The guide to effective resource management in 5 steps
Managing project resources may seem, at first glance, a complex task. Especially in large companies or companies that work on different projects at the same time. However, by following a series of steps and with the support of certain technological solutions, it is possible to carry out truly effective resource management, in an agile and organized way.
What is resource management?
Resource management is a process that includes inventorying, analyzing, planning, coordinating, using and tracking all tools and elements available to successfully complete a project.
How important is resource management?
Good resource management is essential because it is the basis of the viability of a project. It includes setting objectives, planning based on the budget, checking the availability of resources and monitoring them.
It must be based on three key values: efficiency, sustainability and cost reduction.
- Efficiency. Use as few resources as possible to achieve maximum performance with impeccable time management.
- Sustainability. Sustainable management that avoids limiting resources and allows them to give their best without overload or overwork likely to compromise the project.
- Cost reduction. Maximize the return on investment, by reducing costs as much as possible without putting the project at risk, while respecting the deadlines and objectives set.
The three main types of resources to allocate in businesses
Many resources can be part of a project. Most of them fall into one of the following categories. The three main types of resources are:
- Material and technical resources. These include tools, elements, licenses, equipment, machines, premises, etc. which should be used to achieve the project objectives.
- Human ressources. The staff we will need. These are training, availability, skills, competencies, performance, etc.
- Financial ressources. Financial resources necessary to carry out the project. They include bank loans, liquidity, alternative sources of financing, investments and expected returns, etc.
The 5 steps to managing effective resource management
Proper management and use of resources involves five key steps:
- Define project objectives
- Plan and budget for the achievement of objectives
- Identify the necessary resources (also known as capacity planning)
- Identify available labor and allocate it. This is the planning and resource allocation stage.
- Ensure project monitoring
1. Define the project objectives
The first step in resource management is to clearly define time, financial, and other goals.
If we don't know how much time we have to complete a certain project, it will be difficult to determine the amount of resources we will need to complete it, for example.
Let's imagine that a consulting firm needs to carry out a market study on worker motivation in Spain. The first step is to define:
- When should I submit the report?
- In what format , only online or also in physical format?
- Is the goal to present the results to the public or to sell them privately to companies that might be interested in such analysis?
The answer to these questions will determine the objectives to which, as we will see, resources should be allocated.
2. Plan and budget the project
After establishing the objectives, it is necessary to define the details of the project and a roadmap for its execution. This is the time for strategic planning, establishing tasks to be completed and a timetable for each of them. Based on this information, we will establish a forecast budget which will take into account the following elements
- Cost of technical resources (materials, services, software) that will be required.
- Cost of human resources , based on their professional profile and key skills to carry out the project.
- Financial costs (provisions, credits, etc.).
Let's take the example of market research again. Consider that the consulting company intends to make the data public at a press conference on May 25. He decided to provide the survey results both in physical form and online.
This is the definition of the project. The planning associated with this project would be as follows:
- Conducting a survey of employees between April 1 and 15.
- Preparation of a report based on the results obtained from April 15 to 30.
- Design of the report online and on paper from May 1 to 15.
- Organization of the event – press conference – presentation, between May 1st and 20th.
Each of these tasks may include other subtasks, for example:
- Organization of the event
- Finding a venue for the event.
- Training of spokespersons to present the study.
- Call to media and customers
- Invitation design
- Compilation of emails from potential event guests.
- Plan to promote the event on social networks.
- Organization and conclusion of a catering contract.
- Organization of lighting and sound system.
Not to mention that each of these questions must have a cost associated with them that must be taken into account when planning and controlling the budget . Not only the cost of materials, suppliers, etc. but also the cost in hours of employees involved in the process.
It will be necessary to estimate, for example, how many hours it will take to reserve a space for the press conference (calls, visits, etc.), and what is the hourly cost of the person who will carry out this task.
3. Identify the necessary resources (capacity planning)
All needs and tasks associated with the project require appropriate resources. This process of identifying project needs (demand) and aligning them with adequate resources (supply) is capacity planning or capacity management.
On the supply side of resources, adequacy depends on the criteria of skills, availability and motivation of people. Additional complexity arises when a given organization manages multiple projects in parallel. It will then be a matter of planning this approach by intelligently distributing human resources.
On the demand side for resources, that is to say on the needs side, there are several levels of criteria to take into account. In the short term, as close as possible to the field, the pipe commercial, in other words the projects or missions with the greatest chance of being won will determine the needs in terms of profiles. In the medium and long term, it is the market and the company's strategy that will determine the profile needs. What will customers’ needs be in the future? What skills will be in demand? What positioning and needs will the company seek to satisfy?
The Stafiz platform integrates key capacity planning functions for service companies: multi-criteria search for internal or external profiles, management of needs and degrees of suitability.
4. Identify available staff and organize them (resource allocation)
This involves knowing exactly the personnel we have and coordinating the actions to be carried out by each of them. This personnel management involves a detailed assessment of human resources, which is structured around three key points:
- Check that they are available . This point is particularly important in companies that have several projects in progress. We have a design team who will be responsible for the layout of the report. But do they really have the time to take on a new project or will it be necessary to outsource this function to be on time?
- Capacity planning. This is to check that they have the necessary skills . In the example project, it was decided that the design would be done on both physical and paper media. Do the designers have the skills required for production in both formats?
- Evaluate motivation : How do the employees who will be involved in the project feel about the project? It is interesting to carry out a previous performance evaluation, which can be used to set new milestones in the employee's professional plan. It is also important to know if the employee is actually ready and motivated to take on this new challenge.
With all this information, and once the previous steps have been completed, we can begin to develop the load plan and calculate it to distribute tasks using GANTT charts, staff tables and adequate load balancing of work.
5. Ensure project monitoring
We still need to track resources to corroborate that everything is going as planned. Both from an economic point of view and in terms of personnel management. These two factors are essential so that, in practice, the project leads to the achievement of the set objectives.
The first thing to do for project accounting monitoring is to establish the project invoicing method. The main methodologies are as follows
- Invoicing upon complete delivery of the project.
- Establish time or other types of milestones to bill the project percentage by percentage, and based on the achievement of those milestones.
- Billing by the hour . From time to time, we count the number of hours invested, which have previously been associated with a cost that the client will have to pay.
Depending on the chosen methodology, we will carry out one or the other financial monitoring. In the first case, proactively we need to monitor costs versus work performed, to determine if we are on track. If we detect inconsistencies, we will need to adopt measures, such as optimizing resources, reducing costs or other measures that will help us meet the planned profitability.
In the case of billing in stages or by the hour , the methodology is the same. The only difference is that it will be mandatory to carry out this tracking to receive payments. If we delay this monitoring, we delay obtaining liquidity. In any case, project control software greatly facilitates this task of financial monitoring and decision-making, with very useful features such as:
- Financial readjustments and reorganization of tasks in a rapid and agile manner.
- Access to information on costs, cost sources, project profitability, etc. in real time.
The last step in correctly monitoring financial resources is to correctly calculate the profitability or margin that the project leaves us. (Re)discover 12 project financial indicators to follow .
Again, project management software provides real-time data on costs and billing. This allows us to quickly detect whether, in fact, margins are in line with expectations. And, if this is not the case, to highlight the elements that hinder it.
Personnel monitoring and administration
Particularly in projects billed by the hour, it is essential to know the actual performance of professionals . In other words, how much of the work they do on a day-to-day basis is actually billable to the client. To find out, there is the charging rate .
This is the percentage of time an employee spends on billable projects versus non-billable projects.
Now imagine that the example report is not public. This is work we are doing for another consulting company who will pay us to have exclusive access to the information we provide. In this case, it is a billable project.
If a designer in the marketing department spends 5 hours per day this week on the layout and design of this report, their workload rate is 71.42% . Five billable hours, compared to two non-billable hours, as part of their working day, or seven hours per day in total.
This data is very important for monitoring a project, because it allows teams and workloads to be reorganized in real time, without losing sight of the profitability per worker, their costs and the value of the time they invest in their daily work.
Frequently asked questions
What is the objective of resource management?
The main objective of resource management is to obtain an overview of all tools, equipment and personnel, in order to plan the execution of a project in the most cost-effective manner and in the shortest possible time.
Who is responsible for resource management?
Different professional profiles can be responsible for resource management. Typically, the project manager is primarily responsible. But at the same level, or at a higher level depending on the company hierarchy, we also have the financial director or the human resources director.
Depending on the size of the project, the resource manager may also be the department head, a manager or a senior executive.