What Is A Resource In Project Management?

Let’s say you have to complete an assignment for the office. What are the things you’ll need?

A laptop, a Wi-Fi connection, laptop charger, your notes, project knowledge, goals, and requirements, your spectacles (if you wear any), a comfy neck pillow, and perhaps a cup of coffee. In the project management world, we call them ‘resources’—or absolute essentials that are required to get the work done. As simplistic as this concept seems, it is central to every project’s success. In fact, according to research, here’s how organizations with poor capacity planning fare:

  • 64% lack visibility into capacity
  • 63% can’t prioritize demand well
  • 58% need better insight into demand

Clearly, the importance of analyzing the right Project Management Resources and understanding their role in the project cannot be emphasized enough. As you might have guessed, in this blog, we’ll deep-dive to understand the role ‘resources’ play in a project. Let’s jump right in.

What Is a Project Resource?

Think of a ‘resource’ as an integral component in a project whose primary goal is to complete a specific task or project. Contrary to popular opinion, a resource is not limited to being a person. It can be a team/tool, material goods, or even capital and time. After all, projects typically require varying types of resources to be completed. What’s important to note is that resources should be assigned before the project begins. When determining the type of resources to use for a project, make sure to account for the following factors:

  • Skills and expertise
  • Cost
  • Availability 

Moving on, let’s understand the different types of resources that can be used for a project.

What Are the Types of Resources in a Project?

Typically, resources can be categorized into four main types depending on the type, complexity, and scale of the project:

1. Capital or cost resources: This refers to the capital (think: finance funds, project budgets, project grants, etc.) needed for successful project completion. It includes costs for the human resources, purchase of material resources or rentals, and, finally, miscellaneous costs that may be incurred throughout the project lifecycle. Project managers will need to spend time to understand the expectations of their project sponsors and present a realistic idea about the project cost.

2. Human resources: Also known as work resources, this is one of the most complex requirements of a project as their primary job is to ensure that the project runs smoothly. It includes the office staff, the project manager, legal entities, subject matter experts, third-party personnel, etc. It is important to understand the skills and availability of your human assets before assigning them to a project.

3. Material goods: It refers to the tangible assets/goods such as different materials, supplies, etc., that are required for the project. When creating a project cost, you’ll want to include the cost, time, and quality of the material goods. Here’s a quick breakup for your reference:

  • Software licenses and registration
  • Technical infrastructure such as IT equipment
  • Raw materials, tools, and machinery
  • Property/premises

Note: The material goods are physical goods that can be anything and everything required to complete the project. So making an exhaustive list right at the beginning can ensure accurate project cost estimation.

4. Time: This signifies the time frame required to complete the tasks within the project. Examples of time resources include a project plan, project schedule, project charter, etc.

Key takeaway: Effective resource planning can be implemented if all the four components mentioned above are considered before the project kickstarts. The more in-depth the list, the better the chances of optimized and on-time project completion. In a similar vein, Project Management Tips summarizes the importance of ‘thinking through’ your project resources before the heavy-lifting begins:

“The more effort you put into thinking through the types of project resources you need and requesting them far enough in advance to ensure that they are ready for you when you need them, the easier it will be for you to complete your project on time, on budget, and to the required specifications.”

Why Do Project Resources Matter?

Improper resource planning can have disastrous results for your project, such as:

  • Running out of resources halfway through the project
  • Overcommitment of resources: According to data, 77% of product development organizations with poor capacity planning skills end up overcommitting their resources.
  • Delayed or missed deadlines
  • Unsatisfactory results
  • Budget overshoots

On a more granular level, it allows project managers to:

  • Be better prepared for a project and progress with agility
  • Ensure that no team member is overworked or overbooked
  • Have a crystal-clear understanding of their asset’s workloads

Key takeaway: In other words, the chances of project failure can shoot up if your resource planning is not up to the mark. Plus, understanding the scope of resource requirements also helps project managers to prioritize tasks within the project and define the project constraints.

Top-3 Best Practices For Stellar Resource Planning

  1. Assign resources in a healthy balance and an optimal capacity.

As tempting as using fewer and fewer resources sounds (for obvious reasons such as cost-saving), cutting corners will only lead to chaos and delayed deadlines later.

2. Figure out the most important resources and the critical path for your project.

Let’s face it. Every project has some resources that are more important than others. So as a project manager, you should single out the core resources needed for the project and create a schedule accordingly. You can start by creating a critical path or a sequence of the most important tasks to understand resource priority.

3. Automate tasks wherever possible.

There are many intelligent automation tools available that can literally ‘take over’ repetitive tasks so that you can save on labor costs and engage in optimal resource allocation of your valuable assets, particularly human assets.

How Can Resource Management Tools Help?

Luckily, there are plenty of impactful resource management tools available today that allow you to:

  • Get an in-depth understanding of the type of resources that are available for a project in addition to understanding their skills, expertise, and costs.
  • Identify and assign the right resources based on your project priorities and project map.
  • Keep an eye out for the resources and ensure equal work distribution.
  • Engage in accurate resource availability planning so that the project requirements are met within the budget and time frame.
  • Search for resources in real-time and make iterations based on resource attributes, project changes, and project priorities.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, all resources of a project are central to ensuring that the project kicks off on the right foot, moves in the right direction, and is completed without any hiccups. Thinking strategically right from the very beginning about the kind of resources you’ll need, understanding their skill set as well as availability and costs, and preparing a resource schedule will ensure that you complete your project on time, within the stipulated budget, and most importantly, to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders and partners involved.