Words of advice: 4 team leads share best practices on how to tackle a resource management plan

Are you struggling with how to allocate resources for your next project? Making sure your team doesn’t feel overworked or underutilized is a challenge most leaders experience. Although it may feel like you’re blindly navigating resource planning in project management, it doesn’t have to be that way. Developing a resource management plan gives you ongoing visibility into the workloads of your individual contributors as well as your team. It allows you to balance all your resources effectively and see the full picture on how your team will achieve its goals.

What is a resource management plan?

A resource management plan is used to manage and allocate every type of resource you need for your project. An effective plan outlines the specific resources (including human resources, financial resources, technical resources, and physical resources) and activities necessary during the course of a project or initiative. It guides you by giving a holistic view of the workload across teams, and keeps everything in one place. You can easily manage, schedule, and allocate every resource, while maximizing productivity. Learning how to allocate resources in project management will empower you (and your team) to run projects effectively.

Resource management advice from four team leads

What’s better than reading a guide on how to allocate resources in project management? How about hearing from four team leads—with different backgrounds and challenges—who are immersed in the practice every day? Read on as they weigh in on how to tackle a resource management plan and give real examples. Meet Jenny, Ariel, Reigan, and Eric.

Jenny Thai, Head of Content, Marketing

What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to resource management and what’s your solution?

A big challenge I face when it comes to resource management and allocation involves getting a high-level view of my team’s workload. I need to have an accurate look at every project coming down the pipeline.

I tackle this by first looking at the roadmap of upcoming product launches and campaigns and then figuring out staffing needs at the project level versus individual deliverables. I manage everything in a work management tool where I have a portfolio of all the projects my team is working on each quarter. For smaller copy projects or ad hoc work, I’ve set up a process in the same work management tool for people to request copy support. Now, I can easily manage new requests that come in and identify what the needs, deadlines, and priorities are.

When it comes to staffing projects or allocating resources, there’s both an art and a science to it. I try to make sure that someone’s available bandwidth matches the scope of work assigned and I also think about assigning projects that align with individual skills and career goals.

What are your top three tips for building and managing a resource management plan?
  1. Be proactive about finding out what projects are in the pipeline. Most of my team’s projects are kicked off by other teams, so it’s important to reach out to cross-functional partners and get a holistic view of what’s coming up.
  2. Make sure each team member has at least one big project (e.g., a marketing campaign) on their plate and round out their workload with week-to-week and day-to-day tasks. This minimizes context switching while giving some variety.
  3. Check in frequently with your team so you know each person’s bandwidth and make adjustments as you go. If something unexpected comes up, keep the lines of communication open to ensure that your resource plans stay on track.

Ariel Ross, Integrated Brand Producer, Design

What’s the biggest challenge you face when it comes to resource management and what’s your solution?

The biggest challenge I face when it comes to resource management is having an accurate view of what my team is working on, what our bandwidth is, and what the status of projects are. There’s a lot of nuance that comes with this because each individual contributor has their own pace and strengths. I need to identify who is the best person to assign to each project.

It’s key to constantly improve communication with team members. I make sure everyone is on the same page by having regular check-ins, stand-up meetings, and face-to-face discussions. I also try to get a high-level overview of everyone’s tasks so I can better approach conversations. By building timelines for the team’s production process, I get a clear view of who’s in charge and what their next steps are.

What are your top three tips for building and managing a resource management plan?
  1. Get cross-functional stakeholder input on your workback schedule. By doing so, you can ensure your team is aligned and set realistic expectations and timing upfront.
  2. Follow progress in your work management tool (in particular, your timeline). See what work is delegated to your team members and use your timeline to determine if you can help with any roadblocks.
  3. Understand how your team uses your work management tool. Some team members might look at the bigger picture, while others will focus on viewing one task. Adapt your working style to accommodate how your team operates.

Eric Pelz, Engineering Manager, Product

What’s the biggest challenge you face when it comes to resource management and what’s your solution?

One challenge is that my team does work in parallel. I need to ask myself, “How can I maximize value with my engineering team?” I have to focus on achieving a balance based on our goals and the risk of the work.

I have team meetings and use the time to collectively lay out everyone’s work in a list. The list helps us see what we’re doing in the next few weeks and understand how team members feel about the work. Then we take what we’ve learned and apply it in our work management tool. We make it a priority to clearly document everything in one spot.

Everything is tracked in our work management tool, including out of office notifications. We can always see what resources will be available. This gives me the opportunity to be strategic about timing. We’ll avoid starting a big project right before the weekend or when multiple people are out of the office.

What are your top three tips for building and managing a resource management plan?
  1. If you have a project or task that is risky, immediately write it down. By keeping these type of notes, you are protecting yourself and avoiding any worst-case scenarios or risks.
  2. Be flexible. Don’t think about your plan as a one-off task that you can simply check off your list. Always be learning, replanning, and recalibrating; optimize your resource management plan as you go.
  3. Make team thinking a collaborative activity. Every person on your team should be encouraged to share their opinions, make recommendations, and let others know when they’re bandwidth is tight. Resource management is not one person’s job; it’s a group effort.

Reigan Combs, Head of Life Cycle Marketing and Global Campaigns, Marketing

What’s the biggest challenge you face when it comes to resource management and what’s your solution?

A big challenge I face when it comes to resource management is getting a clear understanding of a request and knowing who on my team is the most suited to take on the work, given their current bandwidth. I often ask myself, “Who is the most equipped and knowledgeable to take on this specific request?”

I have my team map out their top five priorities every month so I can evaluate their bandwidth. It’s all about identifying which projects make the most sense for each person. For example, a project involving an existing initiative might be a better fit for a new hire. Whereas, a more complex project might make more sense for a longer tenured employee.

Recently, I created a project in my work management tool that gives me an editorial calendar view. I can see all the email campaigns my team is working on and get a quick glance of when one is going out and who is responsible for it.

What are your top three tips for building and/or managing a resource management plan?
  1. Streamline your work process. It can be overwhelming when multiple requests are thrown on your plate. Try simplifying your process by using digital forms.
  2. Have a meeting with your team on a weekly basis. Understand how your team members are feeling about their current bandwidth and get a clear understanding of how much workload they feel comfortable with.
  3. Manage priorities. Look at your team’s top five monthly priorities to see what type of work each person is focused on. Monitor your team’s priorities on a weekly basis to see if anything has changed and reprioritize if needed.

Ready to build a resource management plan?

Finding the right tool to build your resource management plan—where everything can be housed in one spot—is critical to its success. Using a work management tool will allow you to see an overall view and adjust as needed. It will help you stay on top of resources and avoid delays. Be sure to include timelines and assign owners to each task, which will help create transparency and minimize employee burnout. Realize that it’s okay to adjust your plan as things change; just be sure you’re constantly communicating with your team.

Once your resource management plan is in place and you’ve allocated resources, always remember to identify and highlight employee wins. Celebrating the success of your team helps keep your employees engaged and productive.

To use the same tool Jenny, Ariel, Reigan, and Eric are using, take a look at Asana and get work done faster.

Tackle your resource management plan with Asana