Resource Utilization Plan for Project Management: How to Create It?

Having an employee bench in the IT company is a highly undesirable situation, as it only generates costs for the company. However, a resource utilization plan can help any project manager minimize the number of idle employees - and we know exactly how to do that. 

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Creating a perfect resource utilization plan: a complete guide

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What is resource utilization plan? Definition

In the IT industry, a resource utilization plan is a comprehensive document that outlines how people will be allocated and utilized efficiently and effectively to accomplish the goals and objectives of projects. 

Why is calculate resource utilization so important?

A typical resource utilization plan provides a roadmap for managing and optimizing resources to ensure that they are utilized in the most optimal manner to achieve the desired outcomes, while considering constraints such as time (also known as resource capacity), budget, and availability.

In other words, it allows project managers and their team members to achieve optimal resource utilization - and it is an essential element of efficient project management.

Resource utilization plan

How to calculate resource utilization?

Calculating the resource utilization rate is simple - you can learn to measure utilization with our article on effective resource utilization. You can also find a typical resource utilization formula there.

However, there are also different utilization rates, including billable and non-billable utilization. We also discussed them on our blog and added dozens of valuable tips for resource managers wishing to improve resource planning and resource performance in their businesses!

What is the purpose of creating a resource utilization plan? 

A well-designed resource utilization plan serves as a guide for project managers. It helps them: 

  • effectively manage and monitor resources, 
  • ensure their optimal usage, 
  • prevent resource-related bottlenecks or delays. 

It is also helpful in maintaining a balanced approach to resource allocation, maximizing productivity, and minimizing employee bench, ultimately leading to successful project completion within the defined constraints, such as time or budget. 

What should a resource utilization plan include? 

A resource utilization plan typically includes: 

  • details on the types of team members needed - now and in the upcoming periods,  
  • resource allocation across different tasks or activities,
  • the timeline for resource utilization
  • the project manager responsible for managing and monitoring resource usage.

It may also include: 

  • strategies for managing schedule conflicts
  • addressing resource shortages or overloads, 
  • optimizing resource utilization throughout the project. 

Creating a resource utilization plan step by step 

Creating a resource utilization plan involves several key steps to effectively allocate and manage resources for a project or task. Here’s how you can do that in a few simple steps. 

Step 1: Define the Project Scope and Objectives

Start with the most obvious part of resource management and specify what you want to do, and what people you will need to complete the task. 

At this stage, focus on project planning and define the project scope and objectives. Creating a project plan with milestones is would also be helpful, as it will help you understand:

  • goals and main deliverables, 
  • project timeline
  • any other details that you may need to consider before the project starts. 

Step 2: Identify Required Resources

With a list of planned operations ready, it should be easy for you to match people to the planned stages. 

Simply make a list of all the specialists required for your project or task. If necessary, you can also add the information on additional resources you might need during the project, such as subscriptions, software or devices. 

Step 3: Estimate Resource Requirements

Having finished specifying the type of specialists you will need for a project, try to estimate the quantity and duration of each allocation basede on the project scope and objectives. At this point, you do not need to know exactly how many full-time positions the project will require; instead, try to determine how much time each stage of the project will take - just like shown below. 

Project estimates are essential for managing resource utilization

An example of project estimates in Primetric

Step 4: Assess available resources

Before moving on to resource allocation, determine each team member's resource availability and ensure there are no constraints that may impact it later on during the project. Such obstacles may include: 

  • other billable tasks and allocations,
  • long vacations, 
  • planned resignations or layoffs, 
  • parental leaves, 
  • any other planned absences, 
  • vacancies. 

If possible, project managers should use dedicated resource management software - such as Primetric - to see the resource utilization rate for all team members and determine whether or not their resource capacity allows them to be assigned to the project.

Resource utilization formula is already applied in Primetric's people panel
People panel in Primetric shows the exact availability of each employee using a utilization bar (on the left). 

Step 5: Resource management

Based on the estimated resource requirements and availability, allocate the resources to specific tasks or activities in your project schedule. Once again, ensure that there are no schedule conflicts, absences or other allocations that might interfere with your plans. If possible, use a program that can inform you about any overlapping assignments! 

Resource utilization formula in Primetric is also used to indicate overbooking.

Overbooking notification in Primetric prevents managers from making a mistake in allocations 

Step 6: Measuring resource utilization

Regularly measure resource utilization throughout the project, task, or even in the company as a whole to ensure that all team members use their billable utilization to the fullest. To do so, they should track resource utilization, enabling their managers to compare the actual usage of resources against the planned allocation, identifying any overall resource utilization constraints or issues, and making adjustments as needed.

The best way to do that is to: 

  • track resource utilization using the time tracking data to see the project progress and react to any negative changes, 
  • use automated reports to provide you with a bird’s eye view of effective resource utilization and its changes over time. 

Step 7: Optimize Resource Utilization

Of course, resource utilization plan does not end when the last person tracks their hours. Continuously optimize the utilization of resources to ensure efficient and effective allocation. This may involve reallocating people based on changing project needs, resolving resource conflicts, or identifying and addressing any bottlenecks.

What should a resource utilization plan look like? 

On a very general level, resource utilization plan should show you exactly which people are available, and which are overworked or simply busy with various billable tasks. It should also provide people involved in project management with an overview of overall resource utilization and utilization rates for all the resources. Here's what it looks like in a professional resource management tool.

For example, in this simplified availability heat map, you can see both tracked hours (top bar in each employee’s section; grey bars show that no hours have been tracked) and planned hours (bottom bar in each employee’s section; green indicates maximum utilization, while purple - overtimes). Together they show the managers an exact utilization rate for each employee, allowing the people in charge to create a resource utilization plan with no errors and improve strategic resource utilization in the company as a whole.

Project managers can use the resource utilization rates in Primetric to allocate team members even better.
Utilization and availability heatmap in Primetric 

On a more detailed level, resource utilization plan should include even more information. For example, in Primetric it covers: 

  • the type of the allocation (active, draft, reserved), as well as complete resource scheduling and project portfolio management for current and future projects,
  • person’s position and wage, 
  • its length, 
  • project stage (if applicable),  
  • work costs (costs of tracked hours/costs of planned hours), 
  • percentage of available utilization. 
Project managers can monitor resource capacity in project calendar in Primetric
Project calendar in Primetric

Do you want to learn more about managing utilization? 

Great - we have some resources that you might find useful. 

Visit our blog to read more about: 

Or, if you want to jump straight to action and improve your own processes, start a trial with Primetric or book a demo with our advisors - they will show you the best way to perfect your utilization! 

Arkadiusz is Head of Growth and Co-founder at Primetric. Prior to that, Arkadiusz was at the helm of his own software development company where he oversaw operations. A great enthusiast of process improvements, his personal mission is to make software companies more profitable and efficient on their path to growth.

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