The core purpose of a resource management plan is to set expectations. You must account for every task in a project—no matter how big or small—and determine what resources need to be secured to complete each task.
That is why creating a concrete plan is the most important part of the resource allocation process. Knowing what you need to carry out a project before it begins is the only reliable way to deliver it on time and budget—without straining your team or falling short.
Want to create an effective resource management plan? Then, read on: we’ve put together an essential guide to get you started.
What is a resource management plan?
A resource management plan is a detailed proposal for allocating, managing, and monitoring resources needed to complete a project.
The term “resources” in project management often refers to people (or, more accurately, people availability and skills), but it can also include:
- Office space
- Software and hardware
Project managers and resource managers may sometimes distinguish between a human resource management plan and a physical resource plan.
How accurately can managers plan for future human resources needs?
It’s possible to forecast how many people you’ll need in the future by using projected growth, future goals, turnover rates, average capacity, and more.
If things change and new needs present themselves, however, your resource management plan will change too. It’s important to review and re-evaluate it constantly.
What are the components of a resource plan?
A resource plan (or resource management plan) contains six primary components:
- Project resource needs (including physical resources)
- Number of people needed and capacity (e.g., weekly work hours)
- Selection criteria for people (e.g., skillset) and vendors (e.g., budget)
- Roles and responsibilities
- Available budget for resources
- Metrics and monitoring process
Your finalized plan should have specific information about all of these components. Here are some questions you should ask prior to getting started:
- What are the physical resources needed for each task?
- How much of the physical resources will we need during the project?
- How many people do we need to employ for the project? What will be their work contract? (employees, freelancers, part-time, etc.)
- What are the skillsets we’re looking for, and who has which?
- Where will we acquire resources?
- When will each resource be needed?
- What are the costs we need to account for?
- How will we monitor resource allocation over time?
How do you create a resource management plan?
You’re probably wondering how to create a resource plan based on the components and questions above. Looking at the big picture, there are four questions you need to answer:
- What do I need?
- What do I have?
- How do I get what I don’t have?
- How do I organize it all?
Now, let’s get more specific! Here are six steps to developing your resource management plan:
1. Ensure you’ve settled on requirements
The requirements of the project will inform your resource management plan. When something changes, your resource planning is affected. Try to avoid this (at least initially) by ensuring the project is well thought out.
For example, review the project timeline, deliverables, and the project management method (e.g., waterfall or agile). Build the work breakdown structure—including every task needed to complete deliverables and what they entail.
Also, it’ll be a massive help to flesh out roles and responsibilities early on for the people you know you’ll need. Here’s an example:
- Role: Lead Developer
- Responsibility: Design architecture and development framework
2. Make a list
Now it’s time to ask: “What do I need?” What better way to answer this than with a list? Before you can allocate, manage, or release your resources, you need to know what they are.
This view is called a resource breakdown structure (or RBS) and it’s a hierarchical representation of categories and types of resources. It’s essentially a list of everything needed for the project that will cost money. To create the full project plan, you’ll need to combine the RBS with the work breakdown structure.
Start by listing what’s needed. You can categorize resources however it makes sense for your organization. For example, you might have three designers listed under design resources, which is itself categorized under the creative discipline. And so on.
Also, use any format that works for you and your team. It could be a spreadsheet, or you can use a design tool for visualization (e.g., Invision). If you don’t have all the information yet, you can also add placeholders to fill later.
If you or your organization has had experience with similar projects in the past, don’t hesitate to look into them as well—both the planning phase and the eventual resources that were needed.
3. Coordinate with your team and gather information
Sync with all stakeholders involved in the project to gather information. For example, you can decide whether or not your team has the capacity to take on all of the workload themselves, or if you need to hire new employees or contractors. Your team may also help you settle on the quantity of each resource that is needed.
You can also discuss milestones, tools, and vendors, as your team may have specific ideas or experiences that can come handy. Incorporate this information into your RBS.
You should also use this step to dig into limitations. For instance, if you have people who only work 20 hours a week, can you assign overtime to them if needed? Are the people with the skillsets you need currently operating at full capacity? Take a close look at your teams’ schedules (including time off and parallel projects) to see if there’s anything that may cause a conflict.
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4. Get buy-in from other stakeholders
This step will help you put together any constraints for a project. To budget a project, you need the finance team’s help. To hire people, you need recruiters or the HR department to lead. IT will tell you about software and network requirements, while your operations team can determine space, material, or other elements.
Staying on budget is particularly important. Is the finance team open to a flexible budget? How do you ask for new financial resources if the need arises? What reports do they need and when (especially if the project spans months or years)?
5. Align resources with project
Once you know the resources you need, you can allocate them to specific tasks. Project scheduling also comes into play here, as you’ll need to assign resources across the entire project timeline. Make sure to set the right expectations by organizing tasks and dependencies (e.g., by using a gantt chart).
A resource management software like Float will make your life much easier, especially when it comes to your most important resource: people. You’ll be able to view everyone’s availability and assigned tasks and monitor their progress over time. You can see your team’s upcoming time off at a glance to plan around, and get a visual indicator of when people are being overutilized.
6. Plan to procure resources
You should now have a good idea about what resources you need, and it’s time to start gathering them. The first step is communicating your resource management plan to team members who will participate in the project.
It’s also the time to find contractors, vendors, source equipment, build contracts, set budgets, and determine any terms and conditions you’ll use. Put everything in one structured document, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide resource management plan!
The right plan for the project
A good resource plan creates transparency and accountability for the entire project. You’re better equipped to monitor and manage resources over time and make sure you’re using them to the best of their abilities.
Just remember to keep a close eye on things, and don’t be afraid to finetune whenever needed. Happy planning!