Resource management — what it is, and why it’s important for your business
As a business leader, a big part of your job is optimizing company performance. Maybe you’re collaborating remotely with your team to complete work. Maybe you’re trying to manage strategic outcomes project-by-project. Or maybe you’re looking to organize projects and mitigate risk.
Whatever the case, good resource management is crucial. Learning how to assess, allocate, and correctly utilize your resources — such as people, time, and money — is a valuable skill that will make project management easier than ever. To help you make the most of resource management, we’re going to discuss:
- What resource management is
- Why resource management is so important
- 4 key resource management techniques
- The 4 basic steps of resource management processes
- Resource management tools
- Resource management use cases
What is resource management?
Resource management is the practice of deciding where and how to use your budget, time, and team capacity. This allows you to maximize these resources by assigning the best assets to each task.
A resource is anything you need to complete a project. Examples of resources might include:
Tangible assets like equipment or company property
Team members and their skills, knowledge, and abilities
By allocating these resources strategically, you can boost efficiency and improve outcomes.
For good resource management, you need visibility into everything you have to work with — from budgets to tools to team members. You also need the ability to update or reassign projects as needed as well as good communication tools that allow you to keep everyone on the team aligned in real time.
Why resource management is so important
Resource management isn’t just for enterprise companies. As a discipline and a practice, resource management offers a host of benefits for organizations of any size.
For example, executives spend an average of 23 hours per week in scheduled meetings, according to Harvard Business Review, and 71% of these business leaders feel that meetings are not efficient or productive. Properly utilizing resource management can ensure your team members are spending their time most efficiently.
Resource management allows you to:
Make simple, reliable plans. Taking stock of your resources gives you a solid view of what’s available and when. This makes the planning process simple and your plans more dependable.
Optimize resources. Structured visibility helps you make the best possible use of each team member’s time and skills, as well as other resources like money or technology.
Prevent burnout. When you manage your resources strategically, you can spread out work so you don’t overburden any one team member.
Minimize disruptions. There will always be unforeseen complications, but good resource management minimizes these as much as possible.
Prove impact. When something goes wrong, you’ll be able to see whether your team did everything they could. And when projects go well, you can accurately quantify your team’s efficiency.
4 key resource management techniques
Resource management is a big job — and the specific strategies used will vary based on any number of factors, like the size of your organization or your leadership style. But there are multiple techniques that have evolved to help with specific scenarios, such as planning future projects or adjusting in the middle of a project.
Each of these techniques is slightly different, but they all have the same end goal of helping you manage your resources as efficiently as possible.
Resource forecasting is the process of predicting what resources will be needed for a future project. It helps you anticipate your company’s upcoming needs so you can be prepared to meet those needs. Forecasting also helps you anticipate potential problems so you can navigate these obstacles with ease should they come up.
Resource forecasting takes place during the planning and prep stage of a project. As you map out the project, you’ll simultaneously identify the resources you need. To figure out what resources will be needed and what’s available to meet those needs, you’ll want to consider:
- The scope of the project
- The availability and skills of your team members
- Your budget
Forecasting gets easier the more you practice resource management. For example, you might not have all the details you need to figure out team members’ capacity the first time you try to forecast resources. But as you gather time-tracking data over a number of projects, you will be able to more easily forecast your team’s availability to work on a certain project.
Resource allocation, sometimes called “scheduling,” is the process of giving each task on your list the best resources you have available. You’ll designate your equipment, time, and team members’ expertise for the projects you have on deck — giving each task the best resources you can.
Resource allocation is important because it helps you optimize the resources you have. For example, matching up your employees’ skillsets with the right tasks helps you get the most out of your team because nobody’s talent will be wasted. Getting resource allocation right will maximize productivity, confidence, and efficiency. This improves the employee experience as well because team members feel valued and get to make good use of their expertise.
A big part of resource allocation is knowing when your resources will be available and scheduling them to line up with your project. This means you also need to have a good idea of the project’s scope. Once you’ve identified your resources and the project details, use resource management software with a full-visibility calendar to match up what needs to go together.
Resource utilization measures your efforts and shows how much of your available resources are being used. It helps you find any resources that aren’t being used to the best of their abilities. This technique is a good way to determine which resources need to be allocated differently.
Find your team’s resource utilization rate by dividing billable hours (or allocated hours) by resource capacity. You can measure utilization in days, hours, or as a percentage of time available.
If you have overallocated resources or are allocating them incorrectly, you might need to do some resource leveling. Resource leveling is the process of correcting issues and adjusting timelines or budgets so that you can complete a project with the best available resources.
Resource leveling makes sure no one is overworked but that the project can still get done on time. Unlike forecasting and allocation, leveling is a resource management technique that leaders sometimes need to use in the middle of a project.
There’s no standard formula for resource leveling because it depends on what’s going wrong and what you need. If your team is overworked, leveling might look like bringing additional resources onboard to help complete a project or tweaking the project’s due date to allow everyone a little extra time and space to get the job done.
It can be helpful to assess your deadlines and priorities or create a project roadmap that will highlight places you’re falling short.
The 4-stage resource management process
There are multiple stages of resource management during any one project, and these four stages are flexible. You may choose to complete them in a different order than listed here or adjust them on the fly as you settle into a project. However you use them, the steps below provide a general overview of the resource management process and offer a good place to start.
1. Scope out resources
The first step is to scope out the resources you’ll need. These might include:
People with certain skills, experience, or expertise
Tools or software
A software that has time-tracking capabilities and space to list employee skills will give you insight into the availability and expertise of your human resources. Understanding available resources is essential to helping you allocate them correctly.
2. Assemble and allocate
Once you know what resources are needed to complete the project, it’s time to assemble and assign those resources. Gather people together and brief them on the project details. For remote teams, this might look like Microsoft Teams meetings or digital briefs explaining processes and workflows. Make sure you have all the skills and software you might need.
Then it’s time to allocate and assign specific resources to specific tasks using a project management tool. Ensure you’re providing your team members with everything they need to do their jobs. This is especially important for remote teams because it’s easier for communication to fall through the cracks.
3. Manage resources
Continue actively managing the team through the project. If you find that you have overallocated resources or allocated them incorrectly, start resource leveling as soon as possible.
The final stage of resource management is review. Ask questions such as:
How well did you meet your goals?
What worked better than you anticipated?
What problems did you have?
When you begin a new project, you’ll start over by scoping out your resources again. The information you glean in the final review stage on previous projects will be useful as you move on to the next project.
For example, you might realize that your goals were too lofty and need to be adjusted. Or your review may indicate that you were slightly under budget, showing that you managed this resource well. If you had problems with the team members who worked on this project, consider how you can find a better fit for their skills and expertise next time.
Resource management tools
Resource management takes a huge effort. In many organizations, it’s too big to do alone — and that’s why there are several resource management platforms on the market. These solutions can help organize and manage resources by providing easy visibility into everything and everyone you’re working with. They’re also great tools for organizing and managing those resources and reviewing the project when completed.
Look for a resource management tool that includes key features that will benefit your company and that can:
Provide a single view of what matters. You should be able to see your entire team’s bandwidth on a single calendar. This will enable you to allocate resources more efficiently because you’ll save time by viewing everyone’s availability on a single page.
Make it easy to manage team members. A good resource management software will give you full visibility into your employees’ working styles and have the ability to assign or unassign tasks as needed. This will streamline communication and provide you with the information you need to match up employees with tasks and projects that are a good fit for them.
Integrate with existing systems. Your team may already use Slack, Dropbox, or Google Drive to share files. Find a tool that integrates with the platforms they’re familiar with. There’s no headache like trying to transition your entire company to a new platform, so software that integrates with your current systems is key to making everyone’s lives easier.
Automate repeatable workflows. Save yourself countless hours by letting artificial intelligence (AI) take over tedious, repetitive tasks like inputting data into a spreadsheet. Automation will free up your team members to invest their time into other tasks that require their unique insights and skills.
To find the best resource management software for your team, make sure you have a good idea of your needs. Think about what capabilities you want the tool to have, like communication features, reporting, or automation. Consider how your existing tools and systems fall short and look for a solution that fills in the gaps.
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, research relevant software. Take a product tour of the tool you’re considering and read reviews from previous customers to make sure the software lived up to its promises.
Resource management use cases
Companies in every industry use resource management to get work done efficiently and well. Take a look at how these brands used resource management to drive measurable business success in the real world.
Doubling the capacity of people and projects
UK design agency Foolproof doubled the capacity of both its people and projects with resource management. The agency’s project managers had plans for client engagement, but keeping track of progress was difficult because these plans weren’t accessible online in a single location.
So Foolproof began using employee time tracking and project templates as well as automated reporting. These solutions allowed Foolproof to have utilization forecasting accuracy within 10% for four weeks out. The agency also now saves 24 hours in weekly reporting time.
Winning more resources
Good resource management can help you get even more resources, as demonstrated by Heifer International. Heifer’s IT organization was swamped with projects, and its existing spreadsheet solution wasn’t cutting it.
Heifer turned to a resource management tool to help its employees focus — working through projects following the correct sequence of events. The time tracking and overall visibility made a massive difference in productivity for the entire team.
Acoustic technology company Sound Solutions did not have a central project overview where employees could see ongoing projects, making it difficult for the brand to optimize its processes and become more competitive.
But good resource management enabled Sound Solutions to set up a one-stop project management tool for the entire team. They could then obtain the data needed to make decisions about projects and workloads. Accessing this data made it far easier for Sound Solutions to proceed with forward planning.
Stanley Black & Decker team members were losing time doing busy work like manually updating data systems. When system operation manager Monique Evans began looking for ways to streamline workflows and increase productivity, this became one of her top priorities.
Evans decided to eliminate the need for manual data entry by implementing AI into her workflow, letting automation take over all data-related tasks as well as reporting and tracking. Now her teams can focus on more important work — and the company’s productivity and efficiency have dramatically increased.
Work quickly ramped up for Thermo Fisher Scientific when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The company needed a way to quickly scale up and provide scientists and doctors with the equipment that would help them fight the virus — and shifting to a completely remote work model at the same time was difficult.
Marketing operations manager Amy Zakrzewski realized she needed to take steps to improve production efficiency while still meeting compliance regulations. So Thermo Fisher began to remotely collaborate on content creation to keep up with market demands. In doing so, the company reduced overall project duration by 20% and achieved a 24% reduction in the target duration of legal review.
Take resource management to the next level
Resource management helps you optimize the resources at your disposal, allowing you to get high-quality work done more quickly and efficiently. Proper resource management also minimizes disruptions and prevents your team from burning out.
If you’re kicking off a new project soon, remember to start by fully scoping everything you need upfront. Prioritizing the tasks involved before you begin is the best way to set yourself up for success. If you’re worried that your current resource management software isn’t up to task, Adobe Workfront can help.
Take a free interactive product tour to see how easy it is for you to ensure the right people are working on the right initiatives. Plan your team’s work, streamline processes, and measure your progress to make sure you’re ahead of where you need to be.