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Employee planning in projects - how can it best succeed?

Linda Ottmann
06.11.2020 | 4 min reading time

A project differs in many ways from the tasks of day-to-day business. In terms of time, but also in terms of content: A project always has a start time and a (foreseeable) end. During the given time, goals are pursued, which in this form are new and complex. However, the time frame and the content are not the only guidelines of a project. Another challenge that project managers have to face are resources that are not infinitely available to the project. These can be both tangible and intangible. For example, material resources include machines and financial resources, while immaterial resources include human labour. In order to successfully complete the project, it is essential to plan the resources in advance and allocate them in such a way that they are available when needed.

Particularly in the area of intangible resources, care must be taken to ensure that staff are in the right place at the right time, in the right number and with the right qualifications. Especially in the case of large and/or distributed projects, this means a planning effort for project management that should not be underestimated. Many companies have already taken up this challenge and there are various software solutions that offer support in resource management.

But why is resource management so relevant to project management anyway? Should every project, regardless of its size, ideally use a resource management tool for project staff? These questions should be answered here to support you in your everyday project work and to show you the relevance of resource management.

 

Why resource management
is important

In any project, project managers and other project stakeholders must work with limited resources and use them properly to achieve the project goal. If resources are used in the wrong quantity or at the wrong time, distribution problems can arise during the course of the project. If available material is processed at the beginning of the project, although it is also needed at a later stage, then this required material must be procured again - if possible - which involves additional financial and time expenditure. Since time is also a resource, this resource, which is also limited, is used for the process of material procurement, which leads to further resource bottlenecks. This example shows that an incorrectly used resource - the material - alone causes further problems. However, in projects there is not only one resource that has to be planned and managed, but many different ones. The extent of misplanning can therefore be enormous. For this reason, resource management should not be underestimated and it must be taken into account before it is too late. Because as soon as the first bottlenecks occur, sophisticated planning is no longer feasible and active countermeasures must be taken.

The resource management of personnel is often underestimated in this context. Because especially in this discipline, planning can never be completely accurate. Project employees can fall ill, temporarily not work on a project due to pregnancy or an important appointment, or leave the company and thus the project team unplanned. These uncertainties have to be considered and taken into account when planning the resources of project staff. In this way, the smooth running of the project can be ensured even in the worst case.

For you as project manager or team member this means in summary:

  • Do not neglect resource management. It pays off, even if you don't see it at first glance.
  • Plan your resources early and conscientiously. Remember that it is easier to plan than to do damage control.
  • Set great store by the planning of human resources. Due to the unpredictability of personnel deployment, you should always have a plan B prepared

 

Which projects require a resource management tool

Suppliers who want to support you in your daily project business with resource management are now a dime a dozen. But from when does it make sense to use such a tool? And which tool can resource management?

In order to plan the use of the available resources in a meaningful way, it is essential to record the planning in writing. This must be made available to the project staff. At this point, it is advisable to use software for this purpose. But is it at all possible with personnel resource management to make precise statements about who is needed when and where at the beginning of the project? It should of course be possible to provide rough information, but certain tools have problems processing inaccurate information. This could falsify the result of the planning. For this reason it is important to choose a tool that can handle inaccurate information and process it for what it is: estimates.

But is such a comprehensive tool also necessary for smaller projects? Small projects are usually not organized autonomously, but affect the line organization to a certain extent. If this is the case, the resource management tool should not be compromised. As soon as employees are also working for the line, they are not always available for the project. A good resource management tool must take these cases into account so that the planning can be made realistic.

The same applies to multi-projects or programs. Here too, the project staff are not only working exclusively for one project, but are deployed at more construction sites. The planning of multi-projects and programs therefore absolutely requires the use of complex software in order to be able to plan the deployment of staff as precisely as possible.

So you need a tool for your project if:

  • many employees are involved in the project
  • employees are still working in the line besides the project
  • Employees do not work on one project, but on several

 

Conclusion

By planning human resources before the project starts, later bottlenecks and thus costs can be minimized. Even if no concrete statements can be made about the availability of staff at the start of the project, you should definitely not do without planning. As a project manager you can, thanks to careful planning, become aware of possible so-called bottlenecks at an early stage and your project staff will know when they are deployed where and what this means for them. Both sides benefit from this. How extensive the employee resource management has to be ultimately depends on many factors such as the project itself or the number of employees. A good average should be found - as everywhere else - because time is still a valuable resource in project management. It should not be wasted.

>> Become an expert in resource management with the IAPM White Paper

Linda Ottmann
Written by

Linda Ottmann

As Chief Communications Officer, Linda represents IAPM and is responsible for IAPM public relations. She ensures that the reputation of the IAPM is built and maintained. As CCO, she is the contact person for IAPM Network Officials, IAPM Partners, Certificates and all interested parties.