What is Resource Management? A Starter's Guide + Best Practices

All businesses delivering services need to tap into resource management, and for good reason. To make more money than they spend, levelling up their resource management is crucial.
Iryna Viter

A good service business is built on the right tasks being performed at the right time by the right people. And no matter how easy it sounds, this equation is hard to crack in practice. 

When you’re managing resources on a project, things can get 100% overwhelming. Trying to stay on top of moving parts, stakeholders, budgets, and different stages is a juggle that can very quickly go wrong.

A solid resource management strategy sets out to put all these things into perspective, especially in a service business. 

Resource management definition

What is resource management? Officially, the practice of regulating and assigning resources to business projects in order to maximize efficiency is known as resource management. In business speak, a resource can be anything involved in the success of your project, be it a human resource, a laptop, or a material. While resource management can mean different things in different contexts, in professional services businesses it often refers to people management.

In that respect, resource management is bringing about the best from your people or material resources they use to succeed. The task of every resource manager is to make sure it all works in perfect harmony without overlaps and overloads. 

Benefits of resource management for businesses

By the book, resource management covers many processes, such as resource planning, resource scheduling, and resource allocation. But in broader terms, the ultimate purpose of resource management is to help your team be successful. It means planning for the team’s success. It means making decisions that help, rather than hinder, their success. It means understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and how to best use them. It means knowing what you need to do, and getting it done. Resource management forces us to think about how we're going to find the time and space for everything we want to do.

Resource management is also about results. It's about creating an environment where people are self-motivated, bringing out the best in themselves, and helping others do the same. The best resource managers create environments where people feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves -- not just a cog in a wheel or a widget on an assembly line, but an essential part of the whole. Resource management is about fostering cooperation between colleagues -- working together to accomplish great things.

An organization without resource management is like a car with no driver: it will go nowhere fast. That being said, effective resource management is often the difference between success and failure. It’s critical to resource projects and departments appropriately - too little and they can’t achieve what you want them to, and too much leads to unnecessary expenses and underutilized resources.

The benefits of having a resource management strategy in place include:

  • Optimal, even utilization
  • Maximized productivity
  • Advanced problem identification and reduced resourcing conflicts 
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved transparency and visibility into team capacity

Having a good resource management process in place also leaves a good document trail, which you can use when things don’t go the way you wanted. You can show you did the best with what you had, and illustrate learnings for the future.

Resource management challenges

One of the most common blockers that prevent resource managers from doing their best work is the lack of a real-time overview. The more people are hired, the more difficult it becomes to keep track of various skills, assignments and how they travel across spreadsheets. Without visibility into your people and what they’re up to at the moment, resource conflicts become inevitable, which in turn causes misunderstandings with customers and snowballs into overdue tasks, missed deadlines, and lost opportunities. 

The importance of having the right resource management tool

In years gone by, resource management tools were somewhat of a luxury. Now, they’re a crucial aspect of resource management techniques all over the world. The visibility and automation you get from a resource management software is a considerable advantage. It means you can get what you need, when you need it - no more, and no less. There are many different tools you can use, and each one has strengths and weaknesses that affect their suitability for your needs. 

Runn is a full-suite resource management and financial forecasting software that helps software companies, digital agencies, and consultancies become more efficient and profitable. Check out the video below to learn more. 

Getting started with resource management best practices

Resource management best practices are tried and true strategies to help you to deal with everything that’s involved with management and planning. When you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to identify issues before they turn into big problems, and allocate resources to where they’re needed most. As you introduce resource management best practice, the processes will become more efficient.

The successful results of effective resource management have been seen over many years, in many industries, and in businesses of all sizes. There are a range of ways you can do it:

1. Streamline resource planning and scheduling

Resource planning and scheduling is a complicated task. The flow-on effects from earlier project stages means resourcing requires constant updating, which adds more time, expense and stress.

However, the right resource management makes planning and scheduling as straightforward as possible. The idea is, you want to arrange what you need, when you need it, with the minimum of fuss.

You can do that by consolidating all information regarding resources in a shared place, so all stakeholders have the visibility they need.

You can also Identify the resources that are needed at specific times, so you can have them available only for the period they’re needed. This prevents double-booking resources, which can be expensive and embarrassing. 

2. Identify gaps in resources and allocate them accordingly

Having visibility over your resources gives you the tremendous advantage of being able to see where you might be caught short. However, it’s not as simple as just seeing where a project might need additional resourcing.

It’s important you can weigh up different business priorities and projects to make the best decision for the entire business, not just one specific piece of work.

Instead of filling gaps with the first resource that’s available, it’s important to have visibility over all resources and all business areas. It’s no use pulling resources from one area to fill a gap somewhere else if it’s just going to create another gap.

3. Forecast your resource availability

Maintaining an accurate and reliable resource availability forecast is crucial to planning and resource scheduling

For example, if you have a specific staff member whose skills are in high demand, it’s imperative for that person to keep an accurate diary of their availability in order to utilize them as efficiently as possible.

Being able to identify when your resources are being utilized and when they’re available will allow you to maximize the use you get out of them. If a resource isn’t required at a certain point in time, allocate it to another non-urgent piece of work.

4. Plan effectively for projects in the pipeline

It’s not enough just to have a resource management plan for the projects that are happening right now. That will lead to problems when new projects that come on stream. 

Workload management is a crucial part of effectively utilizing resources, and having a holistic view of all pieces of work will allow you to do this as well as possible. 

For example, if the team is fully utilized for a long period on one project, it’s best to give them time to recover before allocating them to another one. If you know that the team needs time off, concentrate on another aspect of the next project while they recuperate.

5. Agree on a universal way to communicate and prioritize work within the organization

Having a project management communication plan makes a huge difference for understanding how and when to communicate with stakeholders. Good communication, or even overcommunication, is crucial for the success of any project, especially in an organization with multiple ongoing projects at one time.

For example, an important decision-maker might never check their emails. If the communication plan specifically spells out the requirement to be on email, you can avoid problems. Or, once you know that, you might as well agree to communicate in another way that suits everyone.

Having key staff members agree on business priorities can also lead to better resourcing, as it gives clear prioritization to the most significant pieces of work.

6. Keep in mind that resource management is a long and ongoing process

Effective resource management involves continually updating a resource’s availability throughout a project. It’s extremely common for plans to change, and you need to make sure you understand and communicate the effects of those changes so all stakeholders are informed.

It’s not enough to make a resource management plan for a project and then never look at it again. That can lead to confusion, double-booking and under utilization.

The best resource management plans are regularly reassessed against project evolution to ensure resources are allocated as well as possible, both for individual pieces of work and for overall business goals and priorities.

7, Use the right resource management tool to effectively practice allocation and management

As mentioned previously, having a resource management tool that fits with your project, your business and your personality makes a significant difference to your ability to get the best from resources.

The demands of projects and businesses today have changed significantly from those in the past, so it’s important to consider when your resource management tool was developed. If it’s old, there’s a good chance it may not be suitable for your needs, or that another tool is better equipped for the job.

Many of the benefits and best practices discussed above can be automated with the right tool, which is a huge bonus for project managers.

Final thoughts

Resources are precious, and it’s imperative for any business that they’re utilized as well as they can be. That includes people, equipment, technology and more. 

This is especially the case when it comes to completing business projects. Being able to say a project was completed on time and on budget is a significant achievement, and following resource management best practices dramatically increases your chances of doing it.

Runn resource management software has been developed with project teams in mind, so you have all your resources in one place. You can plan and forecast your capacity, availability and utilization effectively and efficiently, adhering to the highest standards for management and planning.

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