If you are in charge of a project or leading a team, there’s a good chance you are practicing resource management without even knowing it. Think back to your last project. You probably identified tasks to be done, found people with the right skills for each one, confirmed their availability, and then assigned them tasks.
Resource management is all of these things and more.
Effective resource management helps you leverage workers’ skills and time efficiently while taking into account their availability. It is an essential part of project management. Without it, you will likely run out of the critical elements needed to complete the project or use your resources inefficiently.
This short guide (you’ll be done in 5 minutes, we promise) will explain what resource management is and why it’s important to your business.
What is resource management?
Resource management is the process of putting resources (people, time, money, and equipment) to efficient use.
Depending on your organization, you may only manage some of the resources listed above. For example, an operations manager at a power plant may be in charge of the budget, people, and equipment, while a project manager at a media company may manage a team of creative people. In every case, managing resources involves:
- Planning individual resources
- Allocating tasks
- Monitoring progress
- Adjusting how resources are used to avoid delays
Keep in mind that resources are finite and will run out if they are not used efficiently. Your team members have a limited amount of time they work each day (e.g., 8 hours), and you need to help them make the best use of it.
Let’s take a look at some everyday examples of resource management:
- As a design team lead at a creative agency, you manage over 20 designers and allocate tasks to them. You keep tabs on their progress and determine if you need freelancers to help with projects. You ensure your team members working across projects are not overstretched.
- As the founder of a small consulting firm, you are familiar with the skills and strengths of each team member. You match them to projects that make the best use of their abilities. You ensure they avoid working long hours and live their best work life.
What challenges does resource management solve?
When working on a project, you must make decisions that impact the budget, capacity, and time. Getting this right is hard when you don’t have all the information.
Resource management provides you with the data needed to make the right decisions. It also supplies processes and techniques to use your resources well.
According to the PMI Pulse of the Profession report, 12% of projects in 2021 were unsuccessful. A failed project can be a very stressful experience—all that time and energy gone with nothing to show for it!
Effective resource management can reduce some factors that cause project failures like inaccurate resource forecasting, wrong time and cost estimates, and reduced resource availability.
Resource management requires you to identify capacity and availability in the planning stage. When done right, you can spot possible gaps and request more support where needed.
Inaccurate capacity planning and forecasting
Can you think back to when you thought you had enough time to get something done, only to realize later that you were wrong? We’ve all been there.
Sometimes managers overestimate the capacity of team members and put too much on their plate. In fact, 74% of workers in Float’s Global Agency Productivity Report said that they were overbooked at least once a month😱!
Resource management software helps you visualize your team’s workload, spot conflicts, and monitor time off to avoid overallocation issues.
Overallocation and underallocation
According to a recent study from Asana, one in four workers experiences burnout four or more times a year. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed is common enough that 40% of respondents said they think it is part of success.
Burnout is so widespread that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognizes it as a syndrome that results from improperly managed workplace stress.
As Rebecca Knight observed in this article for Havard Business Review, high performers—people who always get their work done—are often rewarded with even more work.
As a result, they may become overwhelmed, less efficient, and less engaged in the workplace. On the flip side, underutilization leaves other team members on the bench for too long without using their skills.
Resource management techniques like resource smoothing and leveling balance both sides by ensuring everyone is allocated work within their capacity.
Benefits of resource management
Proper resource management improves the efficiency and happiness of workers, increases project success rates, reduces costs, and provides accurate time and cost estimations. Here are some additional benefits you can expect to see:
- Reduce employee churn and increase efficiency: Less overtime means a happier and more productive team.
- Decrease project failure and client churn: Setting realistic deadlines from the start makes it easier to manage any unexpected roadblocks. You also have enough capacity to deliver projects on time and within scope.
- Increase profitability: By tracking project costs, you know when you’re close to running over budget and can adjust the use of resources as needed.
- Improved forecasting: Resource management is data-driven. Using a resource management tool, you can track time and compare scheduled hours with actual hours worked. With this information, you can create accurate project plans for future projects.
Learn more about resource management
Resource management is critical to balancing project success with the well-being of workers.
With resource management software, you can ensure your team is working on the right tasks at the right time—without getting overwhelmed. It also provides the data you need to set accurate project budgets and timelines.
Now that you understand the basics of resource management, check out our complete guide to resource management to learn even more great techniques.