Making sure your team doesn’t feel overworked or underutilized is a challenge most leaders experience. In a world where organizations are moving fast—and are often virtual—sometimes employee workload becomes an oversight. 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 to see the full picture on how your team will achieve its goals.
Resource management is the process of planning and scheduling your team’s resources and activities. 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 trying to decide how to manage or assign your team’s resources, consider a few questions:
A resource management plan is used to 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. Your plan will guide you, the de-facto project manager, by giving a holistic view of all of a project’s moving pieces: budget, staffing and workload requirements, tech stack limitations—you name it. You can 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.
Oftentimes we don’t realize our team members are drowning in projects until it’s too late. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Resource management allows you, the manager or team lead, to make sure your team members are confident with the amount of work on their plate, as well as the tools they need to accomplish each task.
An effective resource management plan not only helps you properly assign resources to keep your projects running smoothly, but it also prevents employee burnout. When resource management is done right, you’re empowering your team to produce work at a sustainable rate, with higher quality. Better yet, by knowing they have the capacity to do their best work, your team will feel satisfied at the end of the day.
The short answer: 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 will far outweigh the time it takes. In fact, the number of projects your team can handle, along with the quality of each, depend on it. As project leader, resource management is your opportunity to optimize efficiency, prevent overwork, and effectively manage your team’s workload.
If you’re not already convinced that resource management is critical to your team’s success, let’s dig a little deeper. Check out these advantages you don’t want to miss out on:
When you have a pulse on what your team is working on, you can best assign resources for new projects that pop up. Maintaining a resource management plan from a central source of truth gives you an insider’s look. You can make changes to your resource management plan to prevent overwork and maximize your team’s efficacy. This high-level overview helps you connect the dots from resource to individual task to project timeline and decide if someone’s workload is too heavy or light. This is your opportunity to spot potential problems up front.
You likely know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your team members. As you’re assigning resources, it’s important to keep in mind who will be the most successful with each task or activity. Regularly check in with your team and allow them to be part of the decision-making process. They’ll feel empowered from the start. Be sure you’re using their time effectively by monitoring who’s overloaded on other projects and who has extra bandwidth.
Being transparent with your team ensures that no one is in the dark. This is important because when everyone knows who’s doing what by when, confusion decreases and team members have clarity around their responsibilities. They can see how their part of the project fits into the overall vision for the team or the company. And when a team works well together, projects automatically run better—plus they’re more fun to work on!
There’s no point in setting goals that you know can’t be reached. Instead, project resource management gives you an opportunity to map out what you can realistically get done, and by when. Having everything spelled out, including all necessary resources, helps you pinpoint any dependencies and make adjustments if need be. Sometimes, that means resource leveling your team: readjusting due dates and priorities to a more reasonable due date. Though no one likes missing due dates, proactively resource leveling can prevent your team from missing a deadline all together.
If you’re maintaining a pulse on what each of your direct reports is working on and assigning available resources based on that knowledge, you’ll get better at it over time. As you become more familiar with the resource management process, you’ll be better able to estimate and forecast upcoming bandwidth. This can also help you make a case for more budget or people when a similar project hits your desk while making informed decisions when planning headcount.
You can create a resource management plan in any tool—in fact, you could theoretically even use a spreadsheet to maintain insight into resource utilization and availability. But the best resource management tool is one that acts as your team’s central source of truth.
Asana is a work management tool designed to help teams stay in sync, hit deadlines, and reach their goals. With Asana for resource management, you have easy insight into what everyone on your team is working on, what resources are available, and how to prevent team burnout. With Portfolios and Workload, you can gain clarity into your team’s bandwidth and assign resources from there. Then, once a new project crosses your desk, here’s how you can use your pre-existing understanding of your team’s resources to best staff that project:
In order to best assign your team’s resources, you need to know what the project's goals are. For example, is this a simple blog or article, or a more involved campaign? What metrics will be used to measure the success of your project?
What is the scope of the project? If possible, meet with project stakeholders to align on how much time and resources you should be dedicating to this initiative. That will give you the best sense of the project plan, and help you decide what resources are best suited for the job. At this stage in the process, it can be helpful to practice resource smoothing—which means making sure you won’t have any resource shortages during the project scope and timeline.
As we mentioned earlier, a resource in your resource management plan can include team equipment, software, budget, or employee bandwidth. Part of creating a resource management plan is identifying what types of resources you’ll need, so you can then identify what resources you have available.
This is the meat-and-potatoes of resource management. Ideally, if your team manages projects in a work management tool like Asana, you have a clear sense of what’s on everyone’s plate, and you can easily identify who should be staffed on this project. Depending on the project scope, you might have to resource level and deprioritize other work in order to avoid putting too much on your team’s plate.
To be a great resource manager, check in with your team frequently during the project’s lifecycle. How are they doing? Are they feeling overworked, or, conversely, is the project overstaffed? Clarifying that you support them and—most importantly—understand what’s on their plate is a great way to continuously support your team.
You’re on your way to creating a resource management plan. But do you want to become a resource management master? Try these 11 tips to get started.
What’s better than reading a guide on how to assign 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, Eric, and Reigan.
A big challenge I face when it comes to resource management 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 assigning 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.
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.
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.
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.
Resource management should always be a part of your overall project management plan. While it can seem overwhelming at first, assigning the right resources at the right time will make work much easier as you move forward. Take it step by step and commit to using a work management tool, like Asana. Your team will thank you!
Once your resource management plan is in place and you’ve assigned resources, always remember to identify and highlight employee wins. Celebrating your team’s success helps keep your employees engaged and productive. To use the same tool Jenny, Ariel, Eric, and Reigan are using, take a look at Asana and get work done faster.
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Learn more about why people feel workload stress, how workload stress impacts team productivity, and what you can do to help your team succeed.