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What is resource management? A guide to getting started

Julia Martins contributor headshotJulia Martins
February 17th, 2024
9 min read
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Resource management is the process of planning and scheduling your team’s resources and activities—essentially anything that helps you complete a project. Developing a resource management plan can give you visibility into team member workloads. Learn how to manage resources and improve team performance.

Making sure your team doesn’t feel overworked or underutilized is a challenge you’ll often face as a leader. It's easy to lose sight of your team's workload and bandwidth. That’s where resource management comes in. 

Developing a resource management plan can give you consistent visibility into your team’s workload. It allows you to balance all your resources effectively and to see the full picture of how your team will achieve its goals.

What is resource management?

Resource management is the process of planning out and scheduling your team’s resources to optimize utilization and ensure project success. A resource can include everything from equipment and financial funds to tech tools and employee bandwidth—basically, anything that helps you complete a project.

When you’re deciding how to manage or assign your team’s resources, consider a few questions:

  • What is the availability of each resource?

  • What are the timelines for each activity?

  • How many resources will be required to accomplish each activity?

  • Who is the best person to accomplish the activity effectively?

Effectively managing your resources ensures every project is well-equipped and every team member is appropriately allocated, paving the way for successful project completion.

How to effectively manage your team’s workload

Learn how to leverage work management to distribute work more effectively.

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Why is resource management important?

Resource management allows you to make sure your team members are confident with the amount of work on their plate and equipped with the tools they need to accomplish each task. When resource management is done right, you’re empowering your team to produce high-quality work at a sustainable rate. 

Benefits of resource management

[inline illustration] Benefits of resource management (infographic)

Let’s dig a little deeper into why resource management is critical to your team’s success. With effective resource management, you can:

  • Have a complete picture of your team’s workload, so you can best assign resources, prevent overwork, and maximize efficiency. 

  • Distribute work appropriately, ensuring all your team members are appropriately staffed—not overworked or underutilized.  

  • Spot potential resourcing problems in real-time and adjust accordingly, preventing staffing issues from impacting progress on projects.

  • Give your team clarity around their responsibilities and the responsibilities of their team members, limiting misunderstandings and promoting accountability. 

  • Set realistic project goals, reducing the likelihood of missing important milestones and increasing the chances of on-time project completion.

  • Enhance your team's profitability by optimizing resource utilization and ensuring projects are completed efficiently and within budget.

  • Improve future resource planning by drawing on the knowledge gained to better estimate and forecast bandwidth for upcoming projects.

Resource management techniques

Leveraging resource management techniques is all about finding the smartest ways to use your team's skills and resources. Let’s explore a few common types of resource management methods.

How to effectively manage your team’s workload

Learn how to leverage work management to distribute work more effectively.

Resource allocation

Resource allocation is more than just allocating resources to tasks and projects; it's the process of choosing the best resource based on the project team’s skills and capacity. After all, good resource management isn’t just about making sure you have enough resources; it’s about making sure you have the right resources for the right projects. Resource allocation can help you achieve this by strategically matching your team's strengths, capabilities, and resource capacity to the specific demands of each project.

Resource utilization

Resource utilization involves using tools like utilization reports and time tracking software to identify your team’s capacity over a specific period of time. It’s a capacity planning technique that allows you to identify whether project resources are being underutilized or overallocated, so you can better manage workloads.

Resource forecasting

Resource forecasting is a resource management process that involves proactively predicting the resource requirements for future projects and initiatives. You can identify these needs by relying on past trends and project metrics, as well as your team’s current capacity and the needs of upcoming projects. Resource forecasting is typically done during the project planning stage and can help with risk management by identifying potential resource bottlenecks or gaps in your team's availability in advance.

Resource leveling

Resource leveling is a resource management solution designed to combat shortages or overallocation by leveraging underutilized resources. For example, this might mean shifting work from one team member’s plate to another who has similar skills and additional capacity. Or, it could mean taking advantage of skill sets that typically aren’t utilized, like having a website content writer create social copy.

Types of resource management

Effective resource management is pivotal in steering any organization toward its goals. This process involves a strategic approach to managing various essential resources. 

Here, we focus on three fundamental types: human, financial, and material resources. Each category plays a unique role in the broader spectrum of resource planning and is a crucial component of any resource management plan.

Human resource management (work resources)

Human resource management is the strategic approach to managing a company's most valuable assets—its employees. This involves not just recruiting and hiring but also integrating workflow and automation tools to streamline training, performance assessments, and career development planning.

Example: A software company might enhance its human resource management by using workflow automation to efficiently align its workforce with emerging technology trends. This ensures that developers are systematically trained in the latest programming languages and Agile methodologies. By automating parts of the training and development process, the company can quickly adapt to changes in the fast-paced tech industry.

How to effectively manage your team’s workload

Learn how to leverage work management to distribute work more effectively.

Financial resource management (cost resources)

Financial resource management is the process of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling financial activities such as procurement and utilization of funds. It involves making smart decisions about allocating financial resources to various projects or departments. 

Example: Consider a multinational corporation that allocates budgets across different regions, taking into account local market conditions, operational costs, pricing strategies, and revenue projections. This strategic financial management helps to ensure high-priority initiatives receive the necessary funding and resources to thrive. These resources, such as consulting or other professional services, are instances of tactical spending that are helpful but not the main purpose of budgetary allocation.

Material resource management (material assets) 

Material resource management involves the efficient planning, sourcing, and utilization of physical resources required for business operations. It encompasses inventory management, purchasing, and supply chain optimization to support the entire project lifecycle, from initial planning to final delivery. 

Example: A manufacturing firm may use material resource management to ensure a steady supply of raw materials like metals and plastics. By doing so, the firm can avoid production delays and cost overruns, thereby maintaining product quality and meeting customer delivery timelines.

5 step resource management plan

A comprehensive resource management plan is essential for any organization looking to optimize its resources effectively. This plan involves a series of steps that ensure resources are deployed efficiently and comply with both the project lifecycle and overarching business goals. 

Below are the five key steps in developing a solid resource management plan.

How to effectively manage your team’s workload

Learn how to leverage work management to distribute work more effectively.

Step 1: Resource planning and budgeting

The first step in effective resource management involves detailed resource planning and budgeting. This process includes forecasting resource requirements and matching them to the available budget. 

Example: A tech startup, XYZ Software, begins its journey by planning resources for its innovative project management software. They forecast the demand for qualified software engineers and marketers, set aside money for cloud infrastructure, and make sure their financial resources are distributed effectively between development and marketing.

Step 2: Identify resources (capacity planning)

Identifying the right resources is make-or-break for any project's success. This step, often referred to as capacity planning, involves understanding the availability and skills of your workforce, as well as the physical and financial resources at your disposal. It’s about decision-makers being able to match the right resources with the right tasks, ensuring that your human, financial, and material resources are aligned with your project's needs.

Example: XYZ Software conducts a thorough analysis of its team's skills and identifies the need for additional software engineers with expertise in cloud computing. The company also assesses its current financial resources to ensure sufficient funding is available for these new hires.

Step 3: Allocate resources

Once resources are identified, the next step is their effective allocation. This involves assigning resources to various tasks and projects based on their availability and suitability. Resource allocation ensures that every project gets the necessary resources without overburdening any single aspect of the business.

Example: XYZ Software allocates its existing team to initial development phases, while the newly hired cloud experts are tasked with building the cloud infrastructure. Financial resources are allocated to ensure both teams have the necessary tools and software licenses.

Step 4: Resource tracking

Tracking resources throughout the project lifecycle is essential for ensuring that everything is proceeding as planned. This involves monitoring the usage of resources, assessing if they are meeting the project's requirements, and making adjustments as needed. Effective resource tracking helps in identifying potential shortages or surpluses early, allowing for timely corrective actions.

Example: As XYZ Software's project progresses, they use project management software to track the time and resources spent on each aspect of the project. By doing so, they are able to make adjustments in real time by identifying areas where resources might be overutilized or underutilized.

How to effectively manage your team’s workload

Learn how to leverage work management to distribute work more effectively.

Step 5: Resource optimization

The final step in the resource management plan is optimization. This involves analyzing the performance and usage of resources and making necessary adjustments to improve efficiency. 

Resource optimization might include implementing automation tools to streamline processes or revising strategies based on performance data. Using resources as efficiently as possible is the aim, which will help the organization succeed as a whole.

Example: After launching the first version of their software, XYZ Software reviews their resource usage data. They realize that automating certain testing processes can free up developer time. This enables the team to focus more on critical tasks, thereby optimizing their use of human resources for future updates.

10 resource management best practices

Follow these ten best practices to boost your team’s productivity, hit project goals, and achieve a balanced team workload. 

  • Use a work management platform to streamline the planning process and ensure consistent, efficient allocation of resources across projects. While traditional resource management tools, like Gantt charts or spreadsheets, are useful ways to track capacity, their limited scope can’t match the extensive capabilities offered by a comprehensive work management platform. 

  • Measure available resources by gauging team capacity and necessary tools. This will help you ensure realistic resource allocation and avoid rescheduling issues.

  • Set start and end dates so you get a realistic timeframe for how long each task will take and set realistic expectations for your team. 

  • Know your employees’ skill sets so you can determine the best resourcing for each task. 

  • Set clear, accessible project goals to help you prioritize your team's work and drive high-impact work forward.

  • Help your team increase their utilization rate by automating routine, low-impact tasks so your team can focus on actionable, strategic, and billable work. 

  • Adjust resources as necessary because tasks, project timelines, and priorities change.

  • Keep some team bandwidth open for new work or priorities that might come up. 

  • Check in on your team to ensure each team member feels their work volume is fair and achievable. 

  • Connect your resource management plan to your operational plan in order to effectively manage your team's time and align daily tasks with strategic objectives. 

Manage your resources more effectively with a work management platform

To ensure you’re allocating resources effectively and aligning them to your wider organizational goals, use a work management platform. By centralizing project details and team capabilities in one platform, you can ensure efficiency, clarity, and alignment at every project stage.

How to effectively manage your team’s workload

Learn how to leverage work management to distribute work more effectively.

Resource management FAQs

Have more resource management questions? We’ve got answers.

What is a resource management plan?

A resource management plan can help you manage and assign 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. 

Why is creating and implementing a resource management plan important? 

A resource management plan will guide you by giving a holistic view of all of a project’s moving pieces: budget, staffing and workload requirements, and tech stack limitations—allowing you to easily manage, schedule, and assign every resource while maximizing resource availability. Learning how to manage resources will empower you (and your team) to run projects effectively.

Should I create a resource management plan for my project?

The short answer is yes. Resource management in project management isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have to support your team and prevent burnout. The benefits of resource scheduling far outweigh the time it takes. 

The number of projects your team can handle, along with the quality of each, depends on it. As a project leader, resource management is your opportunity to optimize efficiency, prevent overwork, and effectively manage your team’s workload.

What is a resource management plan template?

A resource management template is a reusable guide that helps you manage team bandwidth over the course of a project. It shows you everything your team is working on—so you can see how full everyone’s plate is, if they can take on additional work, or if they need help to get project tasks done by the deadline. Thanks to your template, you don’t have to waste time setting up a resource management plan for every new project. Instead, you can just copy the template, fill it in, and start working.

What are the steps to creating a resource management plan? 

To create an effective resource management plan, leverage a tool like a work management platform, which will give you easy insight into what everyone on your team is working on, what resources are available, and how to prevent team burnout. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Define the project’s goals to gain clarity on what each project entails and make it easier to know what resources you need and how to assign them. 

  2. Align on the project scope by meeting with project stakeholders to define how much time and resources you should dedicate to the initiative. That will give you the best sense of the project plan and help you decide what resources are best suited for the job.

  3. Identify the types of resources you’ll need—such as bandwidth, equipment, software, and project budget—so you can then identify what resources you have available.

  4. Identify available resources by checking each resource you previously needed against what you have already available. Depending on the project scope, you might have to adjust your resource level and deprioritize other work to avoid putting too much on your team’s plate.

  5. Kick off your project by clearly communicating the resource plan to your team, ensuring everyone understands their roles and the resources at their disposal.

  6. Periodically check in on project progress to see how the project is progressing and whether you need to make adjustments to your resourcing strategy.

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