The Project Managers Guide To Resource Planning

Posted by Chris Duddridge on November 6, 2017

guide to resource planning

For professional services firms, the planning of your resources is fundamental to success. Get it right and your projects are likely to be profitable, delivered on time and as per the agreed brief. Get it wrong and your project may be in jeopardy from the start. 


Project Fail’ – On The Up


Alarmingly, studies show the number of reported projects that ‘fail’ are on the rise. Considering this disappointing trend, there will be many project managers that want to learn more about planning their resources and how they can improve.

So, let’s look more closely at what resource planning is and how it can be ‘tamed’.


What Is Resource Planning?


Planning your resouces is all about predicting, assigning and costing out the talent you need to make your project a success.

In a nutshell, it’s about hiring the right talent at the right price at the right time. 



 

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Project Planning


Of course, starting the resource planning process is intrinsically linked to the broader project planning process.

So, for the best chances of success, your team and your client all need a solid understanding of the milestones and tasks ahead to successfully complete the project. 

Once a timeline has been created and agreed, you'll then be in a strong position to assess and assign the resources you have to make what needs to happen, happen. 


Scheduling The Resources


Scheduling the project resources

Sure, this is pretty simple stuff if you are managing a team of one, but what happens if your team extends to five, ten or even thirty experts, all of whom boast various skills and expertise, and all of whom have different availability and rates?

In this situation - with so many variables to consider – planning resources can become a complex business, putting project managers to the test. 


Precision Planning


Nonetheless, it’s vital that you get down to some more serious analysis to establish if your initial resource plan will ultimately reap the rewards everyone expects. The more you can predict, the more likely it’ll be you’ll turn a profit, and this is when technology comes into play.

You're probably no stranger to enterprise resource planning software (ERP). Yet systems vary in their capabilities and when it comes to professional service firms, it's important to have the support of a system that can step up in a project-centric environment. 


  Tweet it out: 'The more you can predict, the more likely it’ll be you’ll turn a profit'


Higher Power


Project-based ERP is built to bring clarity to the constantly changing world of project management. 

It’ll quickly establish if the resources you have in the pipeline are available when you want them, if your people have the skills that will bring the project to life in the way you want and help you ascertain the financial implications of selecting one employee or consultant over another at any given time.


Key Metrics


Key project metrics

The more complex your project is and the more resources you need to complete it, the more you’ll struggle to schedule to get the planning of your resources right without the technological support in place to ‘crunch’ the data and deliver you that perfect person at the right time. 

Among other things, you need to ascertain:

Budget versus actual costs – if the money you’re about to spend on a resource threatens the budget you have allocated at any particular stage. 

Staff utilisation - if you have enough work to keep your people busy, if the right resources are available and if you’re likely to need some outside help. 

Estimate to completion figure (ETC) - how the resourcing decision you’re about to make today effects the project’s profitability tomorrow. 


Change Is Inevitable


There’s no debate that planning resources effectively holds the key to delivering more profitable projects. 

A robust ERP system will help make sense of planning ‘chaos’, empower you to tackle challenges as they arise, and enable you to make better decisions along the way – making ‘project fail’ a thing of the past. 

 

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