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How to Measure Your Project Resource Requirements

Shane Riley (Speedcast) - Client Testimonial

MetaPM Team

A 2019 study by PMI found that less than 60% of projects are completed within their established budgets. So if your organisation has struggled with resource management, you’re not alone.

Effective project planning focuses on resources, and resources aren’t limited just to people. They can also be facilities, funding, equipment, process and more. This article will define resource types and resource planning and help project professionals determine resource requirements for their upcoming projects.

What are Resources in Project Management?

When it comes to project management, resources include items needed to deliver a project, programme or portfolio. These could include:

  • People
  • Funding
  • Machinery
  • Labour
  • Time
  • Materials
  • Technology
  • Property
  • Anything else required to deliver the work.

Resources could be obtained internally from the host organisation, or project managers could externally source some of these items. They might also be consumable or re-usable, spanning several concurrent projects in some cases.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of these resources:

People Resources

People are usually the most valuable resource in a project, but they’re measured differently than materials, property and time. It’s much easier to predict how your machinery will perform than your staff, and management of people requires soft skills like communication, leadership and guidance. Past performance will give you clues about how specific people will perform on a project. Keep lines of communication open and talk to the team regarding concerns. 

Funding Resources

In today’s highly competitive environment, companies face increasing pressure to deliver quality projects as they cope with shrinking budgets. 

Funding, therefore, is a critical resource that must be managed carefully. If money is in short supply, you may need to rely more heavily on other resources. However, with careful resource management, you can make the most of your funding, even when it’s limited.

Technology Resources

Increasingly, technology fills resource gaps in projects, automating processes and keeping team members connected. Finding suitable technology has never been easier since many cloud-based programs are available via subscription.

Aside from software, you may need advanced hardware for your project. But, again, planning for accessibility will keep your timeline on track and your costs manageable.

Resource planning is critically important to the success of any project, especially in uncertain times. 

Resource Planning Definition in Project Management

Before thinking about executing a project, a manager must understand the project in its entirety and have a firm grip on how it will proceed through its lifecycle. And resource planning should be an integral part of the preparation stage.

According to Project Management Institute’s Certification Academy, resource planning is the “process of estimating the types and quantities of resources required to perform each schedule activity.”

Determining Resource Requirements for a Project

Project managers get the best results from their planning when they follow specific methodologies for estimating resource requirements, including expert judgement, alternative analysis, published estimating data, project management software and bottom-up estimating. Let’s take a quick look at these resource planning methodologies.

Expert Judgement

Project managers may opt to bring in experts who have accomplished this sort of project before. Their opinions on resource requirements can be invaluable.

Alternative Analysis

With alternative analysis, you consider several different options for how you determine resources. For example, you might vary the number of resources or the type of resources you choose. Often, there’s more than one way to accomplish a task, and alternative analysis helps you choose among multiple possibilities.

Published Estimating Data

In some industries, project managers can rely on published information in articles, journals, books and periodicals to help them predict their resource requirements.

Project Management Software

Many project management software programs include features designed to assist project managers with estimating resource needs and constraints.

Bottom-Up Estimating

With bottom-up estimating, project managers break down complex activities into smaller pieces and then work out resource needs for each section. With a designated need or cost for each piece, it’s easier to add everything up to come up with a total estimate. Bottom-up estimating tends to be very accurate, but it’s time-consuming.

Resource Planning Tools

As you design your resource planning strategy, consider using one or more of these tools.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The work breakdown structure (WBS) is a foundation tool that helps define the scope of a project. It’s the primary input into the development of a project’s schedule, risk plan and budget. 

Product Breakdown Structure (PBS)

The PRINCE2 methodology prescribes a product breakdown structure (PBS) as a tool for analysing, documenting and communicating project plans. This resource planning tool provides a diagrammatic representation of the project that clarifies activities and the resources to accomplish them. 

Agile Epics, Stories, Themes and Initiatives 

In agile project management, project managers break the project into smaller, more manageable chunks. These smaller parts may be divided into themes, initiatives, stories and epics. By working out the resources necessary for each epic, you can calculate your total needs.

Improving Your Project Resource Planning

Resource planning happens right at the start, and it can set your project on a pathway to success. Your next project can beat the odds by staying within your budget and fulfilling your client’s needs.

Here at MetaPM, we tailor cost-effective resourcing solutions to help you meet your targets. Whether you need a couple of days of high end consulting or full-time, hands-on support, our experienced team will get your project on track. To start a conversation about your needs, request a callback. Talk soon!

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