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How to manage your project resources

The project’s been signed off and is all set to go; now comes a tricky part, the management of resources. If you don’t allocate the project’s resources, the project will likely experience delays, run over time or even run out of budget. Whatever the size of the project, managing its resources is essential.

What are resources in project management?

Resources are primarily the project’s physical requirements, such as equipment, building materials, software and other supplies. They also include the people involved, who may be employed across several departments in a company. Keeping the departments working together in every aspect of the project is key to its success. Another key is ensuring that there are sufficient resources available to complete the project. Efficient resource planning is a must from the outset. This establishes a clear, defined schedule of the type of resource needed and when and how it fits in to the project.

What is resource allocation?

Let’s start with an explanation; resource allocation is sourcing, assigning, scheduling and managing a project’s resources in the most cost-effective, efficient way to lead to the successful completion of the project. The project manager determines the resources needed, how and when they are allocated, and the timing of resource use within the project’s schedule.

Step 1: establish a scope

Before allocating any resources, determine the scope of the project. That includes the size and timeframe of the project. The clearer and more defined the project’s scope, the easier it is to allocate resources. Next, identify the required resources, which of them need to be purchased and the space that may be required.

Step 2: manage risk

Plan for the unpredictable. Most projects experience problems; the key is to try to anticipate them and ensure the resources are there to resolve issues as quickly as possible. A resource plan will help flag up warnings and potential risks before they occur, enabling project managers to resolve them before they get out of hand and additional resources need to be brought in, i.e. scheduling for staff on holiday or off sick.

Step 3: monitor

If no-one monitors resources and their allocation on a daily basis, then expect problems to arise later into the project. A project manager’s job is to ensure resources are not over- or under-used. Keep track of materials being used and monitor equipment being used to ensure its working to full capacity. Watch the team’s workload and make sure that no-one is overloaded or not being used to their maximum potential.

Be realistic and make sure resources are not over-allocated. The better the planning, the less likely it is that resources are over-allocated. Correct planning and regular monitoring leads to satisfied teams and no remaining stock at the end of the project.