Resource planning boils down to coming up with a plan in which you identify the necessary resources for a successful project.
To some, resource planning sounds like a simple bullet list, but it is actually more complex than that. Worse, if you do not make a plan, we can assume you have unlimited resources at your disposal.
We mentioned in earlier posts that the essential resources in software project management are actually the human resources, namely the IT developers, analysts, and so on. But that is mostly because they are so peculiar to software project management. Also important, yet secondary to software project management, our time, money, equipment, and so on. Still, these are general and needed for any project. While every software project differs, here is a checklist that you can use as reference to outline your resource plan:
A. Resource Planning Checklist
- TIME. Projection or estimation of overall work hours towards project success.
- MONEY. There is a lot to be said about money and budgeting and there are certainly experts on economics out there. Our quick tip: always round-up when estimating costs.
- TEAM. This includes the positions, responsibilities, number of team members, their attributions, their skills, and so on. Consider that some might work remotely at times, freelancing, and so on.
- EQUIPMENT. Whether you rent or buy them, you have to think of every piece of equipment according to the need, purpose, and place within your project. Also think of materials and stationery that are needed for every phase of the project.
- SPACE. Likewise, whether you rent a space or use your personal estate as the office location, you have to list the functionality and purpose of every corner. Think of meeting rooms, rest areas, kitchen areas, creative zones, and so on.
- MISCELLANEA. This is an umbrella category that includes anything from interior design furniture and perks to snacks, and coffee. It should be absolutely tailored to every project. While this category is not essential to software project management, it does add some bling, thus creating an atmosphere of productivity and innovation. The work environment should not be treated lightly. Do at least take into consideration ergonomics and humane living conditions, if you are not that much into feng shui.
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B. Resource Planning Steps
So, now you have your resource list. Project managers can then juggle with resources depending on current or incoming projects. Nevertheless, bear in mind the fact that resources can also be available also online or remotely. Resources can also be categorized as ‘renewable’, namely the human resources who come to work day-in-day-out, ‘consumable, such as time and money. It’s good to know that you can always increase or decrease their supply, such as contracting more human resources for a specific project, or investing more money, budgeting less, and so one. And no, ‘time’ cannot be supplied if you run out of it due to procrastination or issues along the way.
Now that you have your checklist all done, let’s plan further:
1. List the necessary resources for every task, milestone, or phase of the project as detailed as possible.
You can use a bullet list or different diagramming methods to analyze your checklist:
- Consider Time. How many hours would one specific task take? When is the deadline? Are there any upcoming milestones? What about holidays that might inevitably slow down or stall the project. Also, how much ‘slack’ should be left for every task or dependency?
- What about your human resources: who is in charge of which task? Are they full-time workers, freelancers, contractor, part-timers? Do they have specific needs to help them do their job properly? Is the workload manageable? Good feedback is essential, since you can always hire someone to help lessen the workload, rather than overwork one poor employee, thus leading to job dissatisfaction, overwork, burnout, and loss of productivity.
- Think about the equipment: which is rental, which can be reused for other projects, what’s the most useful piece of equipment for a successful project? This also includes subscription plans, apps, software, and so on. Always take into consideration the ethical use of your equipment. There is a reason why people stopped using typewriters when computers were invented. While having the most cutting-edge technology and gadgets on the market, remember to constantly update what you own. Software project management also needs projectors, printers, scanners, phones, and so on. Consider a list of consumable materials, such as markers, paper, and so on.
2. Schedule the dates along with your resources on a timeline, calendar, or Gantt chart.
For example, you can assign specific team members to certain tasks, rent necessary equipment for a set period of time, an office space for a general meeting or conference, and so on. You can assign the resources to a to-do list or set of tasks. Toggl Plan works as a great timeline and calendar visualization app, so we warmly recommend it.
It is an intuitive and user-friendly app that makes scheduling your resource plan a little less dreadful. Also, you can learn more about using Gantt charts in project management in this article. After you have decided which method to use, create a detailed resource schedule that has enough information (if you don’t understand it, others won’t), ‘slack’ and flexibility, since plans are not foolproof and they can also fail from time to time. Remember to establish the critical path of your project. You can read more about it here.
What you need to remember is that resource planning, though complex and minute, is not as difficult as it may seem. Project managers thrive as long as they make good use of their human resources, which are peculiar to software project management. Also important are time, money, equipment, materials, space, and miscellanea resources. Using our checklist is advisable, even though it is not exhaustive. Still, it’s good to have something as reference. We can sum up the two aforementioned steps to resource planning as making a detailed list of your necessary resources along their subsequent scheduling.