To complete projects successfully, you will need an effective resource management plan. With the right plan in place, you’ll be able to manage schedules, handle procurement, meet deadlines, and deliver a successful project to a happy client.

So how do you create a resource management plan? And what are the benefits? Keep reading — we’ll explore it all below and give you an easy step-by-step guide to get you started.

Essential items to include in your resource management plan

If you’re reading this, you’re probably ready to start building your resource management strategy. To create a resource management plan, there are a few pieces of information you’ll need to gather first. You’ll find the essentials below.

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A complete list of resources

You can’t plan resources if you don’t know which resources to account for, so this is the first step. Here are some of the things that count as resources:

  • Human resources: A.k.a. the people on your team. Include not only employees, but contractors and freelancers, too. Be sure to jot down the hours they’re available each day or week, plus their skill sets.

  • Tools and equipment: This includes computers, mobile devices, printers, software, and more.

  • Project budget: This is the money you have available to pay for wages and resources you don’t already have in house.

  • Facilities: This is an often overlooked, but highly important resource to track. Office space, recording studios — these things will come out of your budget one way or another.

  • Time: When you account for time, you should include the overall project timeline and how much time it will take to complete specific tasks.

Depending on the physical resources you already have available or project specifics, you may need to add a few things to the above list. However, this list is broad enough to give you a solid starting point as you figure out what other resources your individual projects require.

If your team is struggling with project planning specifically, you’ll need to take things a step beyond resource management. Try Teamwork’s project planning software to simplify your project planning and make it more impactful!

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A detailed schedule with time frames

You may not need to lay out tasks by due dates just yet (that can come a little later in the process), but you should outline each task needed to complete the final deliverables. For each task, list information like how much time it will take and the skill sets required to complete it. From there, you can start organizing tasks into a project schedule complete with due dates.

An outline of team members’ roles & responsibilities

You need to outline roles and responsibilities for two reasons. First, defining them minimizes conflicts or potential chaos. With this kind of transparency, project team members will know what they’re responsible for and what isn’t part of their duties.

Second, defining roles and responsibilities will also let everyone know which tasks they need to complete, which enables you to schedule resources and help team members organize their calendars.

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A section on potential challenges & contingencies

In a perfect world, projects would always go as planned. But, this isn’t a perfect world, and recent research from Wellingtone shows that only 29% of projects are completed on time — indicating that things rarely go as planned.

This is why challenges and contingencies are crucial to resource management. In fact, you could consider it good risk management. Building in buffer time to account for delays, or extra dollars in the budget to factor in potential cost overruns ensures that you always have available resources despite the unexpected. This means that you can deliver projects complete, on time, and on budget to keep clients and stakeholders coming back for more.

A step-by-step guide for creating a resource management plan

Once you’ve gathered the information above, it’s time to start fleshing out your resource management plan. If you’re just getting started, use the steps below to build a methodology that fits your specific organization and the types of projects you do most often.

1) Figure out exactly which resources are needed

By now, you should have a list of available resources, so it’s time to figure out which specific resources you’ll need to complete a project. For this, you’ll need the project's specifics — the tasks you’ll need to work through to produce the deliverables.

It’s also helpful to access information from similar projects your team has done in the past. This should provide details about resource allocation for those projects, plus successes you can emulate or failures you can avoid.

As you start this, use resource management software to help lay everything out. Software that lets you create a plan wireframe (with places to track all the resources you need to manage) will keep things organized and easy to view.

2) Match resources to specific assignments or tasks

This part of the planning process mainly involves team members and their specific skill sets. Use your resource management tool to go over tasks and match them to the people with the right skills: graphics design to designers, content creation to your creators, software development to your engineers, etc. This will help make sure that you use the right resources at the right time as you head into the next step.

3) Create a resource schedule or calendar

Now that you’ve allocated your resources, it’s time to create a calendar. Part of good resource utilization means avoiding overallocationand underutilization. Start by plotting out tasks in the order they need to be completed. Then, if you notice some team members are overloaded or have sparse areas in their schedules, you can manage teamworkflow by shifting tasks around to make everyone’s workload a little more even.

4) Launch your resource management plan

With the first three steps completed, it’s go time. Launch your resource management plan by officially assigning tasks and notifying everyone of due dates and other specifics. Suppose you’re using project management software with resource management capabilities. In that case, you should be able to notify your team from within the software so they can see calendars and tasks and a big picture view of the project scope.

5) Track and monitor the effectiveness of your resource plan

You’re not done yet. Even though the most significant part of the decision-making process is complete, you’ll still need to track and monitor your plan throughout the project lifecycle. Consider this to be a measure of prevention: Tracking the efficacy of your resource plan will let you spot potential problems before they get too large. Check in regularly, and make adjustments on the fly to keep your project moving smoothly.

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6) Get feedback and make adjustments as needed

Keep an ear on the things your team members are saying, too. Do certain team members feel like there is too much on their plate? Burnout is a big issue — one that was classified as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization in 2019 because it’s something so many people face. If you start to see signs of employee burnout, this is when you should use resource leveling or other measures to lighten the load.

Consider the following: Are there workflows that could be more efficient? Or do you have team members with underutilized time who could use that time to develop new skills? One example might be a graphic designer who wouldn’t mind learning to create blog posts or helping with market research.

Whatever feedback your team gives you, consider it well and see what adjustments you can make to refine your resource management as you go.

Benefits of an effective resource management plan

Creating a resource management plan sounds like a lot of work, right? It can be — but it’s also a critical component of an effective project management plan. Manage resources well, and you and your team will reap big benefits.

Reduces the chances of unexpected resource shortages

Ever found yourself staring at an organization chart, wondering who could pick up an extra task that you hadn’t accounted for? Or that awkward meeting where you have to explain why your project is running over budget? Yeah, no thanks — we'll pass.

Resource management reduces these problems because it forces you to examine potential resource needs in depth before project kickoff, which helps to forecast your needs more accurately.

Prevents the overallocation of work and scope creep

Allocating resources and creating schedules before project kickoff makes you take a close look at resource availability. Those insights help you prevent overallocation among team members. A carefully designed schedule will prevent staffing issues and allow for buffer time in everyone’s schedules just in case you need to take care of unexpected or emergent tasks.

It also helps you prevent scope creep. When clients or stakeholders start adding things to the project, you’ll be equipped to show them how the additions will require more resources than initially planned for. This empowers you to work with clients on a solution that suits both your organization and theirs.

Provides a safety net for project issues or failures

Clients will request changes, team members will call in sick (or even quit sometimes, but let’s not jinx it), and other issues like random server outages will crop up along the way — all of which have the potential to really derail your project. When managing project resources well, you should have backup plans and contingencies to keep the project on track despite those potential problems. It’s a safety net that ensures you can maintain project progress and keep it within the budget — even when the unexpected happens.

Helps measure project effectiveness

Save schedules, spreadsheets, notes you’ve made throughout the resource planning and management process, and all information related to your project. This way, you can measure the project’s effectiveness once it ends and look back at it to see what went right and wrong. These are lessons that you can carry forward into future projects.

For example, let’s say you look back on a project to discover that the bulk of the billable hours went into engineering, but only a few went into content creation for marketing purposes, so your content creators had a lot of time with very little to do. This tells you that on future projects, you’ll need to find additional tasks to fill their time, or you may instead want to hire freelancers for skills that require fewer billable hours.

Gives foresight on potential roadblocks

The contingency and backup plans mentioned above are invaluable — but if you’re keeping a real-time eye on resources, you should be able to forecast potential roadblocks before they happen.

Imagine you have a project primarily in the engineering stages at the moment. The engineers are on track to finish on time, but your marketers are starting to get nervous because they haven’t gotten the information they need to prepare marketing materials for launch day. A bottleneck is on the horizon, one that could end up delaying launch because your marketers got the information they needed late and still need time to complete their tasks.

With resource management, you should be able to spot problems like this before they interfere with project work. From there, you can work with team members to see what can be done so everyone can move forward.

Ensures visibility & transparency of current projects

One of the best ways to facilitate teamwork is to provide as much transparency and visibility as possible — and resource planning does that. If you’re using software that lets everyone see the project and project resources as a whole, individual team members can work together to build schedules and keep things flowing.

And that’s just for one project. When your team is working on multiple projects, transparency lets you prioritize more efficiently. It also gives you the visibility to spot projects or tasks that are lagging so that you can see how to get them back on track.

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Manage your team effectively with a resource management plan by Teamwork

Ready to get started with resource management? Teamwork is a great tool that can help you get started, whether you’re new to resource management or have an established plan. Find out how our platform can help you forecast resources for short- and long-term projects and get a better handle on team member workloads.