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Masooma Memon

How to Create a Resource Plan for a Project in 5 Steps

If you want your projects to be successful, you need to get the right people lined up for the work. Make this possible by creating a resource plan: here's how.

Have a handful of projects in the pipeline with a high probability of closing? Get ready by creating a resource plan for them.

Being resource-ready increases your project success rate by minimizing the time it takes to start work, as well as improving the odds of completing the project within its defined budget and timeline. Preparing now means that you're less likely to hit scheduling conflicts and resource constraints in the future.

Not sure how to create a resource plan for a project? This handy guide packs in all the answers. 

What is a resource plan? 

By definition, a resource plan is a document or resource blueprint that identifies, organizes, and structures resources involved in a project.

Preparing it in the early stages of your project planning makes sure you have the right resources to work on the project. Namely, it means that you've ensured that resources: 

  • Will not be overworked or over-utilized
  • Will be available to complete project tasks within the project duration

Crucially, it also allows you to check that the project can be resourced adequately within the parameters of the project budget.

Not to mention, a resource plan also shows project managers where resources are lacking. This, in turn, assists them in hiring part-time contractors or freelancers with the needed skillset — more on this below.

Further reading ➡️ Getting Resource Planning Right: A Holistic Guide 

The elements of a good resource plan

A thorough resource plan aims to strike the balance between the best people and the project criteria. To this end, it must match people to projects based on the following factors:

  • Role. What job will the required resources be completing?
  • Rate. Do their rates align with the defined project budget?
  • Skills. Do the shortlisted people have the necessary skills to complete deliverables?
  • Seniority. Based on the project’s complexity, what level of seniority of folks do you need?
  • Team. What is the total number of people working on the project and who will be reporting to/collaborating with whom?
  • Location. Do team members need to be in the same city? Can they work remotely?
  • Availability. Do the selected resources have the bandwidth to take on the tasks you’re planning to assign them during the defined project schedule? 
  • Cost. What is the cost of the software and other resources the project team may need?
  • Employee Preferences. For example, does a specific employee want to join this project to learn a new skill?

How to create a resource plan in 5 steps

Although it may seem like a resource plan is additional work on your plate before the project even kicks off, it is essential for driving project success. It cuts back risks — helping you start things off on a strong note.

The good news is: it doesn’t even take very long to create a resource plan for a project (and it takes even less time if you have an up-to-date skills inventory at the ready).

Let’s walk through what it takes to create the resource plan for your project:

1. Plan out a project 

Begin with reviewing the complete project scope including budget and time available.

Next, break the project down by major milestones. Then divide milestones or project stages into tasks — bracketing each with budget and time: a task called tentative project scheduling

This gives you a full breakdown of all required work and by when (timeline).

In so doing, you’ve created a list of tasks that help you identify the resources you need for completing different deliverables.

The best part? Use an interactive project planning software like Runn. Here, you can break down projects into milestones, add duration to each milestone, add duration to each task, and track the project budget — all in one workspace.

This saves you from planning projects in different documents. It also improves collaboration with stakeholders by giving you a visually engaging breakdown of the project at hand.

2. Determine the resources needed for a project

With a full breakdown of the work required to take the project to completion, make a list of all the required resources.

The resources needed will depend entirely on the project. For instance, for an app development project, the required resources might include developers, product designers, copywriters etc.

For each resource category, add the number of people you need, their desired seniority level (depending on the project’s complexity), and client budget.

Also, keep the project delivery dates close by for step three so you can check the new project team’s availability. 

3. Create a comprehensive resource inventory

Start looking for people who have the right skill set, experience, and availability to take on the project. They also need to be within the set project budget, so you don’t end up going overboard.

Admittedly, all of this can be time-consuming, especially as you do it for each project. Plus, having visibility into available resources is no easy task. In fact 41% of resource managers admitted to struggling with visibility into available resources.

The solution? Make a resource inventory and revisit it each time you make a project resource plan.

Not only does this save you time but also simplifies resource planning for multiple projects.

Essentially, a resource or skills inventory is a list of all the resources, their skills, and experience levels. You can reference it to find people with the right skills for different projects. 

Now if you’ve been resource planning in Excel, your resource inventory can live there as well. However, Excel-based resource planning isn’t free from some serious shortcomings though. For one, it’s time-consuming to maintain the sheet — taking significant manual work. 

Two, it’s vulnerable to human errors. And lastly, it doesn’t scale, and can easily break. For example, a small typo or simple formula error can prevent all the formulas in your spreadsheet from working properly.

Fortunately, a resource planning software like Runn offers a viable solution here as well. The resource inventory you create with Runn features everything from the employees’ skills and interests to their availability and day rates.

Not only does it make it easy to identify the best-fit people for new projects but also helps you quickly see whether those people have enough time to take on the new tasks (without having to manually check in with them).

This, in turn, improves your resource utilization rate. And by ensuring you allocate resources only as much work as people can optimally manage, you can also keep employee burnout at bay.

At the same time, with employees’ up-to-date day rates available in the inventory, you can quickly and easily tell if their rates are aligned with the client’s budget.

Most of all, with your human resources planned in Runn, all project managers can get a bird’s eye view of the available resources - reducing the need for time consuming, unnecessary meetings.

4. Add resource requests

It’s quite likely that some of the resources you'd like to assign to a project will be unavailable when you need them — requiring you to look for alternatives as the project commences.

In such a case though, you can use a placeholder resource for the time being, which will help you see what the resource constraints facing your project might be. 

In Runn, you can associate a placeholder with a specific role, meaning that the skill requirements and the charge-out rate for this resource will be captured in your plan, even if you don't have a particular person in mind yet to fill this position.


As the project gets the green light, this placeholder information makes finding the right part-time or freelance contractor simple, as you've already defined the skills and capacity requirements required.

Learn more: how placeholders can be used in a resource request workflow ➡️

resource request

5. Review and reflect when a project ends

Every time a project wraps up, take some time to reflect on how effective your resource plan was and how well it helped you.

This way, you can identify inefficiencies in your resource planning process, saving yourself from making the same mistakes again.

It also helps to keep a list of high-performing contractors with you so you can hire them again when the need arises instead of looking for new ones all over again. 

Key takeaways

A sound resource plan can make a huge difference in your ability to complete a project on time and on budget. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve both of those things without a good resource plan. 

That’s why project resource planning should be a standard part of preparing for any project. It’s best to make your plan well in advance so you can lock in the resources you need. The longer you wait to book resources, the more likely it’ll be that someone else is using them.

Don’t treat your plan as the finished product though.

Plans always change, and it’s ok to make adjustments. The important thing is that you have one, and you will see just how beneficial it is when you do. 

Finally, resource planning works best when your organization also engages in capacity planning. So if your senior managers aren’t on board with that yet, it's time for you to educate them.

Most of all, resource planning doesn’t have to a time-consuming manual labor work. Instead, a resource planning tool like Runn eradicates the legwork associated with managing resources in a constantly changing environment. 

Get started with a free 14-day trial today and see for yourself ➡️

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