Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (2023)

  • Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (1)

    Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (2)
  • Elise Dopson



  • resource management

Resource planning is a surefire way to optimize the use of resources across projects. You assign tasks to team members based on their skill set, capacity, and fit for the project in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

In other words, the process of planning resources helps you answer the two most important questions a project manager can ask:

  1. How do I ensure the project gets finished without overworking my team?
  2. How can we deliver this on time and within budget?

If you’re looking for ways to create a more effective project resource plan, let’s dive in!

What is resource planning?

In short, resource planning is a strategic method of organizing and allocating resources to tasks needed to complete projects.

Most of the time, resources refer to your people (often the most considerable expense), so you need to plan their time based on capacity, skill sets, and other factors.

Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (3)

Why is resource planning important?

Maximizing project outcomes by allocating tasks to both human and non-human resources is the textbook definition of resource planning. Did you know that 83% of senior executives say strategically managing resources is the top lever that powers company growth? Or that companies can save 28 times more money when they create resource management plans?

Creating a comprehensive resourcing plan (before the start of a project) helps you:

  • Increase efficiency, as you know what resources you need and how they’re allocated to project tasks.
  • Optimize the team’s utilization rates by matching the right skill sets to the right tasks.
  • Track capacity and availability. If unforeseen resource needs arise, you’ll be ready to address them.
  • Improve job satisfaction and retention in your team—no more burnout or overwhelmed team members.
  • Monitor progress to keep projects on budget and work on track. You can see at a glance what each person should be working on and for how long.
  • Plan and predict your resource availability for future projects, which helps your team become more organized in the long term.

Resource planning for teams provides a reliable basis to start projects and improves the chance of delivering them on time and within budget.

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Plan your team's best work with Float, the #1 rated software on G2 for resource management. Get an accurate view of your team's capacity to plan resources and schedule tasks with confidence.

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How do organizations handle resource planning?

We’ll get into the specific steps in a minute, but generally speaking, planning resources can be done using something as simple as a spreadsheet. You identify and list your resources and track their availability.

A resource planning tool built specifically to make capacity management and time tracking easier can take things a step further by enabling easier sorting, tracking, and more accurate reporting on resources.

Still using spreadsheets for resource planning? Try built-for-purpose software that's easy to use and get started.

More than 4,000 of the world's top teams choose Float to plan resources and schedule their team's time. Connect resource planning with your existing workflows via direct integrations, and get set up within minutes.

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What are the methods of resource planning?

Resource planning includes various methods, such as resource leveling and resource smoothing (two popular resource management techniques). Resource allocation and resource utilization are processes that ultimately help with the complete planning of resources.

Whatever you use for resource planning, it helps to begin by knowing exactly who can work on what, how long it will take, and how it will fit into your overall project pipeline.

To get the most out of resource planning, you need to be able to customize and keep track of every part of a project (like the team members working on it) and what it’s going to cost you. We’re talking about variable resource inputs like:

  • Workdays
  • Contract start and end dates
  • Hourly rates
  • Title and job roles
  • Skill sets
  • Availability

How to create a resource plan: 7 steps in the resource planning process

Now, let's go through the steps for effective resource planning for any project.

1. Lay out project tasks and the resources you have

In the planning phase, you'll want to decide which project your team should tackle next. This is also when you'll determine and request the resources needed for the project.

You'll need to outline your project tasks and list your resources. Will some tasks take much longer than others? Are there tasks that need to be frontloaded?

34% of teams work overtime to complete their assigned work, 80% or more of the time. Carefully consider every task necessary to complete the project so that nothing goes unaccounted for.

2. Hold a resource management meeting

We all love to hate meetings, but they're a necessary part of the resource management process.

62% of leaders identify resource scheduling as their biggest project management challenge. So you need to hold a resource management meeting to ensure everyone is headed in the same direction.

If you're juggling multiple projects with multiple crossover teams, it might mean you'll need to take the time to compromise on the allocation of those resources with team leaders. As you make these decisions, it's crucial to have a point of reference for all stakeholders involved to give you a hand with resource management techniques.

Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (4)

Take MetaLab, for example. It took a long time for resource managers to update their spreadsheets as the team worked asynchronously through projects. Operations Manager Georgia McGillivray saved about three hours weekly once she switched to Float to manage the company's resources.

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"Now we're able to plug tentative projects into Float and see three months into the future. That gives our executives and partnerships team a line of sight into how we'll staff future projects and our ability to take on additional projects."

3. Match resources to tasks

Managing team workloads means matching resources to tasks. However, it's important to remember that you'll never nail matching resources to tasks perfectly—but you can get close.

Social Chain's team knows matching resources to tasks is possible with the tools resource planning software like Float arms them with. "We use Float as a workload management tool to see where teams might need support, where we might need to hire, and where we might be able to shuffle things in terms of workload," says Managing Director Kay Leeson.

4. Set a budget and track time

Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (5)

If you've been in project management for more than a second, you know it's critical to set a budget and to take time into account. Time is paramount to planning because it's your team's most valuable resource.

For example, let's look at Social Chain again. The accounts and project teams can plan campaigns based on their crucial project data, including the budget and how many hours are required. "Every project and scheduled resource is managed through Float. Simply put, if it's not in Float, it's not getting done," says Head of Design Jamie Bryan.

As you set a budget, it's helpful to refer to post-project data from previous work to gauge how much you'll spend with the resources at hand. Reliable resource forecasting and reporting tools can be of great help here.

5. Create forecasts

Freelancers, small agencies, enterprise-grade businesses, and everyone else who manages projects need to get a handle on their future planning. Situations like these in the tweet below are all too familiar:

Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (6)

What's happening in the future that we must take care of now as we juggle ten other things? When you forecast future planning, it becomes easier to answer that question. You must decide on the approach you'll take first—whether that's lead, lag, or match. Then you'll want to use a tool like Float to prepare your team for each approach.

For instance, if you're matching tasks to resources, you'll need to know when you've hit a resource shortage, which might mean staffing your project workflow with outside contractors to help get the job done. Do you have room in the budget to do that? Float makes it easy to make that determination quickly.

6. Update your resource plan

Though it would be nice for it to be a one-and-done process, resource planning is something you'll constantly have to update as you go. Why? Not everything will go as planned, and you'll need to make adjustments along the way for things like:

  • Slow approvals
  • Unforeseen scope adjustments
  • Team members dropping out of a project for unexpected reasons
  • Getting the hours you initially allocated cut in half

Situations like these are when resource management software shines. Can you imagine handling slow approvals and scope adjustments while two team members drop out altogether without a tool to help you bounce back?

Project management can be challenging. There's no debating that. However, resource management software makes it a breeze to adjust based on resource availability.

7. Perform a post-project analysis

Now it's time to perform a post-project analysis to help you approach your next project armed with the knowledge to maximize resources even better. Performing a post-project analysis involves looking at the number of resources you budgeted vs. the resources your project took to complete.

Were you over or under hours? Did you need to bring in an outside contractor to help complete specific tasks? Is it possible that any hours went unaccounted for?

If you discover discrepancies between profits and resources spent on projects, a thorough post-project analysis makes it easier to course-correct as you move forward.

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While spreadsheets can do the job if you don't have any other option, they should never be your first choice. Planning your resources this way can quickly become impossible when your team expands, and you begin to take on more projects. That's when you and a resource planning tool become best friends for life.

Consider the variable resource inputs you need to track over time—things like billable hours, skill sets, and ongoing tasks for each team member. With resource planning software, you can track all that and more and have a bird's eye view of capacity whenever you need it. You can see what everyone is working on at all times!

Try the #1 rated resource planner that keeps projects on track

Rated #1 on G2 for resource management software, Float gives you the most accurate view of your team's capacity and workload to create accurate resource plans.

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How to use a resource planning tool effectively

A resource planning tool is like having a brilliant team schedule that helps you optimize. You can:

  • Identify the resources and people you need for a project
  • Forecast your resources required for every day/week/month of the project, and schedule them accordingly
  • Create a detailed project timescale and resource schedule
  • Stay on budget—all of your team's rates are calculated automatically when you allocate their time
  • Maintain a live view of when team members are available and when they're on holiday

All of this would be extra challenging to achieve without some kind of dedicated software. 57% of agencies with a reliable resource planning tool say that their organization always schedules their team's workload and time on projects effectively.

Let's imagine you've just landed a new client, and they need you to build them a new website. Your company has made similar sites, so you know you will require development and design resources to execute the job.

You also know that it should take your developer roughly 20 hours and your designer 10 hours to complete their respective tasks. Using a resource planning tool, you can create the project and effectively forecast what you need regarding resources (ahem, people).

Next, you need to assign tasks to your team. You can search your resource availability and select team members based on their job titles and skills (in this case, developer and designer). Now that we've selected the team members needed and know the required hours, all that's left is assigning the tasks to each person on the schedule.

Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (7)

In Float, once a team member has been assigned a project, they'll be notified by email, push notification, and/or Slack and can work on completing their tasks. You can keep tabs on their progress on your end and make sure they're hitting their milestones.

1. Multi-project organization features

Organizing a single project within your team might be easy enough, but resource planning gets trickier once you have multiple projects going simultaneously.

The reason is simple—our brains aren't made to simultaneously plan and delegate thousands of tasks. Luckily, that's exactly what a resource planning tool is built to do!

Social Chain faced this hurdle when its team size grew from just a handful of people to more than 160 creatives across the U.K. and the U.S. The company's Director of Video, Jason Fisher, realized he needed a resource planning system to help organize his growing team.

As the agency constantly juggles several projects at once, Fisher needed a way to coordinate projects and manage his team's calendars efficiently. Sometimes multiple daytime blocks were required for a video shoot. Using Float, Fisher manages his team's schedule with half, full, and consecutive blocked days for resource bookings.

Social Chain's accounts and sales team can access their project pipeline using the resource planning tool. This helped with another issue—selling above the team's resource capacity. Because they could always check their team's availability, it stopped them from booking projects without having the resources available.

"As a team, we can view the overall workload and time frames involved, while as an individual, you can keep track of what tasks or projects you are working on and what projects you can (or cannot) take on based on your schedule," says Fisher.

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2. Real-time updates and tracking

Who updates that resource spreadsheet when a team member books a holiday or changes their availability? 🤨 After all, delivering projects on time (and on budget) relies on people completing the tasks when they've been allocated. Yet tracking project performance is still a massive problem for businesses.

With a resource planning tool, updates happen in real time.

And the next time a team member looks at their schedule? Yep, it will have already updated itself—automatically. It's the easiest way to keep an eye on a project and its status without bombarding your team's email inboxes.

3. High-level dashboard of team work schedules and resource availability

Chances are your team's availability is varied. Some people might work part-time, and others might only be available on certain days (and don't forget those lucky few on vacation). Keeping up to date with who is available and when is crucial to your resource planning strategy and keeping your projects on track.

With a resource planning tool, you can set and update your team's individual work hours. This availability is reflected in your resource planner so that you can schedule resources based on your capacity.

Of course, the real beauty comes when juggling different projects and allocating resources to tasks. With Float, you can visualize your entire team's availability on one screen and decide how to assign (and reassign, if necessary) each task to a resource based on skill sets and capacity.

4. Forecasting and budget tracking

A study by PMI found less than 60% of projects are completed within budget.

With a resource planning tool, it's easy to keep projects within budget—automatically. Using Float as an example, every team member has their hourly rate saved into their profile. If you're assigning a design resource to a $2000 project and they charge $50/hour, you know you can allocate 40 hours to it. Once you allocate more than that, you'll be able to see that you are over budget within your project budget report.

Resource Planning: A Complete Guide to Smart Resource Plans (8)

Of course, you're likely to have several departments working on a project, and their hourly rates might differ. Using a resource planning tool keeps track of them all. Once you set milestones for them, a tool like Float will closely track the project's performance alongside its resources' billable hours.

5. Project reporting tools for smarter decision making

Having a birds-eye view of every project in your pipeline and resource capacity is the best way to keep your entire business on track. This is a vital role of resource planning software.

Not only does resource planning software help you predict if your projects will be successful, but it also gives you an easy way to collate all your data. A McKinsey study found that companies that used scenarios as a decision-making technique in their resource planning were 36% more likely to become a faster-growing company than their competitors.

Using a resource planning tool will give you a clear visual of:

  • Available resources and future resource capacity
  • Scheduled/unscheduled resource hours
  • Project budgets (and if you're sticking to them)
  • Overallocation
  • Team member's scheduled hours and their capacity

Resource planning made easy

If you’re still planning your projects with spreadsheets and whiteboards, chances are you’re not maximizing your team’s time or tracking budgets efficiently. This is exactly how project deadlines and budgets get thrown off track.

With a tool like Float, planning your team's time and scheduling your resources can save you up to four hours a week!

But the real win comes from keeping every member of your team on the same page. They will know what projects they’re working on, when they need to be finished, and what the overall project pipeline looks like.

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Can you do resource planning in smartsheet? ›

Formerly 10,000ft, Resource Management by Smartsheet is a resource planning solution that helps businesses across all industries find and schedule the right people for every project, track and manage time and forecast hiring needs to better plan for growth.

What are the 3 stages of resource planning? ›

What are three steps of resource planning?
  • Identification and inventory of resources. '
  • Evolving a planning structure with appropriate technology, skill and institutional set-up for implementing resource development plans.
  • Matching the resource development plans with overall national development plans.

How does Smartsheet integrate with resource management? ›

It's a two-step process to use the panel. First, authorize your account (one time only), then connect a project sheet to Resource Management. Once the sheet is connected to Resource Management Panel, you can use the panel to see: People or placeholders assigned to tasks in your Resource Management project.

What are the five steps of resource planning? ›

5 important steps in resource planning process
  • Plan the project. At the top of the resource planning process are the people who are setting it up and thinking what kind of project team is needed. ...
  • Resource management meetings. ...
  • Tracking time. ...
  • Forecasting the future. ...
  • Updating the resource plan.

What are the 5 steps for resource management? ›

  • Step 1: Resource Planning. To determine the resource requirements for completing a project, you first need to understand the work. ...
  • Step 2: Estimate Resources / Resource Allocation. ...
  • Step 3: Acquire Resources. ...
  • Step 4: Develop and Manage Team. ...
  • Step 5: Continuously Evaluate Resources.

What is resource planning and why it is important? ›

Resource planning refers to the strategy for planned and judicious utilisation of resources. Resource planning is essential for the sustainable existence of all forms of life. This shows that resource planning is needed at the national, regional, state and local levels for the balanced development of a country.

What is a resource planning tool? ›

Resource planning tools, or resource management software are a type of project management tool that aids in planning and scheduling. Such a tool allows you to plan and allocate resources. You can also track which resource is working on what project when they are doing so, and for how long.

What do u mean by resource planning? ›

Resource Planning is a process of identifying, forecasting, and allocating various types of business resources to the projects at the right time and cost. It also ensures the efficient and effective utilization of resources across the enterprise.

What should a resource plan include? ›

Visibility into capacity, demand, and availability

Resource capacity, availability, and demand are the three key concepts your resource plan is built around. Your solution should give you a firm grasp on each with direct access to relevant data for all projects in your company's portfolio.

What are the different types of resource planning? ›

There are two types of resource plans. One is hypothetical, based on resource type set without any resource constraints. Resource type refers to the skill set that a task requires for completion. The other is an actual resource plan, based on actual resource availability.

What is a resource planning chart? ›

Project managers use resource planning charts like Gantt charts to find the critical path, a color-coded network diagram that displays a sequence of activities through the project schedule, the duration of each task, and the longest path from the start of the first project activity to the end of the last activity.

How do you track resource capacity? ›

  1. Calculate your resource capacity. ...
  2. Summarize your capacity into skills or teams. ...
  3. Understand what projects and work you want to do. ...
  4. Prioritize your projects and work. ...
  5. Estimate your work and assign teams or skills. ...
  6. Check if you have sufficient resource. ...
  7. Analyze and resolve your resource capacity issues.

How do you calculate resource utilization? ›

Calculating resource utilization

Determine the maximum number of available working hours. Determine the number of billable hours worked. Divide the billable hour total by the available working hour total. Multiply the result by 100.

How do I create a resource view in Smartsheet? ›

To do this: Click the Menu icon (upper-left corner of the Smartsheet window) > Home. Right-click the Resource Views command, and click Create New View. Select the sheets or resources for which you want to see allocation and click OK.

What is 10000 feet by Smartsheet? ›

10,000ft is a resource and project planning solution that empowers everyone across the organization to make confident operational decisions. Through simple, intuitive design, 10,000ft makes it easy to see and act on critical data across your projects and people.

Does Smartsheet have time tracking? ›

Hours and minutes: Precise tracking that maintains efficiency. Hours and Minutes time tracking allows people to enter the exact time spent on each project or phase. Your people can confirm the suggested hours for the days they work according to the plan, or enter their own hours.

What is the first step in resource planning? ›

The first step of resource planning is identifying the resources present in a region.

What is the first step in HR planning? ›

Human resource planning is the process of forecasting organisation's demand and supply of manpower need in future. The first and foremost step is to determine the objective for the process to carried on.

What are the 7 roles of HR? ›

What Does an HR Manager Do? 7 Functions of the Human Resources Department
  • Recruitment and Hiring.
  • Training and Development.
  • Employer-Employee Relations.
  • Maintain Company Culture.
  • Manage Employee Benefits.
  • Create a Safe Work Environment.
  • Handle Disciplinary Actions.

What is a resource model? ›

Resource modeling is a feature of resource management software that allows you to visualize resource data. With this, you can better plan how your resources are allocated across multiple projects over time. What's more, you can create models to test scenarios – an invaluable aid in predicting a wide range of scenarios.

What makes a good resource management? ›

The Basics of Resource Management

Regardless of work methodology, leaders seeking to practice effective resource management must balance demand with capacity while also understanding the needs of the business to prioritize, plan, and schedule work with the right teams, people, and skill sets.

What are the 4 organizational resources? ›

The four basic types of organizational resources are human, monetary, raw materials and Capital. Organizational resources are combined, used, and transformed into finished products during the production process. Human resources are the people who work for an organization.

What are the three major kinds of strategies used in resource management? ›

3 Most Effective Resource Management Strategies
  • Get an overview and see what you're working with.
  • Create a stronger team by defining and sharing company goals.
  • Optimize resource allocation.

What are some examples of resource management? ›

Examples of resource management would include scheduling, budgeting, and planning of any relevant projects.

How do I create a resource sheet in Smartsheet? ›

To do this: Click the Menu icon (upper-left corner of the Smartsheet window) > Home. Right-click the Resource Views command, and click Create New View. Select the sheets or resources for which you want to see allocation and click OK.

What is a resource view in Smartsheet? ›

A resource view provides a visual way to track and review how people in your Smartsheet plan (resources) are allocated across the projects they're working on. Use resource views to make decisions about resource workloads.

How do I create a project plan in Smartsheet? ›

How To Create A Project Plan In Smartsheet - YouTube

Does Smartsheet have time tracking? ›

Hours and minutes: Precise tracking that maintains efficiency. Hours and Minutes time tracking allows people to enter the exact time spent on each project or phase. Your people can confirm the suggested hours for the days they work according to the plan, or enter their own hours.

Is Smartsheet used for project management? ›

Smartsheet powers a modern way of managing projects by focusing on the work people do – regardless of the type, methodology, or process. Support hybrid work using a flexible platform that drives better communication, collaboration, and processes that scale, all built to empower individuals and teams.

Is Smartsheet easy to use? ›

In theory, Smartsheet shouldn't have a steep learning curve. Unfortunately, that's not the case. The interface isn't very user-friendly, which can make it challenging to chart and analyze data. Unless you're generating reports, there's no real easy way to analyze the sheets at-a-glance.

What do you use Smartsheet for? ›

What is Smartsheet — and why is it different? Smartsheet is the only platform that can scale from a single project to end-to-end work management, connecting business on a no-code, cloud-based platform where anyone can create the solution they need — backed by the control and security IT requires.

What is resource planning? ›

Resource planning is a strategic approach to ensuring resources are used in the most effective way, across a single project or a portfolio of work. When executed properly, organizations achieve maximum efficiency and optimization in their use of resources, without under- or over-utilizing any one resource.

What are some examples of resource management? ›

Examples of resource management would include scheduling, budgeting, and planning of any relevant projects.

How do you manage resources? ›

Top 12 Resource Management Best Practices
  1. Understand which resources are in short supply and focus on them. ...
  2. Agree on a common approach to prioritizing work across shared resources. ...
  3. Embrace different ways of working across the organization and resources. ...
  4. Realize resource management is an ongoing process.

What are the 5 phases of IT projects? ›

Developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the five phases of project management include conception and initiation, project planning, project execution, performance/monitoring, and project close.

Does Smartsheet have a WBS template? ›

Manage multiple clients, direct reports, and projects with this simple yet visual WBS template. Add levels based on specific project needs and divide individual tasks based on each client, team member, or project to ensure you always have visibility into the work being done by whom.

Who uses Smartsheet? ›

Companies using SmartSheet for Collaboration include: Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a Netherlands based Automotive organisation with 281595 employees and revenues of $169.95 billion, The Home Depot, Inc., a United States based Retail organisation with 500000 employees and revenues of $132.11 billion, ...

How do I show hours in Smartsheet? ›

To set the hours in a working day:

Toggle to the Gantt chart view (make sure your dependencies are enabled). On the right-hand side, in the Gantt view, click the gear icon. Under Dependency Settings, in the section called Working Days, click Edit. Under Length of Day, enter the number of hours in the workday.

Does Asana have a time tracker? ›

Asana doesn't have time tracking features, so you'll need an external time tracking app. Clockify integrates with Asana, enabling you and your team to track time on tasks straight from Asana, for free.


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