Resource Planning: Definition, Meaning, Importance And Process Steps
Ayush is a young and talented leader who’s recently become a senior project manager for his event management organization. Following…
December 23, 2021 | 6 mins read
Ayush is a young and talented leader who’s recently become a senior project manager for his event management organization. Following his promotion, Ayush has to oversee two projects that are approaching their deadlines immediately. While finishing these projects, Ayush realizes that his organization is still working with the resource tools of yesterday. When it comes to modern techniques, Ayush must define resource planning from scratch.
After the two projects are somehow completed, Ayush requests a meeting with personnel from all departments in the organization. With a laser-sharp presentation, he explains the meaning of resource planning and the latest resource tools, which will change the way he and his colleagues operate.
Within two years of all teams implementing Ayush’s resource plan, the organization generates a decent profit.
How to define resource planning and allocate resources appropriately? Perhaps no other question dogs project managers more than this one. While many attempts have been made over the years to define resource planning, the most effective resource planning definition is still the simplest one. Resource planning refers to an organized strategy for judicious utilization of resources for a particular project or a series of projects.
At its core, the resource planning definition involves distributing and allocating tasks among team members based on their attributes. Without resource planning, it’s not feasible for any organization to manage utilization rates, track the performance levels or capacities of employees, keep budgets on track or monitor the overall progress of a project.
At a societal level, the meaning of resource planning and its application is vital. It allows organizations to consider sustainable ways of using resources to assure regional, national and international stakeholders that specific resources aren’t harmed or damaged in any way.
For most project managers over the years, the resource planning definition has included manually arranging resources or using spreadsheets for planning. But with the development of technology, in particular project management software, resource planning has grown in leaps and bounds. To define resource planning today also includes the various forms of software that enable intricate and immediate resource planning for all varieties of projects.
Before understanding the resource planning process and the resource planning steps, it’s worthwhile to look at the importance of resource planning, which is explained as follows:
A resource planning tool is anything that allows organizations to better sort, arrange and allocate their resources. Nowadays, most resource planning tools are composed of project management software. These software programs take into account the multiple factors influencing resources, including availability, contracts and capabilities of employees, to facilitate smooth resource planning. Examples of four such software programs that have emerged as trendy resource planning tools for project managers are as follows:
The resource planning process generally consists of seven steps:
The first and obvious step in resource planning concerns selecting which project an organization wants to take up and coming up with a concrete outline for the execution of the same. This is also the stage where the preliminary resources for a project are determined and requested for access. Laying out project tasks is another vital element of this step, as is allocating a rough amount of time for completion of each task.
Most employees aren’t fans of meetings, but without a resource meeting that has the entire team on board ahead of a project, it’s impossible to ensure a uniform vision for every team member. At resource meetings, individual and collective roles are assigned and explained, and key metrics for the evaluation of a project are established. Some organizations also like to keep the determination of resources for this step rather than the previous one; they feel the resource meeting is when the exact need for resources becomes clearest.
In this phase of the seven resource planning steps, project managers use the sophisticated software programs at their disposal to match resources to tasks as part of managing team workloads. This is done to see where teams might need support, where new employees may be required and when and how department shuffles could be necessary.
In project management, budgeting and timing are often correlated. Budgets can be within limits and feasible if a proper timeline is constructed for projects and strictly adhered to. On the other hand, budgets can spiral out of control should deadlines be neglected or modified constantly. As part of the resource planning process, a project manager has to continually keep their budget in check while stacking it against the timeline to see how the funds can be managed as the project keeps progressing.
To be a competent project manager, it’s not enough to keep tabs on the present – one has to be mindful of how a project might shape up in the future. This is especially true for long-term projects that are supposed to be executed for more than two quarters. Forecasting future planning is basically about understanding what sort of a management approach to take in keeping with the changing circumstances around a project. Some common approaches include accelerating the project at a breakneck speed when everything is on track, ticking along slowly and steadily no matter the circumstances and holding back in the initial stages of the project to be extra cautious that no mistakes are made.
The penultimate step in the resource planning process can often be the hardest, as organizations must show flexibility to shift or completely re-orient their plans based on real-time changes. Some of these changes can be a result of slow approvals, unforeseen alterations in scope, team members dropping out, or a sudden breakdown of the timeline.
Once a project is completed, it’s the task of a project manager to sit down and analyze what could’ve been done better. Should the project have allocated work hours differently? Should freelancers have been brought in at any stage? Should conflict resolution mechanisms have been altered at a certain point? All these questions that crop up after a project is done are a necessary step to making the next project an even better one.
To be a successful project manager and ace the extremely demanding resource planning process, you need to harness the most fundamental leadership skills. Harappa’s Lead With Empathy program does just that by equipping you with the tools required to engage empathetically, navigate conflict and be the perfect team player. Through frameworks such as The ABC of Empathy and The Two Lenses of Trust, our world-class faculty will prepare you to build a great team culture, create and foster trust and boost team outcomes.
Sign up for Harappa’s Lead With Empathy pathway right now and learn to revolutionize your approach to resource planning.