How to use project management for HR (with examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project management skills can be useful across many professional roles and industries, including human resources (HR). These skills include time management, organisation and planning. By understanding how to use project management techniques in HR, you can strive to be more efficient in your job duties and optimise your working processes. In this article, we explore the principles behind project management and the benefits of incorporating these skills into your HR projects.

Related: Project manager requirements (with duties and skills)

What is project management for HR?

Project management for HR involves using project management techniques to improve the efficiency of the workflow of tasks in human resources. HR projects may look different from typical self-contained projects in the workplace, but HR processes can still benefit from project management. These processes may include:

  • hiring new talent

  • operations management

  • team building and teamwork activities

  • training programmes

  • onboarding and induction

Related: What is technical project management?

What are project management skills?

Project management skills are competencies you can use to monitor and track a project and its workflow, manage deadlines and record and measure the project's success. You can use project management techniques to practice these skills and maintain records containing all the relevant and necessary information on duties and tasks. They can include:

  • tracking responsibilities for each project member

  • recording progress data on a central spreadsheet

  • writing a project overview or instructions

  • having milestones and end goals

  • time management and calendar tracking

Whether large or small, HR teams typically have similar goals as they comprise people-oriented roles. HR roles involve cooperating with many people with different experiences and points of view. For this reason, having formal techniques in place for managing HR processes and projects can improve efficiency and reduce errors in communication. It can also result in a positive transition when welcoming new colleagues into the team since they have access to documented manuals if they're uncertain of anything.

Why use project management for human resources

Project management techniques and tools can help standardise human resources processes. By creating a central, standard process for common HR duties, professionals can reduce errors, save time and easily integrate additional work. These are some of the benefits of using project management tools in human resources:

  • Standard hiring process: Set out clear hiring values, speed up onboarding processes and improve the experience of interview candidates.

  • Cost-saving: Identify points of inefficiency to improve workflows.

  • Standard performance review: Assess individual performance in the context of the entire organisation.

  • Data protection: Remain vigilant of team members with access to specific data and note this in the project plan.

  • Accountability: Assign responsibilities to each person and track individual and team progress.

With effective project management in place, HR professionals can help make the workplace more cohesive, efficient and accessible. Everyone can benefit from an optimised HR team. It's important to remember the reason for the project and its practical benefits.

Related: 13 milestones in project management (with definitions)

Ways of using project management techniques in HR

There are several ways you can use project management skills in an HR team. How you use these skills may vary and depend on the size, budget or industry of a business. Here are some ways to use your project management skills in human resources:

Tools

Technology has transformed the capabilities of HR project management. Performance analysis tools help HR professionals visibly keep track of employees' performances. They also help eliminate potential bias or error from performance reviews. In turn, this saves time when making significant decisions about promotions, salary increases or disciplinary action needed. Consider these points if you're using project management tools in HR:

  • training for users of these tools

  • installation and maintenance costs (if any)

  • data protection and access

For example, imagine that you're an HR professional assigned to review a new colleague after their initial probation period has ended. You may consider using a digital tool to track their productivity and note any areas for growth. You can then work through this system with your colleague to show them their progress and highlight and discuss where they can improve. This means that the review process is transparent, practical and easy to understand.

Read more: What are project management tools (with 15 examples)

Hiring talent

In HR, you may help write job descriptions, interview candidates and make formal job offers. Many factors go into the hiring process and these steps can differ between HR professionals. It can benefit both professionals and candidates to view the hiring process as a project. By applying project management techniques to the recruitment process, you can standardise it to make it easier for all parties involved. This ensures it's more transparent for candidates and allows multiple colleagues to assist without miscommunication. These are some of the ways that you can introduce project management skills into the hiring process:

  • set interview and hiring quotas within the organisation

  • monitor accessibility across the hiring process

  • centralise CV collections

  • track interview times and panels

  • monitor job listings, applicant numbers and closure dates

For example, when hiring for an internship position, you might use a dedicated online workspace to detail who has applied for the role and when to expect candidates for interviews. You can share this with your colleagues and make sure they understand what the company expects of them. Include a section for comments and questions.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

Resource management

Managing company resources is a large part of some HR roles. There are two significant parts to resource management that an HR professional may deal with: people and money. By viewing resource management as a project, you can better allocate company resources and potentially reduce costs in the long term. Here are some of the ways that you can do this:

  • reallocate staff based on department needs

  • identify the cause of any delays between departments or to customers

  • create a long-term overview of any plans to improve efficiency or reduce costs

  • advise colleagues on the best practices for employment

  • optimise the training process for new hires

In the case of resource management, long-term thinking is beneficial. In most cases, cost reduction and output optimisation is a process that spans several years and involves careful planning. Utilising your project management skills, you can set milestones and goals for different periods and track when you meet them. This can provide a more accurate timeframe when planning for future projects.

Staffing

As an HR professional, you may encounter situations where you have an excess of staff available or insufficient employees for your requirements. To help you identify these situations in advance, create a project overview for each department. This can help you understand how many people each department needs for each task to optimise progress. You can then determine if there are any areas of low staff numbers and protect against absence and delays.

For example, consider the role of an HR department within a marketing company. The company may notice an increase in demand for its graphic design services and prevent delays in project delivery by using project management tools. It can create a project overview with estimates of how many people it needs by viewing each department as a project. HR can then act accordingly to prevent a shortage of staff.

Related: Project scheduling: definition, benefits, formats and steps

Training and development

HR professionals may be responsible for organising training events and team bonding. This is a crucial part of the working environment because it promotes team cohesion and regularly develops teamwork skills. Specialist training at regular intervals can maintain efficiency within your team and increase productivity. Regular opportunities to bond with team members can reduce miscommunication and create authentic working relationships between colleagues.

For example, someone may task you with arranging a training session for the sales team, focusing on communication and teamwork. This is an opportunity to use your project management skills for a self-managed task. There are some steps you can take and questions to consider when you plan a session. Remember to set realistic goals and understand who can benefit from the event and how they can do so. Identify opportunities to reflect on your project management skills and what you might do differently next time. Steps you can take include:

  1. Create a project overview: What can you do and when can you do it?

  2. Set a deadline: When is the session and how much notice do you provide?

  3. Note your overall aims and any milestone goals: What can attendees learn?

  4. Gather data: How many attendees are you expecting?

  5. Assign tasks to colleagues: Do you need help and what exactly are you expecting?

  6. Plan for regular communication with colleagues: Do they know what they're doing and when?

  7. Gather first-hand feedback: Was the event successful in achieving its goal?

  8. Track the success of the event afterwards for future reference: How can you improve next time?

Related:

  • What is a project management degree? (With skills and roles)


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