At the heart of every successful business lies great products and processes, everything else is secondary. It takes a lot of effort and a proper framework to develop your product/service from a mere idea. Project management is “The Framework” that allows you to do so with your existing resources, ensuring each phase is carried out as it was planned. Even if something forces you to make alterations, irrespective of its size and complexities, the framework must be flexible enough to allow room for it.
Project management, in its essence, allows you to manage various aspects of your project lifecycle, the likes of which include initial planning, product development, testing, marketing and advertising, customer service, invoicing, payroll and so on. If you use the right tool in the right way, project management is an excellent option to make your organizational operations more efficient and effective.
Planning and scheduling of your resource plays a key role in project management. It helps you understand the scope of the project ahead of time and manage/assign your resource accordingly. Besides, it provides an overview of who’s responsible for delivering what and by when. In other words, you get a clear picture of what’s happening through the lifecycle of a project and manage each task closely through collaboration and clear communication.
But before digging deep into it, you need to understand what you mean by resources and how they affect your project delivery.
What are Project Resources?
Resources can be anything from people to purchases and suppliers, depending on the specific project you are dealing with. The following are the common types of resources we require in delivering projects:
- People: The most essential part of your project resource is your team members and other individuals contributing towards the completion of the project. It involves both your onsite members and remote workers responsible for carrying out the assigned tasks to deliver the project successfully.
- Third Parties: Business often outsource parts of a project/task to external organizations and individuals (such as consultants and freelancers) to help the project deliver on time. They are also a part of human resource. Any third-party consultants, contractors, and outsourcing partners etc. fall under this category.
- Purchases: If you need to make any physical or intangible purchases (both goods and services) in order to deliver the project, it is a part of your project resources. This involves software, hardware, equipment, licenses and more.
- Property and Other Services: If you need a physical space (be it a purchase or a rental property) required for delivering the project, it again falls under your project resources. Besides, other areas of your project delivery that needs a budget will be considered as your project resources.
This means, anything that requires a budget to deliver the project successfully is a resource. As a business owner you need to understand a few things about resources. These include:
- Who is Responsible: You need to assign the project to a specific person, team or department. This individual or group is accountable to each task listed under the project and is responsible for its successful completion.
- What are the Responsibilities: You need to assign the exact tasks to that person, team or department
- When is the Due Date: Each project/task should come with a due date or deadline, within which a project must be started, progressed and finished with due diligent.
Areas of Resource Management
Resource management involves various aspects, including:
- Resource scheduling
- Assignment and delegation of responsibilities
- Resource management
- Tasks/activities tracking
Let’s discuss the first two aspects of resource management upon which all other phases depend.
Planning begins with the initiation of a project when you define its scope and purpose. You must already have your project team in place by this point along with an outline business case and a detailed understanding of your client/stakeholders’ expectations. Planning your resources also involves analyzing the risk log.
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At this point, you need to broadly plan the project and determine the cost associated with it while defining the “who, what, why, when and how” of the particular project. As development begins, you walk into a more thorough stage of planning where you outline clear specifications such as what you need to do, who will be responsible and by when. This helps you to sensibly manage your resources, time and budget and prepare a ‘schedule’ based on that.
Next comes scheduling your resources. This again is all about understanding what you need to do and when you need to do them. In short, scheduling deals with the “who, what and when” of your project but in a more detailed manner. These tasks will be sync with the overall plan of your project. They will be assigned to individuals/teams with a due date.
Resource scheduling helps you in various ways, including:
- It provides a basis for monitoring and regulating project activities
- Based on your schedule you can determine how to allocate tasks and resources to best achieve your project goal
- To assess time delays and identify their impact on the project.
- Understand and analyze if you have excess resources to assign other projects/tasks
- Track the status and progress of the project.
To schedule your resources you would need various inputs such as description of project scope, personal and project calendars, project risks and resource requirements based on the lists of activities assigned.
How Planning and Resource Scheduling Affect Project Management
As mentioned, planning and scheduling of your resource deals with the “who, what, why, when and how” of your project, upon which your project management process depends. For example, the assignment and delegation of responsibilities is defined by the “who and what” part of the project.
Likewise, planning and scheduling affects your resource management as a whole by tracking tasks and activities, ensuring that your teams communicate and collaborate with each other to be on the same page, in order to complete the required activities successfully and within the given time frame.
This not only allows you to meet the deadline but also enhances the quality of the end result by eliminating/reducing human errors. Managing the resources properly is therefore important for delivering a project within the right timescale, budget and quality.
Project over-run is a major issue faced by many businesses. This mainly occurs because of those last-minute error-correction and further enhancements that often takes longer than initially anticipated. Projects that were on schedule all of a sudden become over-run, costing you a lot of money not to mention your client’s grumpy face every time you try to explain them the situation.
Planning and scheduling your resources in a collaborative environment is a great way to avoid this issue. Since you can schedule projects in distinct stages, you can easily identify quality issues early on and your client can also get updates about the progress in real-time. This therefore allows you to rectify any issue before it becomes a seriously threat to your project schedule.
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