What is resource management?
Resource management is more than just managing individuals and their tasks, or creating reporting tools and reports. Acquiring, allocating and managing the resources required for a project is a specific task that ensures that internal and external resources, especially those that are scarce, are used effectively, on time and to budget. The timing of the resource management activities has to remain flexible so that it can match any project schedule changes.
The APM Body of Knowledge defines resource management as 'the acquisition and deployment of the internal and external resources required to deliver the project, programme or portfolio’.
The project professional must identify the resources required to deliver the work, as part of planning, and determine when the resources will be required, through scheduling. This forms an essential part of the project management plan.
What are resources?
According to the APM Body of Knowledge, ‘the resources needed to deliver a project, programme or portfolio include people, financial resources, machinery, materials, technology, property and anything else required to deliver the work. Resources may be obtained internally from the host organisation or procured from external sources’. They can also be consumable and/or re-usable.
Why is resource management important?
Defining of resources and their availability, linked with planning of resource demands and related reporting, allows for effective use of limited resources. Standardisation of procedures and processes also saves resources being wasted and finances being spent on the wrong things – a significant cost-saving factor. All of the above contribute to the overall success of the project.
What is the best way to manage project resources?
The best ways to manage resources effectively is to follow the three step process set out below:
Allocation involves identifying what resources are needed to complete the work, ie. the quantity required or the amount of effort required. Aggregation of resources on a daily, weekly or monthly basis shows the total amount consumed at any point in time. Resource scheduling is used to calculate the resources required to deliver the work and when they will be required.
Once you know the resource allocation and understand the consumption, you can then manage the schedule more effectively. In some instances you may need to apply specific scheduling techniques to ensure the project meets its objectives. These include: resource smoothing (used when time constraints take priority) and resource levelling, which is creating a balance of the resource stock, ie. reducing excess and shortages when the availability of resources. Sometimes both techniques may need to be used. The fully-resourced schedule has to be achievable and have the support of the management team.