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9 min read

What’s resource management, and why is it important for project success?

Discover what resource management is, its benefits, and the risks of neglecting it. Explore this essential project management skill for optimal outcomes.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

Effective resource management forms the backbone for successful projects. You must strategically dole out time, funding, and employee effort to ensure you deliver project outcomes on time and within budget.

This careful resource orchestration is crucial for meeting immediate project milestones and maintaining the long-term sustainability and growth of your initiatives. By perfecting this management skill, you smooth the path through project complexities, fostering an environment where efficiency, productivity, and team members thrive.

What’s resource management?

Resource management involves actively planning, sourcing, and allocating essential resources to successfully complete projects. It’s a crucial aspect of project management that optimizes resource use to achieve goals efficiently within set timelines and budgets. In some organizations, a dedicated resource manager oversees these tasks, while in others, project managers (PMs) take on these responsibilities.

Managing resources is complex, requiring an overarching understanding of organizational operations. With departments often sharing assets and multiple projects simultaneously vying for limited assets, effective resource management is crucial to ensure all initiatives progress smoothly. A skilled resource manager or PM adeptly distributes these shared supplies, preventing shortages that could adversely affect project outcomes.

What’s a resource management plan?

To effectively manage resources, most asset managers will create a resource management plan that touches on the following five elements:

  • Resource overview: Lists all essential resources, from personnel to technology to office space, ensuring these components directly support the project's needs.

  • Human resources: Specifies the personnel required for each phase, assisting HR in strategic planning.

  • Quantities and costs: Outlines project-specific requirements (e.g., 15 software licenses, three new UI engineers) and estimates the associated costs.

  • Timeframes: Sets the duration for tasks and overall project completion, detailing the hours personnel must invest.

  • Risks: Identifying potential risks early helps avoid delays and unnecessary resource consumption, such as the cost of hiring a consultant to correct a preventable mistake.

Three key elements of resource management

The best asset management strategy includes three critical components, each helping to ensure resource availability and seamless project execution.

1. Resource allocation

Resource allocation involves assessing available supplies and strategically assigning them to meet project tasks and priorities. Here, you analyze the skills and availability of existing personnel, as well as other assets, and then deploy them where they’re most needed. By helping you carefully match supplies to project demands, this approach lets you progress projects without delay.

Imagine a scenario where a marketing team needs to launch a new product while updating branding for an existing one. You might assign a graphic designer to work on new product visuals in the morning and focus on revising brand materials in the afternoon. This approach optimizes team efforts across multiple initiatives for maximum output and success.

2. Resource leveling

In resource leveling, you harness the diverse skills of your team members beyond their primary roles. If a developer has strong user experience (UX) design skills not typically used in their main tasks, this tactic lets you allocate UX design responsibilities to them. By assigning tasks that match these hidden skills, this approach lets you optimize internal skill use and minimizes the need for external hires.

3. Resource forecasting

Resource forecasting lets you preemptively identify what resources a project will require, proactively preventing shortages from affecting your resource plan. Here, you analyze historical data on resource use, current project requirements, and future projects in the pipeline to identify trends and predict future needs. You then match these projections with the organization’s current capacity and resources to determine the additional assets you’ll need.

If you anticipate a significant project load increase during the next quarter, you might need additional software developers to meet your objectives. By analyzing current project times and developer availability, you can proactively hire and train staff before the demand peaks.

Why is resource management important?

Resource management helps you efficiently allocate and use resources and positions your projects for maximum impact. Here’s a more in-depth explanation of these benefits, highlighting how it serves as a catalyst for transformative project outcomes.

Reduces costs

Effective resource management directly cuts project costs by optimizing every resource use, from personnel to equipment. This strategy eliminates waste and prevents the need for expensive external hires, making the most of what’s already available. It also helps you avoid spreading resources too thinly, leading to unnecessary overtime and team burnout. 

Eliminates idle time between projects

When you manage resources effectively, you actively minimize idle time and ensure team members remain active, even during project gaps and delays. By strategically reassigning team members to different tasks during these periods, you prevent wasting valuable skills and paid hours. 

If a project is on hold, for instance, you might temporarily move a software developer to work on another’s code documentation, maintaining productivity and resource efficiency.

Closes skill gaps

Resource management also involves team capacity management — identifying a company’s existing skill set and highlighting gaps.

Consider a scenario where a development firm anticipates a surge in UX design projects beyond its team’s capacity. This signals the need to either recruit additional designers or invest in training for existing staff to acquire the necessary skills. Taking these proactive steps ensures your organization remains adaptable to emerging demands. 

Encourages collaboration

Resource planning involves mapping out a comprehensive view of an organization’s collective personnel resources. By fully understanding employee capabilities, you can strategically redeploy staff in areas that need their skills most. This flexibility fosters interdepartmental collaboration and lets you create dynamic teams.

Fosters pride and belonging

Effective resource management empowers employees to explore and demonstrate their full potential. It helps you provide team members with opportunities to tackle new challenges, excel in diverse projects, and contribute to the organization’s success. This exposure not only leads to high-quality results but also fosters a deep sense of pride and belonging, enhancing overall job satisfaction.

Imagine a marketing team member who primarily handles social media but has shown interest in graphic design. Through effective resource management, you allow this employee to design graphics for an upcoming campaign. 

This role expansion and resource leveling lets them tackle new challenges while contributing to the company in a different capacity. And as their designs become integral to the campaign’s success, they develop new skills and gain a sense of accomplishment and belonging within the team.

Improves efficiency and productivity

Resource management strategies align team members’ skills with project needs, ensure that supplies are available when they’re needed, and minimize the time spent on non-productive activities. Regular check-ins, such as stand-up meetings, are part of this streamlined approach. They provide a platform for open communication, allowing teams to identify any issues or bottlenecks and collaboratively find solutions quickly.

Reduces burnout

Overtasked employees experience higher burnout, reducing their productivity. But resource management tactics can prevent team members from overextending themselves by aligning tasks with their available capacity. Carefully managing tasks that fit within the team members’ available constraints prevents overburdening them, upholding team morale and ensuring sustained performance.

Consider a developer with only two hours available for a task each day. Assigning activities that demand four hours of work from them — a frequent oversight in resource management — will quickly lead to exhaustion and errors.

Increases accountability

By clearly assigning tasks and responsibilities, resource management strategies help you enhance team accountability. This clarity encourages team members to take ownership of their work, directly linking their efforts to the project’s success. 

If a graphic designer is responsible for delivering the final design elements by a certain deadline, resource management tools can track progress, making it visible to the entire team. This visibility motivates the designer to meet their commitments and fosters a culture of transparency and responsibility across the entire organization.

Consequences of poor resource management 

Leaders who don’t monitor and allocate resources judiciously, even if they believe they fully understand their organization and teams, can cause mistakes and delays. This poor planning leads to several negative outcomes, like:

  • Increased costs: Resource management pushes organizations to leverage existing personnel and tools before incurring additional expenses on new hires, technology, and materials. Neglecting this step can lead to excessive spending on new initiatives.

  • Poor performance: Employees overwhelmed by unreasonable workloads are more likely to underperform. Proper resource management prevents such overtasking, ensuring the work quality remains high.

  • High turnover: Consistent burnout from excessive workloads can drive employees to leave their jobs in search of a better work-life balance, leading to loss of valuable talent.

  • Reputational damage: Late projects, disgruntled employees, and subpar outputs can tarnish a company’s reputation. But when companies prepare for work correctly, they deliver high-quality work on time (and at a rate that’s comfortable for personnel).

How to effectively manage resources: 3 steps

While every resource management plan looks different for each organization, the following three steps are universal to ensure efficacy across the board.

1. Assign resources across projects

In environments where collaboration is key and multiple projects run concurrently, resource allocation requires careful planning. Instead of limiting resource planning to a single project, consider the broader needs across all tasks. If one activity demands the experience of several sought-after developers but the company has a limited number, you need to either expand your team or strategically schedule the existing developers to meet deadlines. 

The same logic applies to budgetary and resource constraints. Not everyone can use a specific tool — like a 3D printer — at once, and the organization can’t spend excessive assets on one project if it’s also balancing several others. To optimize efficiency, manage access to high-demand tools by creating a schedule that aligns with project deadlines. This approach prevents bottlenecks and ensures equitable resource distribution across multiple initiatives.

2. Quickly respond to dynamic resource shifts

Resource managers must be agile, ready to adjust resources as project dynamics change. Delays, project scope shifts, and team availability changes demand swift action. If a key team member unexpectedly leaves mid-project, for instance, you must quickly assign another qualified employee to cover the gap or hire a temporary replacement to keep the project moving without delay. 

Having a flexible mitigation plan is crucial for addressing these unexpected situations efficiently and moving initiatives along without losing momentum. This might involve reallocating existing team members to cover for an absent colleague or reprioritizing tasks to align with updated goals.

3. Track time

Time tracking helps you maintain project schedules and anticipate potential delays. By closely monitoring how team members spend their time, you can proactively address bottlenecks, reallocate resources, and adjust timelines as needed to keep initiatives on track.

Using tools like timesheets, Gantt charts, and shared project management software enables transparent resource hour tracking. This setup lets team members easily update their progress and highlight any issues. If time tracking reveals that a particular phase is taking longer than expected, for example, you can investigate the cause and reallocate resources to speed up completion, preventing delays before they occur.

Streamline resource management with Tempo Strategic Roadmaps

Leverage project management tools like Tempo Strategic Roadmaps to enhance your management process. Strategic Roadmaps offers an intuitive platform for crafting roadmaps and templates that clearly outline resource allocation, making planning and adjusting resources easier as demands evolve. 

Further power up your project and resource management by incorporating Portfolio Manager, a robust time-tracking tool. It's particularly beneficial for managers overseeing dispersed teams, providing a consolidated view of each member's availability. This feature is invaluable for coordinating remote workers across different time zones, helping you optimize scheduling and resource use.