Arguments for an Optimal System for Tactical Resource Planning


It can be a challenge to convince project stakeholders of the necessity for a new resource planning solution. The article 6 Steps to Resource Management has introduced you to the requirements for introducing successful tactical resource planning at your company. If you like this approach and would like to employ it, you will have to get the roles involved on board. That is:

  • decision-makers
  • team leaders
  • project managers

This article will provide you with the necessary arguments. At the end, you will also find an outlook on the future of resource management.

Note: By “tactical resource planning” we mean the coordination between project and line managers. This depends on the company’s form or organization (matrix or line). The goal is to meet the requirements for resources with the necessary skills for projects in a timely manner using staff from the line. This tends to be the team leaders’ task.

Sometimes, roles need to be established at the beginning of a project – Learn more about the Role Clarification Workshop.

Arguments for Team Leaders

Let us begin with the arguments for team leaders.

On the one hand, team leaders are positioned between their superiors and the project managers. On the other hand, they are responsible for managing their team members.

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With their team, they are expected to complete as many line and project activities as possible. Ideally, the team members’ utilization is always optimal, without overload.

Team leaders need to be knowledgeable at all times when confronted by decision-makers, project managers and team members. This applies to information regarding the utilization of their team or of individual team members.

What team leaders are better at

A suitable and sophisticated system for tactical resource planning would allow team leaders to plan, demonstrate and argue better:

  • What capacities / availabilities their team has
  • What capabilities / skills their team and its members have
  • On which projects their team is currently working
  • How much time they have scheduled for team meetings and general operations
  • What the team’s basic load is and what it is composed of
  • Who can go on holiday at what time and who will stand in for them
  • Who will pursue advanced training, for how long, and in what areas
  • How good their team’s utilization will be in 6, 12 or 18 months’ time
  • Whether further tasks will have to be created or taken on
  • Which team member has which knowledge gap regarding the team knowledge
  • Who still requires what training to make it possible to distribute tasks better eventually
  • Which training or re-training has to be completed by what time in order to take on tasks to come
  • Who can work on new projects; and when

More detail on the Challenges of Tactical Resource Planning in this article.

In addition, such a system would support the team leader in:

  • Proving that additional requests from the projects have to be rejected, as there are no free capacities in the team
  • Recognizing overload situations for the team or individual members
  • Figuring out how the overload of some team members can be remedied
  • Understanding which team members have comparable qualifications allowing for a replacement or reallocation
  • Realizing what effects project postponements would have on the team utilization and how to reschedule to mitigate the changes

On top, such a system would provide the team leader with:

  • Meaningful overviews of the utilization through project activities and operations
  • An overview of the project commitments in relation to the project requests
  • A simple proof of the urgent need for further resources on the team
  • The possibility to enter data changes in the tool
  • The possibility to easily carry over data from the project managers’ system and to transport their own data to the latter for information
  • Their own database for team planning without having to interfere with the project managers’ planning

Looking to introduce resource management fast and well? Read this article.

Arguments for Project Managers

Project managers have responsibilities entirely different from team leaders. This is why the arguments for them turn out differently.

Project managers need to deliver results. Depending on the form of organization, they need to rely on the support from:

  • teams (line organization)
  • people on the teams (matrix organization)

In both cases, they depend on reliable commitments from the team leaders.

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A sophisticated system for tactical resource planning would allow project managers to see better:

  • Which teams have which qualifications
  • What team can take on what work package, and when
  • Which team can provide how many people with the required qualifications, and when
  • Why a specific employee does not have more time to spare for their project
  • Who stands in for the colleague committed during his or her vacation
  • How the commitments from the team can be compared to the current project planning
  • How commitments from the teams have changed

Besides, a suitable tool supports the communication between project manager and team leader about required resources well. The tool enables a good documentation of commitments.

Find out more about the necessary features of an optimal resource planning tool.

What is more, a team leader cannot change the data in the project managers’ planning. Provided the team leader does not have to work with the tool for project management. For, ideally, both roles work in separate systems. The team management software merely compares their contents.

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Arguments for Decision-Makers

Among other things, decision-makers have to ensure one thing. In the medium to long term, enough suitable staff needs to be available to implement initiatives and projects. To this end, they require an overview of all teams as well as their current and future utilization.

In many companies, this is not limited to one location. It may even be an international endeavor. And in such a case, it can only be handled by involving the team leaders and the project or portfolio managers.

A sophisticated system for tactical resource planning would allow decision-makers at the company to see better:

  • The aggregated utilization across all teams in all areas
  • How fully engaged the teams in the different departments are; and what they are busy with
  • Which capabilities / skills are available in which locations and which are missing
  • What requirements for capabilities / skills are coming from the projects
  • Which projects it would not be possible to equip adequately with what capabilities / skills
  • Where staff with what specific capabilities will have to be hired, re-trained or reduced

These are our lists of arguments for the three most important roles in a company’s resource management. Now, let us take a look ahead. How is resource planning going to evolve?

Outlook on the Resource Planning of the Future

The maturity level of project management continues to increase. The same goes for the project management appreciation or rather acceptance.

The desire for more autonomy is on the rise among employees, especially from the younger generations. All of this combines to bring together aspects of the agile and the traditional PM methods.

Agile, Traditional or Hybrid PM Methods? When to use which approach.

The combination of team management at project or rather sprint level and the independent detailed planning within sprints or phased work packages will lead to a higher planning quality in the future. Accordingly, the reliability of scheduling and result planning is going to increase.

For this, there will be new tools or new features in existing tools. These will prompt a significant increase of flexibility in planning and controlling. At the same time, resource planning will become easier.

Interested in Resource Planning in Project Management? Check out this post.

The use of integration middleware can be a first step in this direction. These connect classic PM tools with tools for planning to-dos or action items (e.g. Jira integration).

Such an integration can have the following beneficial effect. In the Gantt charts, you only plan the sprints for resource requests and the milestones for the deliveries. The many detailed to-dos whose resource planning can drive the project manager to desperation disappear.

This is a possible scenario for the future:

A less detailed project planning by the project manager is complemented by a matching detailed work planning. The latter is made by the team members committed by their team leaders for the respective sprint.

Moreover, digital transformation finds its way into many new areas of companies. This requires the involvement of further people in projects to implement this strategy.

Thus, more people will be working on projects in the future. There will be members of teams contributing to projects who have hitherto not done so. Their team leaders will have similar requirements to meet as their colleagues from the classic areas of project handling. They will have to commit team members or results to projects.

Read interesting case study on International Resource Management at KARL STORZ.

So it will become necessary for these team leaders, too, to plan the team’s internal activities more accurately. Otherwise, they will not be able to organize the team members’ engagement in projects.

Therefore, tactical resource planning will soon spill over into almost all areas in companies of all industries. No industry is exempt from digital transformation. There will be more IT projects everywhere and accordingly more requirements for resource planning, across all departments.

Conclusion – Arguments for an Optimal Solution for Tactical Resource Planning

This article has provided you with arguments for a solution for tactical resource planning. These you can use in discussions with stakeholders such as:

  • team leaders
  • project managers
  • decision-makers

You have also gained an insight into the likely development of resource planning. In the course of digital transformation, more and more people will be working in projects who have hitherto not done so.

Their superiors will also have to plan for their teams now, both strategically and tactically. This is why the topic of resource planning is becoming more and more important.

Do you think the above arguments would carry weight with your stakeholders? Do you agree with the outlook on the future of resource management? Please leave a comment below.

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