Right at the project-planning stage, managers must know if enough resources and capacity are available to complete the project and achieve the set goals. Resource management ensures that the right resources (be it employees, equipment, finances, facilities or others) are available at the right time to achieve the organization’s objectives. All these need to be in sync for the successful completion of any project.
What Is Project Management?
Each project consists of several stages, and the project manager is responsible for the planning and smooth execution of all these while ensuring that projects are carried out on time and within the set budget.
Project management consists of:
- Application of methods and skills
- Directing and monitoring the performance of resources, and
- Reviewing all the processes that go into completing a project.
The main objective of it is to ensure that the client’s requirements are met and all project goals are delivered on time and within budget.
What Is Resource Availability?
Project managers must assign resources to each task of a project. To do this, they must first know what skills and resources are required for the project and then be aware of their availability to them. They have to allocate the right resource to the right task at the right time for the project to be successful.
Resource availability refers to information about what resources are at the manager’s disposal for a project. It includes:
- which resources (manpower, facilities, equipment, etc) are available to be used
- what skills do these resources have that match the project requirements
- when these resources will be available for the project under consideration, and
- under what conditions these resources will become available.
Tracking and analyzing the resource pool is not simple, but it is critical to the success of a project. Resources are often shared amongst projects and need to be booked in advance. Checking availability is especially important for those resources that must be renewed periodically, like employees’ skills, vacation time, etc.
Keeping track of varied resources and projects can be challenging. Managers use planning and analytics tools like resource management software to track resource availability effortlessly and efficiently. These give managers an overview of which resources are available, and they can assign tasks accordingly. Resource management is thus a strategic part of project planning.
Once resource availability has been determined, the manager must also keep in mind the resources needed for the project, i.e., the resource demand. Project requirements and timelines change all the time, so he must make sure that additional resources are easily accessible so that the project can continue uninterrupted.
What Affects Resource Availability?
Even if you start with adequate resources for a project, several factors can push it off-track during its life cycle. Without efficient resource planning, managers may find themselves facing a resource crunch. Here’s what may affect resource availability:
- Resource limitations – If existing resources are not adequate, the organization may need to acquire additional resources (hire more people, purchase additional equipment, etc).
- Specialized skills – Some projects may require very niche skills not available within the organization. Managers must either hire new resources (full-time, part-time or freelancers) or upgrade the skillsets of the existing resources.
- Budget constraints – Financial constraints may hinder how many resources a business can utilize for a project.
- Project priority – The scope and profitability of a project determine how the company prioritizes it. The project manager will likely allocate more resources for a high-priority project vis-a-vis a low priority.
- Integration of the project – If the project does not in sync with the business goals of the organization, then managers may not make too many resources available for it.
A shortage of resources can lead to schedule uncertainty and the difference between the organization taking up or preceding the project. An overview of who’s available (either fully or partially) and when to take up tasks can help managers plan the projects better. Having access to the schedules of resources helps ensure that they are utilized optimally.
Importance Of Resource Availability in Project Management
Keeping track of the resources available is important. Not only must there be adequate resources available, but they also must be managed and utilized efficiently. Insufficient or improper resource utilization can lead to delayed or even derailed projects. The resources may also end up being exhausted if the goals or timelines set are unreasonable.
Smart resource management and planning drive the success of a project, and knowing the exact resource availability helps managers make sensible decisions by:
- Telling them if the organization can take on a new project. Knowing how many resources are at their disposal can be critical while deciding whether to pitch for or accept a new project.
- Helping them make sensible decisions on allocating resources across projects for maximum profitability.
- Helping track resource workloads. Managers can balance the workloads of resources and assign tasks to ensure that no one is overworked or sitting idle.
- Leading to more effective resource utilization. Monitoring resource availability gives managers a clear picture of how resources are being utilized, and they can reallocate resources that are being overworked or underutilized for maximum efficiency.
- Helping avoid project conflicts. Managers can prioritize tasks and projects and allocate resources intelligently once they are aware of the exact resource availability, especially in the case of shared resources.
- Giving managers the information they need to know if they can change or add to the scope of the project with the existing resources.
- Highlighting skill gaps. Managers may decide to train existing resources to upgrade and enhance their skill sets to bridge the gap.
- Affecting hiring plans. Managers can make informed hiring decisions to bridge the gap between existing resource capacity and expected resource demand.
Challenges Arising from Poor Tracking of Resource Availability
Businesses often have multiple ongoing projects, with a matrix model, spread across geographies. Effective resource planning and management is key to the success of projects, and it can lead to severe consequences if done improperly.
- Poor resource allocation. If projects and tasks are not prioritized, the resources may be allocated to non-priority or ‘busy-work’, leading to non-optimal output.
- Inefficient resource utilization. If managers are unaware of the resources and skills, some resources may not be utilized to maximum capacity, or their skills may be underutilized.
- Lack of balanced scheduling. Managers need a 360-degree view of resource availability and allocation if scheduling conflicts and over-or underutilization of resources are to be avoided.
- Lack of alignment in project schedules and resource calendars. Managers need to keep abreast of when employees may be taking vacations or equipment is due for maintenance so that they can schedule resources accordingly. It may lead to date-clashes otherwise.
- Inability to enhance or upgrade skillsets in real-time. Technology changes constantly and employees need to keep their knowledge base and skills up-to-date. Managers should be able to identify skill gaps and provide training in real-time.
- No defined goals and deadlines. Resources may be overstretched or stressed if project goals and deadlines are not set clearly and realistically and shared with team members.
- Increased resource cost leading to lower profitability. Improper resource availability tracking or capacity planning may mean hiring expensive specialists or freelancers for ad-hoc tasks at the last moment. This would adversely impact the project’s overall cost and take it off budget.
- Project conflicts. Too few resources or multiple projects requiring the same resources simultaneously may lead to scheduling conflicts. Managers should prioritize projects and allocate resources accordingly without any schedule clashes.
- Disengaged and unmotivated employees. If resources are burdened with too many tasks due to inefficient scheduling, they will face burnout. On the other hand, those whose skills are not being used optimally will feel demoralized.
- Projects go off-track.Inefficient resource utilization could impact the overall outcome of the project. Quality of output would suffer, the project may get delayed or even canceled, and the organization may have to turn down new projects.
Managers must be able to optimally utilize the resources at hand to complete the projects on time and within budget. They need real-time information and should be able to reallocate resources or adjust schedules effortlessly and smoothly with the help of ERP Software.
Implement eResource Scheduler to Track Resource Availability and Manage Your Resources Efficiently
A streamlined resource management solution like eResource Scheduler with smart tools gives managers a bird’s eye view of the resource availability, allocation and scheduling across all ongoing projects. This allows them to plan the execution of existing and future projects with an edge of accuracy. Resources can be matched to tasks centrally and work schedules balanced. Managers will get an insight into any potential bottlenecks or resource gaps and adjust timelines accordingly. Data is easily added and imported, allowing them to easily integrate changes. They can plan and allocate tasks in advance and keep delays to a minimum. This visibility ensures that managers can plan competently and accurately and the project is a success.