Resource management problems, challenges, and solutions

common resource management problems and solutions

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a perpetual game of resource management whack-a-mole? Projects are running late, it’s impossible to forecast resources with any certainty, and launching new endeavors feels like a blind leap into the unknown.

Sound familiar? If so, these are all symptoms of resource management problems.

And here is the thing: you are not the first person to hit these resource management problems, and you won’t be the last. Surprisingly, the solutions are often easier than you think.

So, let’s look at the most common resource management challenges and actionable solutions to solve them.

Table of contents

You don't know if you have enough resources

Do you find yourself not having enough resources to do your projects? Or have the wrong mix of skills? Or teams with not enough work to do?

In our experience, this is the number one cause of resource management problems in organizations we work with. Resource forecasting aims to solve this problem.

Resource forecasting is often called capacity planning and this is the terminology we typically use at Kelloo.

As its name implies, resource forecasting helps you understand your future resource and skill requirements based on your current and future project pipeline.

A resource forecast may look out for 3-12 months depending on things like your resource hiring time, sales cycle or project roadmap.

Resource Management Process Infographic

Resource forecasts are high-level – they don’t normally get down into the weeds looking at individual resources. Rather, you compare the capacity of resources / skills vs the headcount / skill needs for projects.

If you are ready to tackle resource forecasting head-on, here are some great resources to get started with: 

You can build a simple resource forecast in a spreadsheet which is ok for a small team with a handful of projects. For anything else check out a resource forecasting solution

Resources have too much work

Do you feel your resources are flip-flopping between having too much work (overutilized) or too little work (underutilized)?

The most common reason for overutilized resources we come across is managers failing to take into account that people work on other activities besides projects. 

So resource plans don’t include things like meetings, business-as-usual activities, support and all the other good stuff people do to keep things moving along. Research shows that this can be around 12% of a resource’s day

A simple solution to this is to only plan resources at say 90% of their capacity and leave some headroom for non-project work.

A great way to check and report on your resource utilization is using a heatmap like the one included in Kelloo. It is visual and easy to understand and at a glance, you can spot teams and people with too much work or capacity to take on more work. Alternatively, download our free resource utilization report template.


Resources have too little work

On the flip side, having resources with too little work is normally due to poor project resource planning or resource allocation. Things like shifting priorities, new projects seeking resources and project delays create a constantly moving landscape that the resource manager needs to oversee.

Unless you have a small team trying to keep a handle on who is working on what and when is practically impossible to do in your head. Instead, think about using resource planning software

Resource planning software lets you quickly and easily build resource plans ensuring people don’t have gaps in their schedule or have too much work. 

Kelloo's resource management tools

Resource planning, forecasting and reporting in one place. We help you get the most from your projects and people.

Approving projects without considering resource levels

This is often overlooked as a resource management problem but has the biggest impact.

When deciding if you can start up a new project you need to ensure you have enough resources with the right skills. However, most organizations don’t just have one project, they have tens of projects all competing for the same resources and they lose sight of which projects they should focus their resources on. Taking a portfolio wide approach to resource management becomes necessary as the number of projects increases.

Decisions on what projects you can start up should also take into account the capacity of your resources to do the projects. Instead, decisions are based on guesswork about skill and resource levels.

The solution to this is capacity planning. Like everything in life, resource management is a series of trade-offs. Capacity planning lets you model how starting up a new project, delaying a project or hiring more resources will impact your projects and resource utilization.

In a recent report from Wellingtone about the State of Project Management, attempting to run too many projects was cited as the 2nd largest project management challenge faced. Making decisions on your bandwidth to take on more projects should always be based on your resource capacity.

pm challanges

Resources working on the wrong projects

Does your resource management process take into account your organizational priorities? 

If you are a customer-facing organization these are normally quite easy to understand. But for internal projects, you need a way to prioritize your projects so resource allocation is aligned with what is valuable to your organization.

Successful organizations are not the ones who deliver the most projects. They are the organizations that deliver the right projects. 

It’s a no-brainer – but often overlooked.

Often there is a disconnect between your organization’s strategic priorities and the projects that resources get allocated to. Therefore, the solution is to use a resource management solution that lets you take into account strategic priorities when selecting and staffing projects.

Decisions use out of date information

Most folks starting out with resource management start out trying to handle it using resource management spreadsheets. And to be honest you can just about get away with this if you have a small team and a handful of projects.

But here is the deal. Using spreadsheets for resource management is probably the biggest issue hurting you right now.

What starts out as a simple planning spreadsheet quickly grows into spreadsheet hell. Eventually, errors creep in, updates are not made and reporting becomes a major headache.

In short, you are making key decisions based on poor-quality information.

Spreadsheets are often the initial go-to tool for building a resource management solution. But don’t go there.

They do not scale and require a lot of manual input to achieve what a dedicated resource management tool can do with a couple of clicks. 

Agile is not incorporated into the resource management process

Agile is a way of organizing work often used by software, product development and IT organizations.

Organizations running agile often neglect or ignore resource management. Either because they don’t think it’s necessary or they haven’t found a way to accommodate it in their resource management process.

The truth is, irrespective of the delivery mechanism (agile, waterfall or hybrid) organizations need to plan. They need to plan what products they will be launching, how they will invest their money and crucially the resources they will need

And ironically, it is quite easy to incorporate agile into your resource planning process. Resource management solutions like Kelloo let you manage agile and non-agile / traditional practices in the same tool.

Resources are shared across projects

In an ideal world, resources would work on one project at a time. However, the reality is that resources often have to split their time across multiple projects. This is a real headache for resource managers.

Key challenges include:

  • Checking resources are not overutilized while ensuring individual projects have enough resources.
  • Re-organizing resources as priorities changes.
  • Negotiating with project managers as schedules change.

Here are some strategies you can adopt to make multi-project resource management easier.

Resource management software - the solution to your resource management problems

There are many moving parts to an effective resource management process and most organizations find the answer is to use resource management software. Check out our resource management software buyers guide to look at some resource management solutions to consider. 

Solutions like Kelloo include all the tools you need to optimize your resource management including resource and team planning, capacity planning and utilization reporting.

Our latest articles and tips straight to your inbox

If you liked it then share it

Other things you may like

What if scenario analysis

What if scenario analysis in project management

The new what if planning features in Kelloo give you a crystal ball at your fingertips so you can see the future. What if planning shows what will happen if you change project timings, delay projects, hire or fire resources or cancel or commit to new projects.