Effective project resourcing is essential for successful project delivery and meeting one project deadline after another. It also boosts client satisfaction and, in the long run, your business’s reputation.
Most of all, project resource management makes sure all employees are working to their maximum potential without feeling burned out.
In essence, it’s a resource manager’s key to avoiding overloading teams, increasing team productivity, and ensuring project success.
Not to mention, when a project manager has a strong grip on the resources needed for a project, they can assign specific tasks to employees who are skilled at them—all while bringing more resources on board as required.
But here’s the thing, perfecting project resourcing is an ongoing process. And it’s not limited to assigning specific tasks to available resources. Instead, you need to create and gather feedback on your processes, keep tabs on when employees are due to take their holidays, and what a client’s requirements are.
So in this guide, we’ll help make it all easy for you by taking you through 9 proven lessons to master project resourcing.
Managing resources effectively relies on understanding stakeholder requirements including ones they aren’t voicing out loud.
As you read between the lines and communicate requirements and expectations, take the time to understand the project’s requirements too. This is crucial for making the best decisions for ensuring your team completes the project well and on time.
Listening to both your stakeholder and project requirements will also help you better understand the resources you need to best accomplish the work at hand.
Planning is table stakes for effective project management and resource management — even if it seems like another time-sucking task on your to-do list.
Instead of planning everything out mentally, pull up a fresh doc for each new project. This helps you:
But before you plan for the project, plan for yourself. Start with listing down everything you need to do to identify, manage, and oversee resources.
Pro tip: Create a checklist of everything you need to do for resourcing before a project begins. Use this list as your reference to-do list for kicking off resourcing for all new projects. If you find all projects are unique and a single checklist won’t do, use this one as your master copy. Then add or subtract items from it as needed.
With this plan ready, break down all the work that’d go into the project. Next, cover key areas that we’ve recommended in our beginner’s guide on project resource management:
This is often swept under the rug. But knowing your team’s key skills, interests, and past projects they’ve worked on speeds up project resourcing for you.
Your inventory could be anything as simple as a Google sheet or something as interactive as using a resource management software such as Runn.
Add the following to this inventory:
Essentially, such a record of resource skills not only helps you assign the best fit resources for a project’s success but also helps with their professional development — which is an essential aspect of resource management.
Pro tip: Track interests and other details of not only internal employees but external contributors you work with. This way, you’ll know who to reach out to quickly should you need additional help.
On the surface, the resource allocation process is based on knowing resource skills and project requirements so you can tie the two together for a creating high-functioning project team. Add in resource availability and it seems everything’s covered.
Except there’s more to the picture and it can be summed under one term: resource utilization. This helps project managers put out fires caused by employee burnout and schedule clashes to ensure everything runs smoothly. It also helps you make sure all the resources are used to their optimal capacity.
So how can you use resources optimally? Create a resource calendar to see employees’ availability, bank holidays, workloads at any given time (day, week, or month), and leaves of absence.
Reference this calendar each time you work on allotting project activities. In doing so, you can assign work based on resource availability (review both their current and future worklog) — all while keeping burnout at bay (by not booking them when they’re going to take time off).
Both internal and external resources can give a project their best when they know what the project’s goals are and what’s required.
So instead of giving them bite-sized information covering work required from them, give them a full overview of the client and project requirements. This way, they’ll have the full picture and contribute to it accordingly.
The best part? Project documentation also assists in reducing project scope from all ends.
For example, it helps set the right expectations with clients as they can see all the work to be done laid on in one place.
Similarly, the project team can review what’s needed of them, so they don’t go above the board completing client requests that are out of scope.
Successful project implementation depends on empowering the project team with the right work environment and tools they need to complete their work.
Assuming what employees need, however, often kills the idea of creating a productive culture. So what works? Instead of assuming, ask.
Ask your employees what would help them dive into deep work or what would help them collaborate best with their teammates — depending on the project’s requirements.
A few things that’ll help you here:
Feedback is the only way to improve a process until it becomes well-oiled and satisfies everyone onboard.
Make sure you’re open to receiving feedback as a project manager. Internally, ask all employees to share obstacles that are slowing them or preventing them from doing their best work.
For example, someone on the team may want an early heads-up on what projects you’re planning to have them work on. But it’s only when you ask that you’ll unearth such individual requirements.
So in your one-on-ones with your team, ask them:
Similarly, ask for feedback from contractors you work with. You don’t need to have meetings with them — sending out a short survey to learn their feedback helps. You can also choose to make the survey anonymous.
Lastly, make sure you’re surveying your stakeholders/clients. This is a smart way to improve client satisfaction rates while improving your processes.
So be sure to ask them:
Tagging in some extra time to the time needed to complete a project is another way to always meet client expectations and complete deliverables on time.
After you’ve broken down the work that’d go into the project and identified resources that can help complete it, look at how long it takes for resources to complete similar work.
Your resource calendar should give you information on this. If it’s a new project, you can also meet with the project team to explain the work scope and ask each member how long it’ll take them to play their part.
This way, you can set a project schedule based on resource availability — technically known as resource leveling.
Whatever timetable you end up sketching, make sure to add a few days on top of it. This way, you can keep the project on track even as emergencies or any causes of delays come up.
Lastly, it’s important you meet seasonal business demands by sourcing help from contractors. You can also hire them to cover up for fewer resources in case your team is on holiday and a project comes up.
Working with contractors is helpful in other ways too. For example, it makes sure resources aren’t overburdened. It also helps you meet client requirements — even take on new clients when resources aren’t available. Lastly, hiring contractors is more cost-effective than hiring new resources when they aren’t needed in the long haul.
Here are some proven tips to manage external resources well:
This will help you understand their expertise before onboarding them. It’ll also help you create a list of contractors to work with so you have a pool to refer to when different types of new projects come up. This helps you save time and work with only the most trusted contractors.
This way, you can inform contractors about upcoming projects and inquire about their interest in working on them too.
But learn about their work process first — are they comfortable coordinating via email or are they okay with collaborating with your team via your project management tool?
Remember, creating well-oiled resourcing processes takes time and patience.
It also involves meeting with your employees to understand their interests, career goals, and preferred work styles.
But you can always make things easy for yourself by using a resource management software. It empowers you with an interactive resource calendar, employee inventory, and much more.
If you’re looking to start with a resource management tool today, we recommend Runn to help you plan, forecast, and optimally use resources.
Don’t believe us? Take it from Dovetail’s Nick Frandsen, a Runn user who describes our platform as “An amazing tool that has transformed the way we plan, schedule, and forecast work in our agency.”
Want to bring the best out of your projects’ resources? Start improving your resource scheduling practices.