Resource Planning for Multiple Projects: A Complete Guide for 2022

Learn the do's and don'ts of resource planning for multiple projects.
Nicole Tiefensee

Doing resource planning for multiple projects is like weaving a spider web — put one thread, your resource, in the wrong place and it will get tangled; cut it altogether — the whole system will go flying down. But want it or not, managing multiple projects is a necessity. It is the new normal for businesses in 2022, in a post-pandemic world where leaders aspire to do more with fewer resources.  

A recent report suggests that 59% of project managers already run 2 to 5 projects simultaneously. Couple it with the fact that trying to manage too many projects and doing poor resource management are among the biggest challenges project managers get to deal with today, Wellingtone concluded.

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so here are some project management challenges and solutions you might want to keep in mind.  

Challenges in doing resource planning for multiple projects

Project management is a complex game as it is, but when there are multiple projects running at the same time, the gains, as well as dangers, get multiplied.

When there are several projects and a limited pool of resources working on them, corporate juggling takes on unprecedented levels. Initiatives get launched without the needed resources to maintain them, which often leads to each unit and everyone in it being involved in several initiatives at the same time, trying to keep their heads from spinning.

But in project management speak, there are a few resource-related challenges that can easily surface the moment you try to get your hands on a few projects at the same time. Here are some of them.

Poor capacity planning

Planning your resources and their capacity means that you know whether the people you currently have in the team have enough free time to start and finish the project you initiate. More often than not, a lack of insight into your resource availability makes it nearly impossible to do efficient resource allocation and gives room to false expectations as to when the project will get delivered and whether it will get delivered at all.

Inadequate risk assessment

Assessing business risks is a common thing, but if you want to know how to manage resources across multiple projects, never forget about the risks associated with resources or lack thereof. When doing capacity planning and resource allocation, think about things like people getting sick, taking paid or unpaid leave, choosing to continue building their career at some other place, or any other reason that might make your resource management plans go down.

No real-time overview

Having to deal with lack or no real-time overview leads to project managers taking crucial decisions by flying blind. You need to do that human resource planning for a solid start and then regularly check for any possible changes to see if you need to do adjustments to get the project to the finish line. But when project managers need to run all of that hustle in spreadsheets, they do not just waste productivity hours, but plan resources with no real-time data at hand.  

Resource utilization is poorly documented

In short, resource utilization stands for the amount of time your resources spend doing a certain task. If you have no documented utilization data to rely on when planning your resources for the upcoming projects, making accurate estimates of how many hands you will be needing and how to allocate them is problematic, to say the least.

How to manage resources across multiple projects

There are lots of traps in resource planning for multiple projects. But where there are traps, there are also ways around them. Here are some of the tried and tested ones.

Define a holistic resource pool

Having this bird-eye view over all of your projects and available resources is the best way to plan well. For example, with all of your project and resource data being consolidated in one place, you can analyze your resource capacity at any given point in time and see who is free, who is full, and who is already fishing for burnout.

resource planning for multiple projects

Avoid overbookings

Overbooking and double-booking your resources are among the first things to keep away from. Yet it is also the very problem that is more likely to take place in multi-project management. With a Heatmap and a holistic resource pool view on the table, you will be able to allocate your resources wisely and even juggle them, if need be.  

how to manage resources across multiple projects

Use resource planning software

Finding a free resource planning tool for managing multiple projects is a great first step towards automating your resource planning processes. With a tool that matches your project needs, you will be able to reduce human error, collaborate efficiently, save time, and improve the overall grasp of where the project is moving and how likely it is to end in a bottle of champagne being opened.  

Reduce admin time

A recent report by West Monroe found that 36% of managers spend 3-4 hours on administrative tasks daily, while for 23% of managers more than half of their workday, 5 hours, go into admin work. As crucial as it might be, you can substantially reduce the time you and your team invest into administrative work (which is inherent in every role) by having routine processes automated.

Communicate with the team leads

Poor communication can easily derail projects. And so it does, in 30% of the cases, a recent PMI report claims. Communicating with the team leads to get insights into their resource availability, allocation, and planning will put a life jacket on your business initiatives. Even more than that, it will give you a realistic image of what is doable and what is not so you don’t have to waste a minute planning a project that will never see the break of dawn.

Resources are the lifeblood of any company, and it’s important that they’re planned and allocated well otherwise unpreparedness and unforeseeable costs can put you out of business. Plan a talk with Runn today to see how you can do smart resource planning for multiple projects.

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