Managing resources effectively is one of the most critical yet challenging aspects of project management. Resources include people, equipment, materials, budgets, and time. Without proper resource management, projects can go over budget, fall behind schedule, or deliver poor quality results. In this post, we’ll explore some of the common resource management challenges project managers face and tips for overcoming them.
Key Resource Management Challenges
- Unclear Roles and Responsibilities
A common mistake is not clearly defining team members’ roles and responsibilities from the start. This leads to confusion, duplicative or missing work, and resources being used inefficiently. Project managers need to work with team leads to create clear roles and responsibilities aligned to project objectives. A RACI matrix can help map out who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed for each task.
- Unrealistic Scheduling
Creating overly aggressive schedules that don’t account for resource constraints is a recipe for failure. Project managers need to work with team leads to develop realistic timelines based on availability, budget, dependencies, and capacity. Padding schedules with buffers can help absorb unexpected issues.
- Lack of Visibility into Resource Utilization
Not having real-time visibility into how resources are being utilized makes it hard to identify and correct inefficiencies. Project management software with resource management functionality can provide utilization views and help balance workloads.
- Changing Priorities and Scope Creep
When business needs change or scope creeps, resources need to be reallocated. This can be disruptive if not managed well. PMs need to clearly communicate changes, reset expectations, and work to minimize impact.
- Unreliable Estimates
Inaccurate estimates lead to improper resource plans, missed deadlines, and cost overruns. PMs need to work with teams to create estimates based on data, track/learn from estimate accuracy, and build appropriate buffers into plans.
Resource Management Best Practices
- Define Resource Management Processes Upfront
Document processes for acquiring, allocating, and monitoring resources. Include stakeholder approval checkpoints.
- Build Resource Management into Project Plans
Dedicate time for resource planning during project planning. Detail how resources will be identified, allocated, managed, and released.
- Track and Optimize Utilization Use capacity planning and project management tools to track utilization and workload. Look for ways to balance and improve utilization.
- Communicate Expectations Clearly Provide teams with clear guidelines on project objectives, timelines, budget, quality needs, and availability expectations.
- Empower Team Leads Give team leads insight into team capacity and authority to assess requests and negotiate priorities.
- Develop Contingency Plans Identify spare or alternative resources that can fill in if key resources become unavailable. Have a plan to secure or shift resources if needed.
- Monitor and Refine Continuously monitor resource allocation and make adjustments as priorities or needs change.
Effective resource management takes planning, communication, and adjustment, but pays huge dividends in improving project execution. Following the best practices outlined above can help project managers anticipate and resolve resourcing issues — enabling projects to hit their targets and deliver exceptional results.