Why Understanding Resource Availability is SO Important to Scale

If you’re a project manager, chances are you’ve worked on projects that were resource-constrained. Here's how to track resource availability and be prepared next time.
Steven Male

Resource availability plays a critical role in project planning and project management. The ability to complete projects on time and to budget is significantly affected by being able to get the necessary resources at the right time.

Not only do you need to get the necessary resources, but you don’t want them for too long either - that costs more money.

Resources such as people and equipment are variables in any project. They each have varying levels of availability, depending on the demand from other parts of the business, overall business priorities, or even other businesses. 

This article deals with how to manage resource availability, and how doing that impacts the ability of your business to grow. 

What is resource availability in project management? 

On a project, the ability to succeed depends on whether you have access to the essential resources and tools. Availability of resources includes information about what resources you can use, when you can use them, and under what conditions.

McKinsey talks about resource availability as the matching of resources to priority business projects. By mapping the availability of the resources each project requires, companies can identify gaps and come up with a plan to ensure the right resources are allocated to priority projects at the right times. 

When you can do this, it means business priorities are delivered, and your project can be planned and streamlined without resource clashes, cost overruns and delays.

There are a range of factors that contribute to having the right resource availability, such as demand for resources, resource capacity, skill gaps and resource utilization. 

Did you know? Runn's new availability chart on the Planner gives you an overview of how many hours your team is available on any given day, considering your current workload. As per Runn's existing capacity and workload chart, the new availability chart allows you to look at availability of your entire organization while also letting you drill into a specific team or role.

Runn's resource availability chart

Resource availability examples

Human resource availability is one of the leading factors that can influence project management. Staff have weekends off, they may take annual leave, or they may be required for another project. 

Knowing in advance when people are and aren’t available will help to inform your project timeline, so you can make arrangements to suit.

It’s important to have the right people too. Certain skills are required to complete tasks in a timely manner, and without those skills you can face time delays. At the same time, over-qualified staff may come with an extra cost that puts pressure on your budget. Human resource planning is about having the right person at the right time.

Plainly, tasks that require specialist equipment cannot proceed without it. Equipment can be a scarce resource, particularly if it needs to be shared across business areas and other projects. Moreover, if a piece of equipment needs to be acquired from outside the business, then it can take some time for it to arrive. 

These are two common examples of resource availability affecting projects. In any particular project, each resource is a variable. Often, the availability of each variable needs to align in order to progress.

The benefits of tracking resource availability

Tracking resource availability enables you to make a project plan you can trust. There are a number of benefits of knowing resource availability, but the biggest two are being able to scale your business and avoiding unforeseen problems.

1. How knowing resource availability helps to scale

In addition, tracking resource availability can be a significant factor in empowering the business to scale its operation and get greater returns.

  • Increase in growth spending. Resource availability helps to deliver priority projects on time. One tech company used this advantage to redirect 20 percent of its development budget to innovation that has higher growth potential.
  • Cost optimization. Costs associated with superfluous resource spending can be reflected in savings, or can be redeployed into other growth areas.
  • Increased margins. Utilizing resource availability for projects with higher profitability means they can be prioritized, realizing the benefits sooner.

2. Problems you avoid by knowing resource availability

When assessing the benefits of tracking resource availability, it helps to see the issues that it can prevent:

  • Stretched resources. It’s easy to overbook staff when you don’t know their availability. Even if they are free at a certain time, they may not be productive if they’ve just finished a large piece of work.
  • Underutilized resources. All resources come with a cost, and if they’re not being productive then that’s money wasted. Resource availability planning allows you to allocate resources so that they’re utilized to their potential. 
  • Resource clashes. You can face competition for resources from other business departments, competing projects or external parties. It’s important to have a project timeline that avoids these clashes so that you can progress as intended.

How to track resource availability using charts 

A good resource schedule will ensure the right resources are available on time, and in some cases may mean avoiding problems associated with availability.

Resource availability charts make the process of tracking resources much easier. As mentioned, there are a lot of dynamics and variables involved in the process, so having speciality resource availability software that can automate plans removes the risk of human error.

Resource heatmaps and calendars are commonly used to do this. These are visual charts that come with a resource booking and availability calendar that you can incorporate across your whole organization. It allows all users to see when resources are being used and when they’re available, and to create project plans that you can rely on.

Runn has resource availability charts that are ready to use - they only need to be populated with your organization’s resources and projects. You can better deliver on business priorities without needing to spend hours manually updating spreadsheets.

View how many hours each person has available on any given day with Runn's People Planner. Quickly schedule work for your team, and instantly see how it affects your budget, revenue and capacity.

Final thoughts

The benefits of knowing your resource availability in project management are fairly clear. It’s important to also understand the impact it can have on overall business objectives too. 

Businesses in all industries are looking to grow and scale their operations, and initiate many projects with this one goal in mind. By being able to deliver priority projects efficiently and effectively, project managers play a key role in scaling their organizations.

Talk to Runn today about how to implement resource availability to benefit your business.

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