What is resource management?

Resource management refers to the planning, scheduling, and future allocation of resources, with the goal of maximizing efficiency and effectiveness.

Essentially, resource management is an approach designed to ensure that businesses assets are applied when and where they will have the most positive impact. These resources may be tangible—such as equipment and capital—or intangible—such as employee time and skills.
Graphic showing the elements of resource management

No matter the industry, no matter the business, completing projects and delivering products and services require resources. And resources are finite. Resource management exists to ensure that these finite resources are being used efficiently. With proper resource management, organizations can do more with less. It helps decision makers better understand what resources are available, when, and for how long, so that they can apply them correctly.

Effective resource management brings with it several key benefits. These include the following:

Optimal resource utilization

The most obvious advantage of resource management is the ability to get the most out of the resources that are available. Resource utilization takes into account human and non-human resources, comparing availability against use to determine where resources are being underutilized, where they are being over utilized, and where they could be better balanced for improved effectiveness.

In terms of employee resources, resource utilizations help ensure that teams and individuals are being consistently challenged and that they have enough tasks to keep them busy, without overloading them and risking burnout.

Increased communication

Resource management involves creating a transparent, documented plan describing resources and assignments. With a clear view of tasks and responsibilities updated in real time, every team member can easily see who is working on what, and which resources are allocated, and which are available. This improves communication, eliminates misunderstandings associated with overbooking and repeated task status changes, and increases the accuracy of status updates.

Improved communication through increased transparency keeps everyone up to date and informed. This improves employee engagement and stakeholder confidence.

Improved overview

More often than not, organizations have to manage multiple projects across a range of teams and departments, trying to account for potentially hundreds of different tasks and their associated resources. Increasing focus on one project reduces focus on others, potentially leading to mismanagement. Resource management allows organizations to broaden their gaze, with a complete overview of everything and everyone.

An accurate overview allows decision makers to see exactly where each project is, what deadlines are approaching, and what needs to be done to ensure project success. It makes up-to-the-minute tracking a reality and gives management more control over both day-to-day and long-term actions. It also provides a clearer picture of total resource usage, informing resource predictions for later initiatives.

Enhanced predictions and problem identification

Accurate prediction and on-the-nose estimates can mean the difference between success and failure. Resource management improves an organization’s ability to reliably predict future needs, and to resolve issues before they can turn into real problems. With a clear picture of where resources are and what they are doing, project managers enjoy insights into timelines as they are. This enables them to apply that knowledge to future projects, for more accurate forecasting related to scheduling and resource usage.

Along the same lines, clearer timelines mean that organizations can better prepare for project bottlenecks, taking steps early on to make up for scheduled downtime, holidays, and other disruptive events.

Maximized profitability

Improved estimates and forecasting naturally lead to improved project success. Resource management helps accurately attribute actual costs to projects, simplifying resource allocation and tracking. Taken together, these and the other previously addressed advantages naturally result in increased profit margins.

In other words, improved resource management leads to improved business success.

Effective resource management depends on an organization’s ability to create a resource management plan –typically managed or owned by a resource manager. The resource management plan is primarily used to manage human resources—the project team made up of individual employees with assigned roles and responsibilities. But resource management plans should also address other essential resources, including equipment, spaces, finances, etc. In fact, the first step of creating a resource management plan is identifying and cataloging all the resources necessary to complete the project.

Essential factors in creating a resource management plan include the following:

Resources

Resources are the primary concern when creating a resource management plan. As such, most of the time in the early phases of resource planning should be spent creating a detailed list of all the necessary people, skills, tools, and other resources vital to the success of the project. Aim to be thorough; the more accurate this list, the better it will serve the resource management plan.

Timeframes

Timeframes for each resource help inform schedules. Estimate, as accurately as possible, how much time will be needed for each resource, and use that information when setting deadlines and timelines.

Assumptions and constraints

Effective resource management planning doesn’t only include concrete constraints related to scope, schedules, and cost; it should also incorporate intelligent, informed assumptions. These assumptions can be about what resources will be available and when but should be clearly identified as assumptions within the plan. This will help distinguish them from the more reliable constraints which should serve as part of the plan’s foundation.

Roles and responsibilities

Finally, an effective resource management plan will clearly assign roles and responsibilities for all human resources included in the strategy. Unambiguous assignments help ensure that everyone involved knows who is responsible for what, and when they can expect tasks to be completed.

Creating a resource management plan is a straightforward process. Generally, it consists of six steps, and much like the essential factors listed above, it starts with identifying essential resources.

1. Decide which resources are needed

The first phase of resource management involves identifying and allocating resources, considering fees and other costs, and getting approval from any relevant clients or decision makers. Using similar past projects as guides, project managers can improve the accuracy of their resource estimates.

Graphic depicting resource management lifecycle

2. Match resources to project needs

In the second phase of resource planning the project manager begins to review the necessary project tasks and pair them with the resources identified in the previous phase. In terms of human resources, make sure that tasks are being assigned based not only on availability, but also upon skill sets and capacity.

3. Budget time for each activity

With resources assigned, the next step is to determine how much time each task will require and create schedules accordingly. While budgeting time, be careful not to over or under schedule; too little work creates disengaged employees, while too much can lead to burnout.

4. Schedule resources

Considering other commitments and demands on resources along with the goals of the current project, the project manager next works to officially schedule resources for specific tasks. Scheduling resources helps create accurate estimates of completion dates.

5. Monitor the project

They say that no plan survives contact with reality. With this in mind, monitoring projects is an essential aspect of resource management planning. Regularly check in with the resource management tool and compare the actual performance with established resource-allocation estimates. If there are bottlenecks, misalignment of resources, areas where the project has stalled, or other issues, then constant monitoring will allow the project manager to identify and resolve these issues before they can derail the project.

6. Analyze and refine the plan

Once the project has been completed, the final step in creating a resource management plan is the retrospective. Review the estimates established during the early planning stages and compare them to the actual resources that were used. Identify where estimates could be improved, and where resources may have performed differently than expected. It is here that project managers can refine their approach for future projects, so reviewing and considering all factors is important.

Effective project management depends on an organization’s ability to properly allocate, assign, and guide resources. However, the more complex the projects, the more difficult and demanding resource management can become. The ServiceNow Resource Management application organizes and simplifies this aspect of project management. The end result? Accurate resource predictions, real-time transparency, and improved allocation across all resources and projects.

ServiceNow Resource Management includes the following features:

  • Resource allocation workbench
    The workbench provides visual insights detailing resource requests and allocations.
  • Resource plan
    Using the resource plan feature, project managers can use relevant data to create detailed resource management plans for any project.
  • Operational resource plans
    Resource managers have a single UI to manage all resource plans whether task-based or operational.
  • Resource reports
    Reliable, data-focused reports share real-time updates related to resource utilization.
  • Time sheet portal
    With the time sheet portal feature, human resources can record the time on tasks daily even on mobile devices, submitting these time sheets with the click of a button.

These and other features allow project managers to enjoy a range of benefits, including:

Viewing resource availability

ServiceNow resource management provides real-time information across every available resource.

Improving resource management

By working within a single, centralized application delivering consistent resource management to all relevant people, projects, and systems, organizations enjoy more accurate results and clearer insights.

Matching resources with requirements

ServiceNow Resource Management matches resources with business needs, using calendars, schedules, flexible allocation, and other tools and integrations.

Check out ServiceNow Resource Management and see how the right resources at the right time can revolutionize your business.

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