Project Resource Management – Basics and Areas for Beginners


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:

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

Gartner divides project resource planning into five distinct areas as shown in the following graphic.

Project Resource Management – resource management responsibilities by Gartner
Types and responsibilities in project resource planning

TPG The Project Group, on the other hand, identifies only three levels in project resource management:

  • Strategic
  • Tactical
  • Operational

Here we explore the differences.

Free Download: How to Manage Tactical Resource Management (eBook)

How you make resource coordination between project and line management work smoothly: lots of practical tips and checklists on how to set this up quickly yourself (Processes & Tools).

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.)
The three levels, and the roles involved, in company-wide project resource management
The three levels, and the roles involved, in company-wide project resource management

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:

The interplay between the levels in project resource management
The interplay between the levels in project resource management

Special Download: Resource Planning Software for the Roles Involved (PDF file)

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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.

Activities and satisfaction concerning the resource management support by the PMO (source: PMO Survey 2020 by TPG, n=330)
Activities and satisfaction concerning the resource management support by the PMO (source: PMO Survey 2020 by TPG, n=330)

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.

How established is resource planning in projects in companies with a PMO?
How established is resource planning in projects in companies with a PMO? (Source: PMO Survey 2020 by TPG, n=330)

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.

1.   Resource Planning by Team Leaders – Processes & Methods

Get an introduction to a new way of resource planning, starting with the team leaders.

2.   6 Steps to Resource Management – How to Introduce Tactical Resource Planning Quickly

This article illustrates the fastest way to introduce tactical resource planning at your company. It guides you through the process in 6 detailed steps.

3.   Processes for Resource Planning Process & Requirements

This article deals with finding the best processes for ensuring good coordination between the project managers and the team leaders.

4.   Project Management Resource Planning – The Challenges

Learn about the challenges faced by the three levels of project management resource planning: strategic, tactical and operational.

5.   The Keys to Successful Agile Resource Planning

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.

6.   Capacity Planning in Project Management

This article explains the four key steps to introducing successful strategic capacity planning in project management.

7.   Providing the Right Degree of Detail and Planning in Resource Management

In the article “Specificity in Resource Planning”, you will learn about the role of specificity and completeness in resource planning for project management.

8.   Skills Management – Benefits, Challenges, and Applications

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.

9.   Resource Planning Software Requirements in a Project Environment

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”.

10.  The Optimum Resource Planning Solution: How to Convince Your Stakeholders

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.

11.  Tactical Resource Planning with SharePoint

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.

12.  Resource Requests in Microsoft Project

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.

Please send us your feedback!
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!

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Johann Strasser, The Project GroupJohann Strasser
Managing Partner at TPG

The 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 management. For many years now, he has shared his knowledge through presentations, seminars, articles, and webinars.

Read more about Johann Strasser on LinkedIn and XING.

Achim Schmidt-Sibeth
Senior Marketing Manager

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.

Read more about Achim Schmidt-Sibeth on LinkedIn or XING

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  1. Hello, pleas advice
    what addition do we need to be able to utilize and enable resource management in R&D organization as per this article.
    We have complete Microsoft Project infrastructure, what do you offer and what do we need in addition to this.

    Senior PMO
    Aviat Networks

    • Bettina von Staden on

      Thanks a lot for your question, Gasper! I have forwarded your request and e-mail address to the colleagues best placed to answer your question.

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