There are lots of pieces you need to put together to make any project successful—and none is more important than your team who is working on it. 

That team—your people—are known in project management speak as resources. 

And managing how you want them to spend their time on projects in your pipeline can mean the difference between a productive team and an overworked one. 

According to the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession 2018 study, only 60% of organizations regularly use resource management techniques to organize their resources. The study also found resources that are limited or overbooked are among the top reasons that projects failed. 

Simply put: resource management gives your projects a better chance of being successful. 

Having a plan to allocate, manage, and forecast what your people will be working on not only means you can make sure you have enough people for every project in your pipeline—but also those that are working won’t get burned out. 

In this piece, we’re going to break down:

  • What is resource management?

  • What are the benefits of using resource management?

  • How one agency ditched spreadsheets and email threads for real-time resource management

  • 3 resource management techniques to boost productivity

Ready? Let’s get planning 👨‍💻

What is resource management?

Resource management is a way to plan and manage how your resources will be used in projects and forecast how many will be needed for upcoming tasks so you can deliver work on time and on budget. 

Having a resource management plan allows project managers to track their resource capacity, project schedules, and utilization rates. In return, they can make sure they have enough people to work on every task and that their team isn’t overworked in the process. 

Now, people aren’t the only resource you need to manage. You should also consider other resources you’ll need for projects, like: 

  • Hardware equipment

  • Facilities

  • Software 

  • Budgets 

  • Time

But if you break all of these resources down, they fall into three categories: materials, people, and cost. 

We think your people are the most valuable resource you have. You can’t replace them if they break down, and you can’t clone their unique skills. It’s crucial that you carefully plan how you’ll allocate their time and energy on every project so they’re productive and happy.

What are the benefits of using resource management?

Benefit #1: It prevents burnout

Every person on your team is so much more than a number—they’re an asset with skill sets that help your company deliver projects. 

However, if their time isn’t managed correctly, it is hard for them to work productively and produce their best work. PMI’s 2018 study found one of the biggest problems for project managers was sticking to project timelines. Effective resource management helps you avoid this by alerting you to overloaded calendars so you can reallocate workloads and prevent burnout. 

It can also:

😃 Keep your team happier and more productive by giving them realistic schedules that they can work with—and avoid being stressed out.

💵 Make sure everybody’s calendars are weighted evenly and keep resources working at maximum productivity to get projects delivered.

👀 Help project managers track schedules and fill empty spaces on a resource’s calendar while avoiding doubling up someone else's. 

There are other reasons that you should keep an eye on your team’s capacity, too. If your team is already working on a project for a client and they ask for another feature to be added or for it to be delivered early, you need to give them a yes or no answer. 

The best way to avoid overloading your team’s calendars is by using a resource management tool that tracks everyone’s capacity. For example, Teamwork uses each team member’s working hours (which are set in their profiles) to calculate how much work is on their schedule and how much time they have to spare. 

If somebody is overbooked, their profile will be highlighted in red. To reallocate tasks and free up their workload, all you need to do is drag and drop.

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Benefit #2: It helps predict problems

Even the best project managers find it hard to predict problems once a project kicks off. 

Your best shot is to have a resource management plan in place. A plan can breakdown every day (or even hour) of the project, so you know what everyone will be working on and help you avoid a lack of resources before the project even starts. 

Think about everyday issues that can knock a project off track. What if a team member is ill during a project? Or quits? 

Resource management makes it easier to factor in these issues by allocating buffer time to tasks or creating a contingency plan to fill the resource gap. For example, a simple trick like leaving everyone’s capacity at 80% if an extra task pops up can stop a project from derailing. 

Having a plan can also help predict budget problems by allocating a resource’s rate in their profile. If your software engineers cost you $100/hour and the project’s budget is $5000, you can forecast before a project starts that you only have 50 hours of their time to allocate without going over budget.  

Simple!

Benefit #3: It helps you allocate the right resources

Picture this: you get a project request from a client and, after a quick scan of your calendar to check resource availabilities—you book it in. 

It seems great, right? Not unless the people that had free time on their calendars actually have the skillset to complete the project’s tasks. 

Resource management stops these kinds of situations before they happen by allowing project managers to filter and sort through resources to see if they have the right skill sets to work on a project. Using a tool like Teamwork, project managers can quickly filter through resources based on their skill set to see if the right people have space on their calendars before taking it on a new project. 

Here’s a quick look at how it works:

Having an accurate view of how many people are working on a project, who they are, and their skill sets is a valuable part of any resource management plan.

How one agency ditched spreadsheets and email threads for real-time resource management

Like many companies with a resource management plan, B2B digital marketing agency Pravda Media Group once tracked its workload using a mix of status meetings, spreadsheets, and email trails.

The problem wasn’t just that this approach was scattered and drained a lot of the team’s time. It was impossible to have clear communication for each project and see what everyone was working on. 

So, the team invested in Teamwork to manage its resources. 

CEO Kfir Pravda says the team now schedules projects in Gantt charts and uses Notebooks to store meeting notes and plans. He also uses the tool’s filters feature to analyze a project’s health by tracking resource allocation, potential bottlenecks, and budget projections to ensure everything is staying on track. 

“Now I’m able to do what I call ‘proactive mentoring,’ because I have transparency with tasks and progress, I’m able to jump in and give them guidance on everything from client interactions to troubleshooting,” he says. We’re not wasting time finding information, or trying to figure out next steps, or get status reports of other people’s work. We’re all 100% aligned now and working at full power, pushing ahead towards a clear goal.”

By managing his resources, Pravda knows when a team member’s schedule is overbooked or if a project is running late because everything is monitored in real-time. 

3 resource management techniques to boost productivity

It’s clear that resource management is a powerful way to track project progress and predict problems. So, it’s time to look at some techniques you can use to implement resource management into your workflows. 

1. Allocate resources using data 📊

Allocating resources means taking a deep dive into the numbers. 

Start with your resource allocation reports to get a birds-eye view of where people are working, how full their schedules are, and what projects need their resources re-evaluated. 

Imagine that you are working on a project for a client and it’s nearly done. The team is running behind, and the first test of the software is only two days away. A quick look at the project’s schedule shows that the two software designers working on the launch actually need three full days to be ready for the software test. 

What do you do? 

You can’t add any more work to the two software designers’ schedules, as they are already working at full capacity. So, you need to search your team’s availability to see if someone else with the right skill set can have their calendar reshuffled so they can work on the urgent task. 

If everyone’s calendar has a buffer, these issues can be resolved before they derail a project. It’s essential that whenever you plan a project, you always create a contingency plan and leave some breathing room in everyone’s schedules in case a task is running late, or a client asks for some extra features. 

It’ll save you a lot of headaches while ensuring the project is still delivered on time.

2. Level up your unused resources 🙋‍♀️

Project management is a constant juggling act to make sure everyone’s schedules have an even workload. 

However, it’s easier said than done, and it’s normal to have underutilized resources. You can fix by using a technique called resource-leveling. First, search for any underused resources in your team and then quickly check that they’re not: 

  • Working on other tasks

  • On a vacay or off sick

  • Asleep because they’re in another time zone

If they’re not, it’s a sign that their calendars are being underutilized, and it’s time to fill ‘em up. 

Consider that the resource may be underutilized because their skill set isn’t being taken advantage of. For example, if you have a graphic designer on your team and their schedule is looking a little empty, take a look at their other skills. 

Can they create content or flex their product promotion skills? 🤔

If so, allocate them some tasks like writing blog posts or brainstorming ideas to promote a new product or service. Not only will you be making the most of their underutilized calendar, but it also prevents you from having to hire more staff to take on the extra tasks 👌

3. Track every budget 💰

The more resources you use, the more the project will cost. 

Staying on budget is one of the hardest parts of project management, with less than 60% of projects sticking to their original budgets. Forecasting exactly how many people you’ll need to complete a project is just one part of the puzzle. You also need to keep a project’s scope in check while predicting unforeseen problems and risks. 

The good news is that with the right resource management tool, these tasks become a lot easier. Using Teamwork, you can create project budgets based on: 

  • Billable time

  • Non-billable time

  • Billed time

  • Unbilled time

Once a project kicks off, each time a team member logs time working on it, it will be automatically deducted from the budget based on their rate. You can then check on the health of the project’s status from inside the Teamwork dashboard:

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Tracking budgets like this has two benefits. 

The first is that you will understand how profitable each project is by tracking your team’s billable time. You’ll then have the information you need to make data-backed decisions about which high-value clients to prioritize and make room in your team’s schedules. 

The second benefit is transparency. The more you track your project budgets, the more accurate future proposals will be. Not only will you be able to give your clients a better idea of what the project will cost, but you can also provide them with a more accurate timeline of when they should expect it to be delivered. 

Ready to start managing your resources?

Figuring out a way to manage your resources is like an initiation—no matter how big or small a company is, they’ll go through it. 

The question is, what resource management path will you take?

While some agencies can use a mix of spreadsheets and email threads to manage their team, there is a better way to plan your projects. With resource management software, you can see overbooked team members, get alerts if a task is behind schedule, and shuffle resources if a project budget is about to be blown. 

The best part about resource management software is that it takes your mind out of manual spreadsheets and puts it where it needs to be—with your team and your clients.

Ready to get started with resource management? Read more about how Teamwork can help your company here.