You probably don’t realize it, but you have been doing resource management all your life. From deciding which shoes to pack in a small suitcase for vacation or what food to cook to feed guests at a large party, resource management is a regular activity. Despite its commonality in our lives, resource management in a professional capacity can be much more complicated. While managing human resources may seem like a daunting or unfamiliar task, knowing the basics can help you get started and reap its benefits.
Resource Management Basics
What Is Resource Management?
Although you’ve likely done some resource management in your life, let’s go ahead and look at an official definition. According to Wikipedia, resource management is “the efficient development of an organization’s resources when they are needed.” In the context of project management, resource management is defined as the “processes, techniques and philosophies as to the best approach for allocating resources.” To put it more simply, resource management is making sure your resources are being utilized in the best way.
But what exactly is a resource? Let’s breakdown a few of the pieces of the resource management puzzle including the resources themselves.
- Resource – A resource in an organization is any asset needed to complete a project. A resource can refer to human skill, specific employees, inventory, machinery and even natural resources. However, because people are usually an organization’s most valuable resource, resource management mostly refers to people. As a resource, people can be more specifically broken down by individual, role or skill.
- Capacity – Capacity is the maximum amount of time a person can contribute to an organization. Capacity is often measured in Full-Time Equivalent (FTE), days, or man hours. It’s important to understand that a person’s capacity isn’t just an eight-hour work day in a five-day work week. People spend a small amount of time answering emails, attending meetings and performing other administrative tasks. Employees might also work part-time or take vacation time so you will need account for all these activities in a resource’s capacity.
- Project Portfolio – A project portfolio is all the projects in an organization. A project portfolio is designed to provide a high-level view of all project activity.
What Does Resource Management Look Like?
Now that you know the pieces of the resource management puzzle, let’s put them together. Resource management involves several different activities: allocation, leveling and forecasting.
Allocation is assigning people to projects. Good allocation is making sure employees are not over or under booked and that people are assigned to the right projects for their skills.
Leveling is extending project deadlines or otherwise altering a project to match the actual available capacity of your resources. For example, if you don’t have enough developers available to finish a project on time, you will need to extend the deadline to work at the pace of the developers you do have available.
Finally, forecasting is planning for the resources you will need for future projects. Planning should not only consider all the required skills and specific individuals needed for new projects, but also how currently running projects will be affected.
One of the biggest misconceptions about resource management that you may be thinking right now is that you don’t need it because all your resources are currently booked on projects. You may think you’ve got it all worked out, but you are missing out on the true heart of resource management. High resource utilization does not equal resource management. Resource management is about the optimization and efficiency of your employees.
The Need for Resource Management
There is a very clear breakdown that happens when organizations take on more projects. Individual project managers assign tasks, but there isn’t any effective coordination between project managers on exactly which people are being used and where. Because all resources are finite, it is extremely important that they are used in the most effective way possible. When people aren’t used effectively, it creates a massive amount of waste for organizations – wasted time, effort and money among other problems. If you want to know how effective the current use of your employees is, ask yourself these questions:
- Are my projects finished on time without any employees working overtime?
- Are my projects delayed because we are waiting for available employees?
- Do I have difficulty finding available people for new projects?
- Do I know how many resources I have and what skills are available to my organization?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider resource management. Resource management is built on a foundation of transparency and gives you the big picture view needed to optimize your employees, prevent bottlenecks and finish more projects.
Resource Planning Is Even Better with Meisterplan
If you are ready to get started with resource management or looking to improve your current resource management practices, you will need a tool to execute resource management. Meisterplan is a resource management and project portfolio management tool that makes resource planning simple and quick. Allocating resources can be done in just a few clicks and overallocated resources are easy to spot. You can search your resources for specific skills, roles or employees and add vacation, leave or other time off for each resource so you can plan for absences. To see these features and others in action, start a free 30 day trial today and start making resource management a reality.
There is no other product that does what Meisterplan does in terms of portfolio management and resource management without unessential extra features. If there were another product that does what Meisterplan does, I would have found it, because I tried them all.