The issue of project resource management, aka resource planning, is increasingly gaining importance – and becoming ever more complex. Why is this so? For one thing, it is because generally the demand for suitable staff is greater than the supply currently available. Additionally, the list of required qualifications these people are expected to have is evolving ever more rapidly.
In the following sections, you will learn about:
- Definition: What is resource management?
- Why is project resource management important?
- What are the benefits of resource management?
- Areas of project resource management
- Additional articles with practical suggestions
Let us now take a look at the issue of resource management as it relates to project management.
Definition: What Is Resource Management?
Resource management, aka resource planning, is a key element of project management. It ensures that a project has access to the necessary resources (staff, facilities etc.) at all times. It is very closely related to the development of schedules and cost plans.
Why Is Project Resource Management Important?
The goal of every company is to reach its objectives with as little effort as possible. “Resource planning in project management”, or simply “project resource management” (we will use these two terms synonymously in this article), helps companies achieve this goal.
Knowing what resources are required for current and future projects helps you plan more effectively. You can use the available resources more economically without overburdening them, and you can proactively procure any missing resources (think: skills) ahead of time.
Want to learn more about the challenges of project resource planning? Read this.
What Are the Benefits of Resource Management?
Here are some of the key benefits of project resource management:
- More reliable planning: It is easier to avoid bottlenecks if you identify your resource needs early on. You can also calculate and plan the availability of people with the necessary skills. Doing so provides greater reliability at all levels.
- Fewer overloads: Individuals and teams that are in high demand often suffer from an excessive workload, and having a clear overview of your resource utilization helps avoid this problem. This leads to greater job satisfaction and employee retention, as this article in German explains.
- Well-documented: If your project fails due to missing resources, having good documentation can help you prove that your resource planning made the best possible use of the available resources. It provides a valuable lesson for future projects.
Areas of Project Resource Management
TPG The Project Group, on the other hand, identifies only three levels in project resource management:
Here we explore the differences.
Strategic Resource Management / Capacity Planning
- Encompasses the long-term planning of staff qualifications and capacities
- Ensures that current and future projects representing the company’s strategic focus can be accomplished
- Identifies what resources must be procured and what competencies are missing. (Someone – generally a portfolio manager – also needs to obtain up-to-date information from the project managers on what qualifications (skills) are currently needed and ask the team managers about the availability of people with the necessary qualifications.)
Tactical Resource Management / Coordination Project + Operations
- Encompasses the medium-term establishment of project teams, which requires ongoing coordination between the project managers and team leaders on the availability of staff for project work and general operations.
- Team leaders provide project managers with the requested resources having the necessary qualifications for their projects.
Operational Resource Management / Work Planning
- Encompasses the project manager’s ongoing detailed planning of the allocated resources to the individual projects at the task level
These tasks, and their interdependencies with regard to roles, are depicted in the following graphic:
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Results for Resource Planning from the PMO Survey 2020
The extensive PMO Survey 2020 investigated the most important areas of responsibility in 330 companies with PMO. In the participating companies, resource management is the least established area of responsibility compared to the other PMO functions.
According to the results of the survey, PMOs with fewer than 3 members are in a decidedly worse position for resource management than PMOs with more members. The number of responses stating “Improvements are planned” is only slightly higher for PMOs with more members. However, the share of responses stating resource planning was “Well-established” are at least three to four times as high.
Resource Management in Projects
13% have operational resource planning (task planning in the projects) in place and respond that this is well-established without need for changes. 28% have it in place but are planning further improvements. 14% are planning to start in the following 12 months, and almost half the respondents are not going to establish operational project resource planning at all.
The support of resource planning in projects clearly has a huge impact on project success which the top performing PMOs deliver best.
Further Relevant Articles with Detailed Information and Tips
Here are some brief descriptions of further articles about project resource planning on this blog.
Get an introduction to a new way of resource planning, starting with the team leaders.
This article illustrates the fastest way to introduce tactical resource planning at your company. It guides you through the process in 6 detailed steps.
This article deals with finding the best processes for ensuring good coordination between the project managers and the team leaders.
Learn about the challenges faced by the three levels of project management resource planning: strategic, tactical and operational.
The article “Resource Conflicts in Projects – Can Agile Planning Reduce Them” explains why phased regular collaboration is the key to avoiding resource conflicts in project management.
This article explains the four key steps to introducing successful strategic capacity planning in project management.
In the article “Specificity in Resource Planning”, you will learn about the role of specificity and completeness in resource planning for project management.
Competency management and skills management are an advanced form of resource planning. This article discusses their primary advantages from a strategic and tactical-operational viewpoint.
The use of project plans for the planning of resources is increasingly being replaced by a combined plan involving the projects (rough planning) and operations (detailed planning). You will understand why after reading the article “Resource Planning: Software for the Roles Involved”.
The article “Arguments for an Optimal System for Tactical Resource Planning” will give you a brief insight into anticipated trends in resource planning. In the course of digital transformation, more and more people will be working on projects. This means that their supervisors will need to develop strategic and tactical plans for their teams to handle this. Project resource planning will therefore grow in importance.
With an easy-to-use tool such as TPG TeamManager for resource planning in SharePoint, small companies as well as large enterprises have a complete overview of the resources available in every team and department.
Since the Server version 2016, Microsoft Project Server and Project Online, has included an additional feature: Resource Engagements. This feature provides a direct communication channel between project managers and the team leaders and / or department heads responsible for managing the resources. The article “Using Resource Engagements in Microsoft Project” explains, step by step, how to use this feature to coordinate the use of resources between projects and operations, and also the new feature’s benefits and limitations.
13. Customer Solutions for Project Resource Planning
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What has been your experience with project resource planning? Is there a critical aspect that you feel we have missed? We look forward to receiving your comment!
After earning his engineering degree in environmental technology, he gained many years of experience in project management through his work at an engineering office, an equipment manufacturer, and a multimedia agency. Achim Schmidt-Sibeth and his team have been responsible for marketing and communication at TPG The Project Group for many years now.
Johann Strasser (certified engineer, has been a managing partner at TPG The Project Group since 2001)
Johann Strasser Certified engineer, has been a managing partner at TPG The Project Group since 2001. After many years as a development engineer in the automotive and energy sectors, Johann Strasser spent a decade as an independent trainer and consultant in the field of project management. During his tenure, he also served as project manager for software projects in the construction industry and provided scheduling and cost management support for large-scale construction projects. At TPG, he applies his expertise in product development and consulting services for international clients. His special focus is on PMO, project portfolios, hybrid project management, and resource planning. For many years now, he has shared his knowledge through presentations, seminars, articles, and webinars.