What is a resource planner? (Definition, key aspects and pros)
Updated 1 March 2023
Resource planning helps organisations utilise resources effectively to complete projects while maintaining client satisfaction. This involves understanding the various resources available and allocating them to a project for a specific time. Learning about resource planning can help you decide whether it is a possible career for you. In this article, we answer the question ‘What is a resource planner?', outline the key aspects of their role, explain the stages of a resource plan and highlight the benefits of resource planning.
What is a resource planner?
The answer to the question ‘What is a resource planner?' is that it's an individual who ensures that teams and companies use resources efficiently across one or more projects. A resource planner, or resource manager, typically identifies, organises, allocates and forecasts different types of resources for projects. Factors such as market fluctuations may cause changes during a project, and resource planning helps companies remain flexible during these adjustments.
For example, company goals may become redundant with new technological advancements. In such cases, resource planning allows these organisations to adapt their strategies and objectives.
Key aspects of a resource planner's job
Examine the following key aspects of a resource planner's job:
Resource managers may benefit from learning about their team members' skills to know how and when they can utilise them. For example, a resource manager in a tech firm is usually familiar with each developer's skill set and knows when they're available to work on specific projects. They may use this understanding to build cross-functional teams consisting of individuals with different abilities who can work more effectively on projects. Maintaining the same teams for various projects can allow team members to build stronger relationships and complete tasks faster.
Time is a factor resource managers can use to track progress and plan for resource allocation for the remaining aspects of a project. They usually estimate how much time teams need for project completion and adjustments as soon as possible. This allows companies to predict deliverables for future projects, set practical expectations and produce outcomes within deadlines.
People are valuable assets because they embody skills and talents that allow companies to produce deliverables that meet client needs. Employing people requires funds to recruit, train and compensate them for their services. Resource managers may help companies understand the people they've hired, determine their skill sets and assess their capabilities in terms of producing specific outcomes. For example, resource managers typically know the number of programmers, marketing specialists, accountants and managers available for a company project and understand how to allocate them depending on the outcome of interest.
Resource managers often collect data from previous projects to predict the finances, periods and skills a team needs for future work. They typically know what data to gather to plan and strategise for optimal outcomes. An example is a resource manager in an accounting agency reviewing key performance indicators from previous audits and tax filings to understand what accounting teams need when performing these tasks in the future.
Another example is a resource manager in a law firm collecting data from previous legal proceedings to gauge the number of lawyers and legal secretaries the firm needs for a legal project.
Budget management involves knowing the rates of the team members working on a project, the time the company allocated for it and the overall budget available. This allows resource managers to determine the people they can assign these tasks to, depending on the skills necessary for the project, while considering the timeline. If the project exceeds the budget, they may consider switching some team members with those with lower rates or seeking additional funds.
Stages of a resource plan
These are the different stages of a resource plan:
Identifying resources involves determining the elements a project requires for successful completion. For example, if an engineering firm wants to take on a new project, a resource manager may review data from the firm's previous engineering projects and find engineers with specific skills depending on the project type. They can also evaluate the costs of taking on the project and assess the time the team requires for its completion.
Procurement of resources
After identifying the necessary resources for a project, resource managers use resource management tools to determine the availability of team members with relevant skills. This process typically depends on the size of the project. Managers can subdivide large projects into smaller components before assigning tasks to available employees. For smaller projects, managers may assign tasks for the full course of the project. Resource managers may also anticipate important changes, such as alterations in team members' schedules and prioritisation of some tasks over others. This enables them to adjust plans accordingly.
Resource visualisation and management
Resource managers can use spreadsheet software and other resource management tools to visualise resource plans. These tools allow them to store, access and view the various resources they allocated to a project. They may use them to track progress, access previous resource plans and learn from them. These tools can also help them determine the availability of certain resources, such as funds and individuals, when planning projects.
Visualising resources helps in managing them by monitoring them throughout a project. This involves positioning and prioritising resources depending on whether they're already in use. For example, a team may want to begin a new project while they already have an ongoing one. In that case, resource managers can use visualisation tools to view and prioritise resources depending on which tasks are more urgent.
Once a project has begun, resource managers can monitor and adjust resources when changes arise. They may note the changes they've made alongside the reasons for the adjustments and learn from them. This allows them to plan more efficiently for future projects. Over time, each plan can become more accurate than the previous one, needing fewer adjustments.
Benefits of resource planning
Resource planning is integral to project management because it often determines a project's success. The tools resource managers use may empower companies to complete projects more efficiently using reliable resources. Here are some benefits of resource planning:
Maximises utilisation of resources
Resource planning involves knowing the resource pool a company has for a specific project. Resource managers who understand the available skill sets and funds for a project can utilise them optimally, leading to more successful deliveries. For example, if a construction company wants to take on a new project, a resource manager typically assesses the raw materials, civil engineers, architects and funds available for it. This helps them create a plan within a specific budget and timeline that can lead to the successful completion of the construction project.
Ensures timely delivery
Resource managers typically evaluate the time teams may need for completing projects before allocating resources such as people and budgets. This involves creating schedules for team members to follow and managers to track. Schedules can encourage teams to start projects early and complete them on time. They may also motivate individuals to be more productive. This usually leads to customer satisfaction and retention.
Helps predict project timelines
When planning future projects, resource managers typically observe data, which is a key resource planning element. They may look at timelines for similar projects a company completed in the past and review any changes they made throughout the project. This can help them predict appropriate timelines for future work and anticipate new opportunities and challenges that may disrupt schedules. It can also ensure timely deliveries for future projects.
Improves project flow
Effective resource planning enables managers to allocate adequate and high-quality resources to projects. This helps ensure that a project receives adequate funds, time and talent, allowing it to proceed at maximum speed and eliminating mistakes that would take time to rectify. These factors typically lead to more successful outcomes, which can increase client retention and bring in new customers. Project flow can improve if resource managers utilise visualisation tools to track projects.
Adequate resource planning can help resource managers determine a suitable budget for projects. This allows for proper usage of funds, which can boost a project's profitability and its chances of success. For example, a resource manager can increase profitability by finding people with specific skill sets whose rates are affordable while still maintaining high-quality products.
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