (during the project planning phase and team meetings) can help estimate resources. These include:

  • What skills do we need to deliver this project?
  • Who are the best people to work on it? 
  • How much time will it take to complete the project? 
  • Who should be allocated to what tasks? 
  • Are there any task dependencies? 

In general, it helps to deliberate about the project estimation process. This will help you better understand what resources are needed and estimate costs more accurately.



“Once a week, we have a virtual capacity planning meeting with account managers and creative directors, in which we go through projects in Float to see team workloads and availability and answer important questions like: Is this project properly planned? How much time can we allocate to tentative projects without blocking confirmed projects? Can we predict how much work is coming in?”


<pull-quote-author>Maike Jahnens, Head of Financial Operations and Capacity Management at Scholz & Friends</pull-quote-author>


Step 2: allocate the right team to the role

Once you have a project plan in place, assemble a team of the right people for the job.

Resource tracking is vital to monitor availability and avoid double-booking team members. A resource management tool like Float lets you filter and sort team members by skills and capacity to determine who is best suited for upcoming projects. You can also schedule tentative projects and tasks to estimate timelines and plan accordingly.

Remember to plan ahead and send out resource requests beforehand. This way, if a resource is unavailable, you’ll have enough time to find an alternative.

Step 3: manage and support your team 

Actively manage your team to help projects progress as planned. This includes handling conflicts, tracking performance, providing feedback, laying down communication ground rules, and celebrating milestones. 

Automate processes as much as possible with tools like Slack or Loom for async communication, resource management tools like Float, integrations with tools like Zapier, and documentation software like Notion. 

Your ideal tech stack will be unique to you and your business, but it’s crucial that the tools you choose help you work smarter.


How the people planning pros do it: Atlassian

At software juggernaut Atlassian, dozens of requests for the company’s in-house creative team flood in every week, from every direction. 

Senior Creative Resource Manager Emily Feliciano initially relied on project management tools, meetings, and feedback from her team members to gauge capacity—but she quickly realized this approach was unsustainable.

“When you have an internal team with no set hours and no set budgets, it becomes very challenging to track the amount of work someone is doing, how much effort they’re putting in, and at what point we should start to be concerned with their utilization—whether they’re underutilized or overutilized.” 

- Emily Feliciano, Senior Creative Resource Manager at Atlassian

She convinced her team to adopt Float as a resource management tool to present data on capacity in an efficient, digestible way that anyone on the team could understand at a glance.

Float helped increase the Atlassian production team’s on-time delivery rate from 40% to a staggering 90%—something Feliciano believes wouldn’t have been possible without a dedicated resource management tool.


Emily manages a team of 50+ creatives in Atlassian’s marketing department using Float

Why businesses need good resource management practices

Most full-time employees work eight hours every day—but that doesn’t mean they have eight hours available for project-based work. Thoughtful resource management acknowledges the time needed for non-project work, like meetings and admin tasks; it also involves assigning projects people find equally enjoyable and challenging and ensuring nobody has too little (or, worse, too much) on their plate. 

Do this well, and your team members flourish. Plus, you’ll get these additional benefits:

  • Preventing burnout and turnover: taking a people-first approach means being intentional about project work and assignments, and keeping an eye out for burnout and lack of motivation. Resource management helps you ensure your team’s workload is balanced and sustainable, automatically putting their capacity to good use.
  • Delivering projects on time: for professional services businesses, success is more than on-time delivery, but resource management goes a long way in helping you avoid project delays or bottlenecks and eliminate guesswork when working on deadline-driven projects. A clear view of your team’s capacity and workload helps you give team members enough time to complete their tasks and deliver projects on deadline.
  • Staying on budget: resource management helps streamline project work and optimize your team’s time. By assigning the right people to the right tasks and maintaining efficient workflows, you can minimize wasted time and expenses and deliver projects within budget.
  • Increasing profitability: good resource management helps you put together the best possible project team for each client. When team members are working to their strengths (and sufficiently rested), they’ll be in the perfect position to optimize their billable hours and maximize project profitability.
  • Improving cross-functional collaboration: a project’s success is always impacted by how well your team works together. Good resource management facilitates collaboration by giving teams an accurate view of all scheduled work and helping them understand their impact on the project and their teammates. 
  • Monitoring utilization rates: resource management helps you understand how team members spend their time, revealing if anyone is working above or below their capacity. This helps you identify inefficiencies and optimize your team’s productivity while ensuring everyone is well-rested and neither over- nor underutilized.




Learn more about the importance of resource management to successful people planners here 👉 “No more ‘flying by the collective seat of your pants: 11 people planners discuss the benefits of resource management”.



10 challenges of resource management

If you’re in—or even adjacent to—the resource management space, you’re likely no stranger to the more headache-inducing parts of the job. The resource management challenges you’ll have to overcome to keep your team running smoothly are an unavoidable side effect of people planning—but difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

Here’s a breakdown of the 10 biggest challenges you might (...will!) face as a resource manager:

  1. Managing and balancing heavy workloads: when team members are overwhelmed, they can’t do their best work, and business might suffer
  2. Gauging resource capacity: capacity is hard to determine and track, so ensuring that team members aren’t under- or overallocated is a delicate balancing act
  3. Lacking visibility into resource utilization: when you don’t know what your team is spending their time on, you can’t accurately assess workloads, potentially resulting in overworked team members 
  4. Keeping track of skills: effective skills tracking is vital, but staying on top of dozens (or hundreds) of team members’ strengths is challenging, especially in growing organizations
  5. Navigating changing project requirements and priorities: constantly reassigning team members to different tasks requires a significant amount of context switching, increasing their cognitive load (and yours, too)
  6. Planning around unrealistic project deadlines: if your team consistently struggles with on-time delivery and feels pressured to pack too many tasks into one day, their workplace well-being is jeopardized
  7. Identifying optimal time-tracking methods: when you don’t have a clear picture of how much time your team spends on work, you risk inaccurately billing clients for projects
  8. Negotiating resources: double-booking and schedule conflicts inevitably result in stalled projects and an unclear division of responsibilities
  9. Finding the right tool to manage your people: there are dozens of tools to choose from, but only one of them can be the best option for your organization
  10. Overcoming reluctance to adopt new technology: getting team members on board to learn a new tool when they already have a lot on their plates is a tall ask—but the benefits can be company-changing




For solutions to all of the above, tested and proven by real resource managers, head here 👉 “10 headache-inducing resource management challenges (and how the pros solve them)”.



Start solving your challenges with Float’s Projects report, which provides an overview of all your projects, so you can monitor your utilization and budgets, track your time, and see your project totals at the client level

Effective resource management tips and tricks

1. Choose the right resource management tool for your team

Every growing business reaches a point where spreadsheets just won’t cut it. The bigger your team or the more complex your new project, the more resources needs you’ll have to juggle. Consider factors like budget, features, and user skill level when choosing a tool—it’s the first and most important step to effective resource management.

A resource management tool like Float helps you visualize your team’s workload, plan projects, manage capacity, and schedule tasks and time off with ease

2. Facilitate check-ins

Regular check-ins with your team help you stay on top of priorities and course-correct as needed, contributing to efficient resource management. 

By listening to your team’s feedback and concerns, you can proactively adjust your project scheduling, forecasting, and resource leveling. Check-ins also create a human connection and allow team members to share challenges, vent frustrations, and ask for help.


Pro tip: the right tools are vital to stay on top of your team

Is your team async or distributed? Use collaborative tools like 15Five, Loom, or Slack to keep one another updated in your own time and meet project goals.


3. Share documentation and priorities 

With so many tools and documents in use, it’s important to make sure everyone is aware of what everyone else is working on.

Resource managers should work with project managers and organization leaders to ensure the team has documentation in place. Collaboration and cross-training enable multiple team members to support new project activities, making assignments interchangeable and reducing the risk of not meeting project goals.

4. Take a people-first approach

Resource managers should prioritize people over projects. This means putting the team’s long-term best interests first and leading with empathy. 

Here are some things you can do to foster efficient resource management that’s also people-first:

  • ✅ Be proactive. Assess whether timelines make sense, whether capacity conversations are realistic, and practice active risk management. As you gain experience, you also hone your intuition around what’s practical, and you can push back to plan further if there is uncertainty.
  • ✅ Be honest. Be transparent around utilization goals and prioritization, so the team takes ownership of its capacity. By creating social norms around discussing utilization, individuals can raise their hand when they need help or step up and help someone else.
  • ✅ Be empathetic. Lead with empathy to fully create a safe space around listening to challenges and collaborating to solve them.
  • ✅ Be a problem solver. A strong problem solver will consider several factors about a new project and the team to make strong recommendations that have a significant impact.
  • ✅ Be a communicator. Be clear to ensure that directions or recommendations around project deliverables and timelines are understood without adding confusion or stress.





📚 Everything (else) you need to know about resource management 

You’ve just made it through an extremely comprehensive resource management guide—but the learning doesn’t stop here! We have so much more to share with you 👇



[fs-toc-omit]Ready to manage your team resources better?

Managing team resources can be challenging, no matter the size of your organization. But with the right tools and tactics, it doesn’t have to be tedious or overwhelming. 

Resource management software like Float lets you automate the essentials and make informed decisions about your team’s workload. With features like budget tracking, capacity management, and drag-and-drop scheduling, you can easily visualize how to get your projects done on time and within budget.




Try the #1 rated resource management software

Float is the #1 rated resource management software on G2 for planning projects and scheduling your team’s time.

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A few FAQs about resource management

What is resource management?

Resource management is the process of centralizing your database of people’s skills, roles, and rates across an organization to plan and allocate resources for projects. It usually involves planning individual resources, allocating tasks, monitoring progress, and adjusting how resources are allocated to avoid project delays.

Why is resource management important?

The benefits of resource management include less turnover, better cross-functional collaboration, higher rate of on-time project delivery, more accurate estimates, and, most importantly, happier team members.

What is a resource management tool?

A resource management tool automates several functions of the resource management process, enabling you to plan, schedule, and track your team’s time visually. Try the number one-rated resource management tool, Float, for free today, and start effortlessly:

  • Tracking team roles, rates, and departments
  • Searching for any person using a field or custom tag
  • Managing work hours, regional holidays, and time off
  • Shifting and editing project timelines to meet project requirements
  • Setting project budgets to determine spend
  • Tracking time and planning capacity by hour or percentage
  • Viewing and editing a live timeline of everyone’s availability and capacity