We’ve all been there, whether in our personal or professional lives, we’ve all found ourselves knee-deep in a project only to discover a last-minute complication or mistake that forces us back to square one. Encountering these sorts of obstacles is a project manager’s greatest fear, because 9 times out of 10 it reflects a failure to plan ahead and anticipate the needs of a project.
Whether it’s forgetting ice for a birthday party or discovering a missing skill proficiency in your IT team, a gap in resource planning can easily result in stress, additional expenses, and costly delays that impact other aspects of the project.
That’s why it’s critical to accurately take stock of the resource availability needed for a project, whether it’s personnel or material, and identify the gaps that need to be filled as soon as possible.
Waiting too long can result in missed opportunities, such as if a contractor or a consultant is unavailable when your project needs them most. The further ahead you begin to assess your resource availability, the more flexibility you’ll have when it comes to filling those gaps without worrying about having to push back timelines or incurring additional costs.
An experienced IT staffing augmentation partner like Yoush can help you assign the right resources to the right tasks to ensure optimal resource planning and help prevent any unexpected complications from ruining the party.
What is Resource Planning in Project Management?
Resource planning in project management refers to the process of cataloging and analyzing the types of resources an organization has at their disposal, whether it be equipment, personnel, or skills. Timely resource availability means having the right resource, at the right time, at the right place to fulfill your project’s objectives.
It is important to adequately evaluate resource availability at the outset of a project, otherwise you may incur costly delays and mistakes if it’s discovered that existing IT staff lack critical skills or necessary equipment. Simply underestimating the number of people you would need to match the project’s scale can result in forced allocation of staff from other departments/projects, or in mistakes and quality control issues if an understaffed team is expected to “do more with less.”
When evaluating resource availability, there are three main factors you must consider:
Demand/Utilization: The first step is to determine the number of resources the project requires, accurately estimating this resource demand is very important to ensure you don’t encounter any shortfalls in the course of the project.
Capacity Planning: Once you’ve determined the resource demand, you need to catalogue the resources your organization currently has at its disposal for the project to help identify the main points of need.Skill Gap: The gap between your organization’s resource capacity and the project’s resource demand forms the skill gap: helping you identify what resources you need to bring aboard for the project and what specific skill sets you need to augment your team with.
Evaluating Resource Utilization
Once you have resources in place, you need to evaluate how efficiently the project is using them. If resources are over-utilized and having to pick up slack, timelines may slip or be maintained at the cost of the overall quality of the project as its deliverables suffer.
By contrast, if resources are under-utilized, the overall profitability of the project will be reduced and may affect future budgets. It’s important to ride this fine line, both to ensure maximum profitability but also retain valuable resources over the lifespan of the project.
There are many different formulas you can use to calculate resource utilization, but a good first step is to estimate billable hours for each human resource needed for the project divided by their total available hours. This forms their individual Utilization Rate. It’s usually ideal to aim for a Utilization Rate of 0.8 or 80% to ensure each resource is maximally utilized without overburdening them.
Once you have determined each resource’s Utilization Rate, you can calculate the Capacity Utilization Rate by adding each individual Utilization Rate together and dividing it by the total number of human resources to get a sense of the utilization rate of the project as a whole.Then, you can add together the estimated costs, overhead, and profit margin of the project and divide it by the Capacity Utilization Rate to calculate the Optimal Utilization Rate. This is an important metric for estimating the overall profitability and efficiency of the project.
Benefits of IT Resource Planning
While IT resource planning does require more work at the outset of a project, putting the effort in can yield considerable advantages down the line.
When you accurately assess the resources needed for a project, you can make smarter decisions when it comes to filling the skill gap in your team. By reducing the chance of surprises down the line, you can focus on enhancing efficiency and the quality of deliverables. In the long-run, you also reduce the risk of losing talented resources due to burnout, thereby improving staff retention.
Additionally, by identifying possible bottlenecks and project scope creep ahead of time, you can avoid unexpected costs such as having to bring on additional contractors or consultants, which takes time and effort away from more important aspects of the project.
If an unexpected situation does arise, such as a key resource pursuing a different opportunity or falling sick at a critical juncture, if you already have an idea of your resource capacity and demand, it’s easier to reallocate resources or pursue last minute IT staff augmentation.
Seeking an IT Resource Planning Partner
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to start when it comes to IT resource planning for your next project, remember: you don’t have to go it alone.
Bringing in external experts like our staff at Yoush for a consultation or second opinion can give you a critical advantage when it comes to not only resource planning and allocation, but also in finding the right candidates to fill those holes in your skill gap.
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