In today’s competitive business environment, where business organizations of all sizes are striving to embrace digital transformation and artificial intelligence to gain a competitive edge, managing a wide variety of projects efficiently has become more important than ever. The discipline of project management, along with resource management, has become critical around the globe.
Resource management is the proper acquisition and utilization of various resources needed by these projects, with the right strategy to maximize efficiency and deliver projects successfully within the constraints of time and budget. In other words, effective resource management is indispensable to project management as it ensures that the right resources are used optimally to execute projects successfully.
This article will walk you through the key aspects of resource management.
Before we delve into the details of resource management, let us understand what resources are. Let’s take this simple real-life example. Suppose you have to ‘cook’ for a few guests coming to your home. That right there is a project!
After you decide what dishes are to be cooked and in what quantity (scope of the project), the next thing is to determine the ingredients list and getting them ready. Now, every single item that is required for the process of cooking the food for the guests (the client) can be termed as a resource. The kitchen is the facility or the “project site”, the ingredients are the materials, the utensils are the tools and machinery required for a project, the cooking gas or electricity are the consumables…. you get the idea!. Each of these items is a different type of resource needed for the project. The money spent in the entire process can be termed as the budget or the funding for your project; and you and your assistants, including their knowledge and culinary skills, are the human resources (the people involved in a project and the knowledge and skills they bring to the project or the organization as a whole).
In other words, resources can be anything (humans, knowledge, skillset, tools, machinery, equipment, materials, consumables, capital, etc) that help a business execute a project, deliver value, and achieve its goals.
Some common issues faced by every project manager are:
Let’s continue with the above-mentioned example. You have all the ingredients and other resources in place. Now, the challenge is to use the right ingredient for the right dish and in correct quantity. Over- and under-utilization of any ingredient or using the wrong ingredient will hamper the taste of food. The same applies to human resources as well. The right task should go to the right person with the required skill. Managing all the resources in a proper manner and in the right proportion will make your cooking endeavor a successful one. And, you, being the project manager, shall supervise the tasks. This is the concept of ‘resource management’, that is, using the right resource in the right way to achieve desired result.
Resource Management involves identifying the resources for a project, assigning or allocating them to the specified tasks of the project, working out the imbalance between the need and the availability of resources; and then actually managing them once the project has been fully staffed with all the required resources. In addition, project managers are expected to provide forecasts of their future resource requirements based on project scope and progress and give an overall estimation of resource requirement, time and budget based on a bottom-up estimation process. These key activities are described below in brief.
The key activities of resource management involve – resource estimation/ forecasting based on project scope and duration, allocation of resources to the project, monitoring and managing resource utilization to ensure optimal usage, and finally, managing resource dependencies, conflicts and shortage using techniques such as resource smoothing and leveling.
Some specific methods for each of these are described below.
We hope this article gives you a fair understanding of resource management and its key activities. Resource management, if done right, provides project managers and leaders with a transparent view of all available resources in the organization which prevents business leaders from taking up projects with unrealistic demands and goals. It ensures that when you are entrusted with a project, you have a structured breakdown of the processes that need to be followed and a clear insight into the resources required to carry out the processes in a planned manner.
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