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How to Plan Your Project's Resource Capacity

written by: twhatley • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 5/15/2013

Do you know how to delegate resources to effectively run and complete a project? In this article, you'll learn about effective resource management and some ways that a project manager can track use of his resources.

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    Three Types of Resources

    There are three different types of resources that you need to manage: People, equipment and material. Some people get confused about how to effectively manage equipment or material, and how that falls into project management. Not only will you need the right people on the right jobs, but you need to make sure that they have the required equipment and material to get the job done. Below are just a few tips about managing the three different types of resources.

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    Several things go into managing people effectively. As a project manager, you need to make sure that you have the people with the skill set required for the task. Not only will the right people need to be in the right place at the right time, but you must also equip them with the tools and knowledge they need. It is your job to make sure that they are fully aware of what is expected from them, and how long they have to do it.

    You must also consider the cost of resources. Will utilizing one paralegal cause you to incur excessive overtime pay versus choosing someone else? Those are the kinds of hidden costs that can blow up a project budget.

    Managing people in projects is a style of matrix management. You, the project manager, don’t necessarily manage each person directly. It is your job to manage the group leader, or senior member, over each group of employees. And from there, the hierarchy begins and orders are passed down.

    Employees are not the only people resources that need management. Vendor staff and subcontractors are also in this group of project management. If you use outside vendors for equipment and/or materials, they will need to know what you need and the date it is due. This is the same as subcontractors. You have a project to get completed; this means that you need to move all the pieces around in order to get them in the right spot to get the job done.

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    People need equipment to complete a task. As project manager, you will have to make decisions on what equipment is needed, who will use it, and for what length of time. You need to make sure that the equipment is available and is in working order. Rental fees for equipment can actually be calculated into the project. In between projects, you will need to keep track of product warranties and any type of routine maintenance that needs to be done. Effectively managing equipment is like managing people; you make sure that they are able to do the job when you need them to.

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    Almost every project requires materials. No matter what industry you are in, for every project that needs to be completed, you will require a certain amount of materials; even something as small as pen and paper. It is up to you to make sure all the materials that are needed for the task have arrived on time and are accessible. This goes back to managing people and vendors. This is where people management and material management merge. By properly managing the vendor that supplies the materials, you are also managing the materials aspect of the project. It goes to show how things in business come back in a complete circle; if you take care of business at the beginning, you can ensure success at the end.

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    Resource Contingency Planning

    For some reason, when project managers are making a contingency plan for the project, they do not make one for resources. It is so rare for a resource contingency plan to be in place, I feel that I need to mention this here. When you are managing a project, it is very important to understand that backup planning is needed. It puzzles me that PMs would make contingency for money or time, but not for people and equipment. The resources are expected to do what is needed of them when it is needed, even if time and budget has requires them to work overtime at the end to get the project completed.

    At some point, there is always a gap during which resources aren’t being used on other projects. Don’t be afraid to be ready to assign other resources to a project in a time of need. Project managers aren’t afraid to ask for more money or more time, but they are timid about asking for more people. Think of it this way; if you overwork your resources, what will you have for the next project when they have quit on you.

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