What is a resource planning process?
In short, the resource planning process is a chain of actions that help managers manage their employees’ working time.
In a longer version, the phrase resource planning process, also known simply as resource planning, generally refers to a process of assigning and allocating specialists to project, or specific tasks based on their skills, experience, certifications, and other factors an employer finds valuable in a given case. In general, the process is a responsibility of project managers.
Generally speaking, resource planning process can be applied to:
- employees or team members,
or any other resource you may need to complete a project.
What is the point of having a resource planning process?
The main goal of resource planning processes is to improve the accuracy and reliability of plans and estimations and to spot any inconsistencies in the project before they impact it.
Consequently, they save both project managers' and employees’ precious time and help companies thrive even further with more and more money in the bank account.
Why is resource planning a complex process?
Resource planning process is not the simplest one. In its current version, it consists of 6 consecutive stages:
- Project planning.
- Exchange of information.
- Allocation of resources & budgeting.
- Time tracking.
- Forecasting future planning.
- Updating resource plan.
Just by looking at this list, you can already see that these stages focus on multiple different layers of business operations having a significant impact on resources.
As such, they require a comprehensive approach to every sphere of business, including:
- resource capacity,
- availability of resources,
- skill management,
- time tracking,
- finances in the project,,
- overlapping schedules for various operations,
To add to that, the resource planning processes may get even more complicated in some industries.
The IT industry is a perfect example here. That’s because it needs to face additional challenges in resource planning, such as dynamic wages, different types of contracts and numerous billing methods.
As a result, the resource planning process should concern not only the HR professionals and managers dealing with multiple projects on a daily basis, but also people responsible for sales and finances.
However, you can make that process much simpler using designated tools such as Primetric.
What are the different types of resource planning processes?
In general, there are two types of resource planning processes.
The first one is called the hypothetical resource planning process (also known as demand planning). In this type of planning, we establish what resources are needed for a project, and we allocate them freely without any constraints, such as absences or public holidays.
It provides project managers with a general outline of the specialists needed to complete the project on a given schedule.
However, the aim of such a plan is to determine an estimated demand for the services and it’s not suitable for precise planning. That’s why it has to be confronted with reality in another type of resource management.
It is called an actual resource planning process. It is mostly used to compare the demand established in the hypothetical plan with the real resource availability in the company.
At this point, the outline meets the actual data, resulting in a more realistic schedule for the entire project.
Why is the resource planning process so important? Benefits of resource planning
While the resource planning process may seem burdensome, it certainly has some advantages that outweigh the amount of work it involves.
That’s because such a plan can provide you with:
Accurate estimations and plans. 70% of projects are not completed on schedule in one way or another. A resource planning process can resource allocation, prevent your operations from failing and show you risks you want to avoid - all to ensure the success of your endeavors.
Optimized use of resources. Some specialists are working overtime, while others are benched? No more - with resource planning processes in place, you can optimize the use of resources without over- or underworking by managing resources evenly regardless of the circumstances. You can also check who’s working on which projects, and when.
Accurate financial predictions. The profitability of the project should not be an enigma until its very end. With resource planning processes combined with sufficient management tools, you can precisely estimate the budget of a project and see whether it is really worth the effort.
Better project management. If you work in a service company, you certainly have more than one project on your hands. Fortunately, they do not have to be tangled together - with resource planning processes and the right management tool, you can see exactly how and when they are overlapping, and you can react accordingly.
Improved client satisfaction. With accurate plans, you can inform a client about your exact schedule and, above all, you can stick to it. Is there anything better for a client than a company that can deliver a project exactly as planned?
Seamless communication. Project portfolio management is often difficult - and making the right decisions even more so. Fortunately, with resource planning processes you can quickly spot any problems and discuss them with other managers or interested parties.
Improved morale. No employee likes to be surprised with additional duties almost overnight. Fortunately, with resource planning processes, they can plan their work and become more productive.
Better planning for the future. With the resource planning process, creating drafts and reserving resources is a piece of cake. This is because you can see all the correlations between the teams, see the DMs with the people they’re responsible for, and and reserve their time accordingly.
Improved human resource management. Resource planning process can be useful for more than just creating schedules. With a proper tool, you can use it to see the status of a given developer (hired, onboarding, offboarding, former), see the history of his work, check his workload, and more.
Resource planning diagram
What are the steps of the resource planning process?
Resource planning process consists of a few steps you need to repeat while allocating resources for all future projects. While its name may sound simple, it has lots of complicated steps to it.
Resource planning step by step
If you started your project life cycle management with an in-depth analysis, project planning should be a piece of cake.
Project planning for resource planning process - key objectives
To complete this phase of a resource planning process, you need to focus on the following key objectives:
- determining the main deliverables,
- dividing a project into phases and determining the resources needed,
- listing basic tasks with skills required for their completion,
- doing a hypothetical resource planning phase by determining the demand for particular skills in the project, as well as estimating the time particular specialists need to complete their tasks,
- determining the profit margin, time and budget for the project.
Detailed estimates in Primetric
While it may seem like a burdensome process, it is just the beginning of the actual project resource planning process. Now, you have to put your project plan to test.
If you are interested in a more practical approach to estimations, we invite you to read our Capco case study. Thanks to Primetric, this company has reached over 90% accuracy in their forecasts!
Exchange of information
To plan resources successfully, you need to know what options are available - and to do that, you need to have access to information on resource availability.
Exchange of information in resource planning process - key objectives
The goal of the exchange of information is simple - to establish whether or not the company has the resources to complete the project, and how it can be completed.
The key objectives of this phase include:
- verifying the information on availability and capacity of necessary specialists,
- creating a realistic resource plan based on the information above.
Many guides to the resource planning process claim that the only way to gather the information is to hold numerous meetings (that is why this stage is often referred to as resource management meetings).
While we agree that it is one of the ways to achieve that goal, we do not believe it to be efficient - from our perspective, sitting with tens of other people trying to come to the same conclusions is burdensome to say the least.
Fortunately, the meetings can be shortened to a bare minimum, thanks to tools such as Primetric.
Exchange of information - factors and elements
However, in modern resource planning, the meetings can often be replaced by information gathered automatically by resource planning tools, such as Primetric. In fact, they can give every piece of data a meeting would, including the information on:
- planned absences,
- costs and wages,
- public holidays,
At the same time, such tools do not require time-consuming preparations.
Importantly, they also do not replace the meetings that are still essential for finding the common ground for teams and managers. Instead, they provide the people in charge with the information they need to maximize the output from every meeting while keeping it as short as possible.
Thanks to such solutions, managers can focus on what’s really important - making the right decisions.
Sounds like a dream? For many companies that use resource planning tools, this is a reality. Read the case study from Monterail and HSD to find out how they improved the accuracy of their plans.
Allocation of resources
Allocation of resources is all about matching the available employees with stages of the projects they need to participate in.
Resource allocation in resource planning process - key objectives
At this stage of the process, you should:
- compare the list of available resources with a project schedule,
- assign people to stages of the project,
- estimate the costs of work in the project and compare them to expected profitability,
- double-check the allocations for any absences or vacancies.
These are the key objectives of this part of the process.
Additionally, to ensure the accuracy of the process, you can use our comprehensive guide to capacity planning - we will show you exactly how to do that there!
Resource allocation - useful tools and featues
Additionally, you can use resource planning tools to make the entire process much easier. If you have Primetric at hand, you can use features such as:
- Calendar, to evaluate your current situation and see specialists that can take part in the project,
- Allocation form on employee’s profile,
- Allocation assistant available on the project page.
Every employee tracks their working time on a daily basis - but is there something more to this part of the resource planning process?
Time tracking in resource planning process - key objectives
Apart from entering the worked hours in the system, the key objectives of this stage of resource planning process are:
- monitoring the progress of the project,
- ensuring the project stays within the budget,
- spotting any inconsistencies and delays one needs to react to.
Importantly, time tracking should not be treated as another formality that’s standing on the way to an efficient project.
In fact, it should be an important source of information on delays, overtimes or other issues that require addressing. A properly monitored time tracking may save the project and become a base for the future ones.
Forecasting future planning
The project may end, but the resource planning process never does.
After the closure of a project, you should use the data you gathered throughout its duration to create forecasts and improve the projects you may work on in the future.
Forecasting future planning in resource planning process - key objectives
At this stage, you should focus on:
- predicting the demand for your services and products,
- determining turnover rates and any employment problems you may have,
- creating the list of risks and mistakes you wish to avoid in the future (if there were any).
However, even with all this information at hand, there is no one definite way to predict the future of your company, as no two businesses are the same.
Still, there are some general capacity planning strategies you need to use to prepare for the unexpected: lag, lead, match and adjustment strategy. We discuss them in detail in our article on capacity planning.
Resource planning process - template
Still can’t get the hang of the resource planning process?
We can make it even easier for you.
We have prepared a resource planning process template that will help you go through the entire cycle without any second thought. Feel free to download it!
Why is my resource planning process failing? Common mistakes
Not everything is going like you wanted it to? No problem - just check whether any of these problems apply to your resource planning process and solve it right away.
Lack of meetings with customers
Occasionally you simply cannot figure out where to go next on your own. Contact a customer to solve the most pressing issues. The meetings should be used to establish priorities and resolve conflicts.
Lack of data analysis.
Compiling the data and monitoring the progress should be brought up regularly during a meeting with customers. Only with such meetings can you find the problem before it impacts your project.
Lack of a single source of knowledge
Finances, availability, workload of employees and their skills, and more - these are all features that need to be taken into consideration during resource allocation. Ignoring them or simply lacking access to them may lead to repeating mistakes in allocations in budgeting.
Not considering time offs and public holidays in the occupancy of people.
Such events cut the number of working hours, and they may cause delays should they not be included in the final project plan. In the right tool, such as Primetric, public holidays are always visible in advance.
Different understanding of key indicators
Key indicators, such as utilization or capacity, are interpreted differently by different people in the company. Make sure you discuss them in detail with every party involved, so everyone is on the same page.
Omitting projects from the sales funnel.
If you work in a service company, your sales team definitely has some pending projects that are about to start. Make sure that they’re included in your plans.
Not taking into account internal projects.
They require some effort from your employees, too, and they take some of their time. Ensure that they do not become overtime.
Lack of soft bookings to better forecast occupancy.
Some projects may be tentative at the time you draft your plans for a given period, but it does not mean that you should simply omit them. Create soft bookings, so they would not come as a surprise to your managers.
Why are resource planning processes easier with Primetric?
As you can see from the description above, the resource planning process consists of numerous stages that are hard to include in just a single spreadsheet. That’s why we suggest you leave them behind you altogether!
However, we also have good news for you - in the world of digital solutions you do not have to do all of these things alone (or worse - with all of your colleagues during all day long meetings).
With Primetric’s resource planning software, you can automate a large part of this process, or even combine it with other tools to create a tool that is capable of handling a comprehensive resource planning process in a blink of an eye.
Book a demo with one of our advisors or start a trial with our solution to see what we can do for you.