For any work to be done, you need resources to complete it. So, it is with every project. Any project would need different types of resources for its successful completion and delivery. In fact, resources contribute most to successfully delivering a project. Project Management is not about managing the tasks needed to be done to complete it. Effective Project Management would include managing the resources also, and that too efficiently. So, resource management becomes one of the most important sides of Project Management. There is no doubt if the Project Management team follows the best practices of resource management, it can make a real difference in the project. The manner of planning, organizing, and managing the resources can make a big impact on the success of a project. Therefore, resource management has become an integral part of Project Management. Neglecting the resource management part of Project Management may result in delays or costly oversights. It is therefore important that the significance and concept of resource management are clearly understood by the Project Management team. But before we talk about project resource management, let us first see what is a resource and what resources are usually required for a project.
What is a resource?
A resource for a project can be defined as anything or a person that can be planned or booked for completing the project. Types of resources required for the project may vary depending on the type of project and industry. The advantage of planning and managing the resources is that it ensures that they are used effectively, efficiently, on time, and within the budget. This helps in improving the performance of the project team. And maximizing the performance of the team is one of the most important objectives of any leader.
Types of resources used in projects
The three main pillars, essential for the successful execution of any project are people, processes, and technology, or in other words man, material, and machine. So, for completing a project, you need people, who in turn need material or inputs to carry out their tasks and the technology or method turned into processes to accomplish these tasks. And then, a place is needed where to carry out the project activities. Overall, resources can be divided into human and non-human types at the enterprise level. We will have a look at all of them.
Human resources are the people needed to do the actual work and the physical activities of the project. These are the employees of the organization (both full-time and part-time) and may be some contractual staff too. They perform functions assigned to them. These employees and staff carry different skills and knowledge required to execute the project. We can safely say that human resources form the backbone of any project.
This, as we all know, is like a breath to the project. No project can move forward without adequate financial backing. The resources required for the project can be procured with money only. So, it is one of the most significant resources needed for the project.
The material consists of the things that would be consumed to produce the final product. Of course, consumables would vary from project to project. A software development project would need different materials than a machine-building project. But materials are the inputs that would generate the final output.
Tools and equipment:
This is the machine part of the resources needed to successfully complete the project. Equipment and tools can be of two types, tangible and intangible. The tangible equipment will include plant, machinery, etc. while the intangible equipment would include software, processes, and methods. Once again, the required tools and equipment for the project would change according to the project and organization.
And lastly, a project needs a space for executing it. It could be land, a room, an office, or some other accommodation but a place has to be earmarked specifically for the project activities to be carried out. And it must be ensured that the space is enough to accommodate all the people, materials, and machines and that the project activities can be carried out comfortably.
Having learned about different project resources, let us now, discuss project resource management.
Project resource management:
Project resource management is a key function in Project Management. It is that part of the Project Management process which identifies, plans, organizes, and monitors the resources required for the successful execution and delivery of the project. It is a set of integrated processes through which the Project Managers can determine, procure, and allocate resources. In small projects, the Project Manager himself or herself is tasked with managing the resources. However, in bigger projects, a separate resource manager may be appointed who coordinates with the Project Manager for the smooth flow of resources. Project resource management includes managing both internal and external resources. Project Managers have to take care of resource management from the start of the project to its completion. And for this, they may need some resource management tools and techniques.
In project resource management, plans and processes are built for the effective management of resources. This is necessary for an efficient distribution of the available resources. In simple language, project resource management is about getting the best out of your organization's resources. To get the best out of them, it becomes imperative to track and monitor the performance of each resource as the project progresses. This gives a clear picture of who is doing what and how the resources are being utilized. This way, the Project Manager can take proactive measures to improve the strategic utilization of resources. This also helps in identifying the resources being underutilized so that they can be reallocated to suitable places. With project resource management, the Project Manager would know if enough resources are available to complete the project and how and where the project cost can be reduced. So, we can say that project resource management is an ongoing process starting at the project planning phase and continuing till the end of the project. and with a proactive approach and applying the right solution, a Project Manager can take preventive measures so as to move smoothly toward the objectives of the project.
Now that we know what is project resource management, we will look at the processes related to project resource management.
Project resource management processes
The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is perhaps the most extensively used by Project Management professionals globally. It contains an exhaustive expression of project resource management. According to it, there are six processes of project resource management. We will discuss each one by one. The six project resource management processes are:
Resource management planning:
The first thing is to identify the kind of resources required and their number to achieve the deliverables in the project. But even before that, you need to understand the project. What are its deliverables? What are the expected outputs? What kind of skills and competencies are required? What is the timeframe? What are the milestones? What are the dependencies? All these questions need to be addressed and understood before starting the exercise of identifying the resources. Besides, you need to hear out all the stakeholders about their expectations. You must try to read between the lines also because after all, stakeholders may not express what they want so explicitly. Once you have assessed all the requirements, it becomes easy to define the type of resources needed for the successful completion of the project. Some will have specific skills attached to them and others may have particular size requirements. Now you can clearly know and identify the needed resources for the project. A project resource management plan is usually a component of the overall project plan.
Estimate activity resources:
Now that you have identified what resources you need, you can get more specific now. The estimation of resource requirements for executing the project must always be done at the planning stage. As we said earlier, resources are classified on the basis of type and quantity. Other factors like availability and quality, that could affect the project cost or schedule are also considered. Therefore, at this point estimation of human resources, materials, equipment, tools and technologies, facilities, and supplies required for completing the project is carried out. There are three main methods of estimating that are used in conjunction with bottom-up and top-down estimating. They are Analogous, Parametric, and Three points. This helps in the effective execution of the project. After estimating the required resources, these resources are allocated.
After estimating and allocating resources on the basis of project tasks and the project execution phase has started, it is time to actually get the needed resources as identified in the project resource plan. So, make a decision on how and when you will acquire these resources. For this purpose, consult the project schedule to see when the resources would be needed. The procurement department is notified and it procures the equipment, tools, materials, etc., required for the project. A separate Procurement plan, another component of the Project Management Plan, is put in place and the procurement team purchases the required resources accordingly. At the same time, hiring of the manpower needed of working on the project is started. This can be done internally as well as externally. There may be people in the organization itself who have the skills required for working on the project and some of them might be looking for a new role. They may be shifted to work on the project depending on their suitability for the position. External hiring would mean advertising the positions and filling them with candidates from outside the organization.
Develop the team:
This is a more challenging part as compared to planning, estimating, and acquiring resources because it involves humans. It is not an easy job to develop, manage, and motivate a team. But that is what is precisely needed for successfully delivering the project. So, nurture the conditions that enable people to perform at their best. Clear-cut job descriptions and expectations from the individual members of the team play an important role in this. Provide training to them if needed, find out how you can keep them motivated, give them a feeling of security, and encourage them to communicate freely so that you can get the correct feedback as the project progresses. Most people look for rewarding work and career growth opportunities. So, show them the positive sides of the project. Celebrate with them whenever a milestone is reached or some other achievement is made. Developing the knowledge and skills of the team during the course of the project is another way of keeping them motivated as they will see the opportunity for new learnings.
There is no denying the fact that the project team plays a significant role in completing the project and in its success. Tracking, monitoring, and measuring the performance of the team as a whole and individual members is important both from the point of view of the success of the project as well as boosting the productivity of the team. This is also vital for efficiently managing resources. This also helps in identifying any need for further training or coaching to any member of the team to enhance performance. Therefore, managing the project team is an important component and a key process of project resource management.
Continuously evaluate and control resources:
At the beginning of every new project, everyone starts with positivity. Everyone is usually excited when starting something new. But once the actual work starts and you are in the midst of all the activities, and you are bombarded with requests and queries from the stakeholders, it is then the need for metrics is felt. Continuously evaluating how resources are performing is as important as the resources themselves. You need to regularly assess if the resources are being used efficiently and are doing the work they have been deployed for. And for this, regular, continuous control procedures are required. Also, a regular look at the resource management plan will ensure that the resources are being used as per the plan. For ensuring the optimum use of resources, cost-benefit analysis, and alternate analysis are carried out.
Each project is unique in itself. Whether it is developing some innovative IT solution, launching a marketing campaign, or creating a new product or service, every project is different from others. But one common thing that all projects have is efficient project resource management. With the right kind of project resource management, delivering a project successfully becomes as easy as a walk in the park while on the other hand, the mismanagement of resources can turn your project into a mess. So, use the project resource management processes described above wisely and make sure that you are able to not only complete the project successfully but learn valuable things also.
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