A Guide to Project Resource Management for Managers

Effective project resource management describes an organization’s ability to organize and manage what it needs to successfully complete a task or project. These resources include the people, tools, space, and equipment required to complete the task or project.

Understanding project resource management can help businesses plan and manage their projects better, positioning them for future success and business growth. Here’s what all organizations should know about project resource management.

Why is project resource management important?

Project resource management plays an important role in project management because it helps encourage efficiency and discourage waste—essentially, doing more with less. An organization with efficient resource management will have exactly what it needs to complete a project or task without having excess waste that can diminish returns.

Businesses that successfully manage their project resources will find that there are a number of benefits to engaging this specific aspect of project management. Here are a few that your organization may encounter.

  • Better time management: Knowing the resources you’ll need for your project upfront can help you avoid obstacles that might have arisen without proper planning. For example, you won’t have to worry about being short on important materials or not having the space to finish the last piece of your project. If problems are likely, project resource management will help you identify them and plan around them.
  • The ability to avoid overallocation: Once you begin to employ project resource management, you will have better transparency regarding how much your team can handle, their current bandwidth, and how other resources are being used. This can help you better plan if your team can take on new projects and prevents them from experiencing burnout.
  • The ability to stay on budget: Knowing ahead of time what resources a project requires can also help businesses stay on budget. Organizations will be able to plan ahead for the different costs associated with the project and be able to accurately determine projected costs and revenue. This can boost profitability and overall project planning.
  • Improve efficiency: Gathering the necessary resources before beginning a project will help prevent pauses in the workflow to find materials at a later date. Knowing what’s needed for a project beforehand can also help the team accurately measure their return on investment (ROI).

Types of resources in project management

Resources in project management can take a variety of forms, including everything from the people you hire to work on the task or project to the materials you need to complete that task or project. Even the physical space where you need to work must be counted.

Businesses organizing their resources and project plans will want to take into consideration the resources they need from both internal and external sources. Let’s explore what these resource categories comprise of and the types of resources you might look for in each group.

Internal resources

Internal resources are an organization’s own assets. Often, these project resources need to be shared throughout the business, which means that teams need to consider timing and resource allocation to ensure that resources will be available when they need them.

There are a variety of different types of internal resources that you should consider from within your organization. Here are some key examples.

  • Your human resources: Consider the team members you’ll want to pull onto the project or task. Team members may work on a variety of different projects, which may limit their availability. This can be an issue if you need highly specialized team members.
  • Equipment and resources for your project: Teams should also consider whether they will need any specialized software, tools, or other equipment that the business owns to complete their project and if it will be available to them.
  • Space for working: Team members also need to think about the physical space they need to complete their task or project. This might simply be regular times in the conference room, but it could also include specialized work areas or a particularly large conference space to accommodate a growing team.

External resources

External resources refer to any kind of resource that the team has to secure from outside their organization to complete their project or task. For example, if you need to bring in an independent professional to help you design a new website, they would be considered an external resource.

There are a number of different types of external sources that brands need to consider and plan for as they organize their projects. Here are a few types that your group should consider as you prepare for your project:

  • Independent professionals: Many projects or tasks call for the expertise of individuals outside the organization. An increasing number of businesses have realized the value of building hybrid teams of full-time workers and independent professionals that allow them to scale up and down as needed. Using a platform like Upwork can help teams find the talent they need to manage certain aspects of their projects or tasks.
  • Resource suppliers or other vendors: Teams should also consider any suppliers or vendors they might need to complete their project or task. For example, you might need to secure a manufacturer to produce a prototype of a product, or software suppliers to help you manage computing needs for a particular task. Consider all of the outside help you might need.
  • Outside facilities: Many projects might also call for various types of outside facilities, such as testing sites for new product prototypes. Consider what types of specialized spaces the project might need beyond what the company has available internally.

4 project resource planning tips

Once the team understands the importance and value of effective project resource management, it becomes critical to understand how to plan for the different resources needed to complete the project. The planning stage requires careful consideration of factors like the project schedule, budgeting, and resource needs. Here are four tips for getting started with resource utilization planning.


Resource allocation describes the steps that managers take to determine which resources will be used when and by whom. It involves looking at the resources needed at different points in the project, with the goal of assigning them to the appropriate team members and scheduling their usage in the most efficient way.

During this portion of resource management, you’ll procure resources for your projects and see what you have available from a skills, budget, and time perspective. You can then start to determine what you’ll need available to accomplish different parts of the project.

To help with this task, many project managers find the RACI model to be helpful. This methodology uses a chart that outlines the different project tasks and milestones involved throughout the project, including who is responsible for the different parts. Using this project management model makes it easier to chart out the resources needed for the different portions and thus create an accurate allocation plan that uses the available resources wisely.

For example, if you know that you need particular deliverables available for stakeholders to review, proper resource scheduling requires you to schedule a review at a time that you know the stakeholder will be able to conduct the report. This helps ensure that the task is completed as efficiently as possible. It also properly allocates the resources and helps you avoid a bottleneck of tasks, with your team wasting time as they wait for other portions to be completed.

Scheduling resources

As any project manager knows, not all of the project resources needed will be available at all times. While you create your allocation plan, it’s also important to  schedule your resources carefully. These two will link themselves closely together.

Schedule the resources you have marked as important for each step of the project according to the resource availability to best maximize the potential of each resource used. For example, if you need a contract worker to handle an important piece of the project, note when that portion will come up and schedule the time when their expertise will be needed.

Paying attention to this scheduling helps create effective resource management plans with the needed resources available to prevent unnecessary slowdowns, while still being mindful of the budget constraints of the team. Resource management software—such as Monday.com, Float, Teamdeck, and Forecast—may be able to help business leaders create the optimal schedule to fit their needs.

Resource leveling

With leveling resources, project team leaders work to help each member of the organization rise to their full potential. This comes from properly balancing resources. During leveling, the project manager will take a careful look at the resources available and what’s needed, and find ways to fill in any gaps by using everything and everyone to the fullest extent possible.

As the project manager fills out the schedule for the project, they may find that resource scarcity can cause hindrances in completing the project. Limits to the resources mean that it can be easy to fall into the trap of overallocation, such as assigning so much work to team members that they cannot complete their tasks without working overtime.

Leveling helps reduce this risk. Sometimes, it might involve tapping into underutilized resources—including skill sets on the team—to take over certain tasks to improve the resource allocation. Other times, it might involve adjusting task dates within the project so the resources involved do not become too strained. Regardless of the form used, it helps keep resources evenly and effectively distributed throughout the project so people can move forward with their work without running into obstacles.

Measuring and reporting results

As your project or task progresses, you may want to measure and monitor the degree to which your team excels at their work. The more data and metrics you can collect on the specific project, the better picture you will be able to gain from the data.

The data can show a wide range of helpful information, such as how resources were used throughout the project and the impact they had. You’ll want to collect key performance indicators (KPIs) that answer questions like:

  • Were resources allocated well?
  • Where did resources fall short of what was needed?
  • Where did you over-budget for resources and end up with a surplus?
  • How did the allocation and scheduling impact the final outcome of the project?

Using this valuable insight, the organization can continue to improve its resource management and look for areas to make improvements on future projects. It can be used in forecasting the resources needed throughout the life cycle of new projects in the future.

More effective project resource management with the right team

Resource management plays a critical role in successful project management. The ability to understand the resources needed to reach a goal and then allocate those resources to the correct spot benefits the team tremendously in a variety of ways. The resource management plan can help you for the right resources when you need them in real time.

When it comes to staffing your team and taking advantage of onboarding independent professionals to help with particular tasks, Upwork offers the best place to uncover talent and expand your resource capacity. With a global workforce at your fingertips, you can uncover the benefits of incorporating freelance professionals to propel projects forward. See how you can use this resource management tool to your advantage.

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Author Spotlight

A Guide to Project Resource Management for Managers
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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