Ultimate Guide to Resource Management

Tactics, best practices and tips to help you make the most of your resources

Resource management basics

Before we dive into specific techniques and aspects of resource management, let’s cover the basic definitions, vocabulary, and frequently asked questions. Are you ready? Let’s start!

What is resource management?

Resource management is the planning and optimization of an organization’s resources to enable them to execute projects efficiently.

It involves identifying resource needs, allocating them effectively, and continuously monitoring and adjusting workloads to enhance productivity while preventing overallocation or underutilization.

Note: While resources can also be things like machines etc. most people looking to use resource management techniques are focused on human resources. That’s why all the tips and techniques in this guide are about human resource management. Although many things are universal and apply to the management of any type of resource.

Resource management in a nutshell

You don’t need to know everything about resource management to be successful, but you need to understand the basic components.

  • Forecasting. Involves determining the resources required to achieve your project goals. So how many resources do you need, when, and with what skills?
  • Planning. Allocating resources to specific projects or work based on criteria such as availability and skills fit.
  • Optimization. The ongoing evaluation and adjustment of resource usage to maximize efficiency and productivity while ensuring resources are not overutilized.

In the following chapters, we take a look at each of these in more detail. Whether you are new to resource management and just want a primer or want to take your resource management to the next level, there is something for everyone.

We will also look at some of the different tools you can use for resource management such as resource management software or resource management spreadsheets.

resource management focus and basics

Tip: Throughout this guide, we talk about resource management in relation to projects. But if projects are not your thing – perhaps you focus on agile or product development most of the tips and guidance will still apply to you.

Resource management useful vocabulary and terms

As soon as you start digging into resource management, you’ll come across some common terms.

  • Resource demand. The total sum of resource requirements for your projects.
  • Resource supply. The total sum of resource capacity for your organization.
  • Resource utilization. Often expressed as a percentage and indicates if resources have too much work or too little work allocated.
  • Capacity planning. The process of evaluating available resources against current and future needs. It involves forecasting and planning to ensure optimal resource allocation.
  • Resource planning: Planning and allocating resources to projects to meet the project’s resource needs.
  • Workload balancing. Also called resource leveling. Involves distributing work among team members to ensure an even and manageable distribution of work. Helps prevent burnout and ensures optimal resource utilization.
  • FTE. Full-time equivalent is a measure of how much work one full-time person can provide you in a period. Read more in our post on what is an FTE and how to calculate FTE.

Note: While the terms are used interchangeably, there is a big difference between resource planning and resource capacity planning.

Resource management FAQs

Why is resource management important?

Resources are the lifeblood of any enterprise, and their optimal allocation is essential for maximizing productivity and achieving project and business objectives. While the supply of resources is limited, the demands for their time are potentially unlimited. The challenge is compounded by the fact that resources often constitute the biggest cost overhead. Optimizing resource usage is crucial for project and organizational success.

How do you know you have a resource management problem?

Projects are running late, it’s impossible to forecast resources with any certainty, projects run short of resources, and launching new endeavors feels like a blind leap into the unknown. Sound familiar? These are all problems that suggest poor resource management processes.

How does resource management differ from project management?

There are important differences between project and resource management. While project management focuses on the planning and execution of specific projects, resource management is a broader discipline that involves the strategic allocation and utilization of resources across multiple projects and organizational functions.

Do you need resource management tools?

The answer is it depends. If you have a small number of projects and resources you can set up a basic resource management solution in a spreadsheet. If you’re serious about resource management, you shouldn’t neglect the useful data and features provided by dedicated resource management software. They give you a great competitive advantage and save a lot of your time.

How does resource management work with agile?

It’s a common misconception that agile projects don’t need resource management. Organizations still need to ensure they have enough people with the right skills and work out how best to allocate resources to different initiatives, projects, and product lines. Check out our blog post on agile resource planning if you are ready to do a deep dive into this topic.

With agile resource management:

  • The focus shifts towards products rather than projects, emphasizing continuous delivery and iterative improvements over time. Tools like roadmaps are used to share high-level plans and visions.
  • Teams take precedence as the primary planning unit, encouraging collaboration, cross-functionality, and self-organization to achieve project goals efficiently.
  • Agile forecasting and capacity planning become central, prioritizing adaptability and flexibility over resource utilization, ensuring that teams have the necessary resources to deliver value consistently throughout the project or product lifecycle. Our post on agile resource capacity planning – what it is and how to get started is a great jumping-off point to learn more.

Resource management techniques

In this chapter, we will introduce the four main techniques used in resource management.

Resource management boils down to one thing – making sure you have the right people working on the right projects at the right time. 

It involves the careful planning, allocation, and optimization of resources to achieve your project goals. While it may seem complicated at first, at its heart resource management involves four main techniques.

When you are ready to learn more about how these resource management techniques work together check out how to do resource management – the essential guide.

Resource capacity planning

The starting point for resource management is resource capacity planning. By looking at upcoming projects and current workloads capacity planning helps you forecast if you have enough people with the right skills to meet current and future demand.

Here are some techniques commonly used in resource capacity planning:

  • Demand forecasting. Anticipate future project demands and workload.
  • What if planning. Use what-if planning and analysis to simulate things like new projects, hiring more people, or canceling projects and how the changes will impact your resources and timelines.
  • Capacity analysis. Understanding your team’s capacity over time and if resources or teams are being over-utilized or can take on more work.

Note: Capacity planning is a long-term, strategic view. It looks at the capacity of teams and skills as opposed to individual people. 

What is a resource capacity plan?

Imagine you have a bunch of projects and you need to work out when you can fit them in and if you have enough people with the right skills onboard.

Capacity planning would sum up all the resource requirements for the projects (also known as resource demand) and compare them to the total resource supply. If demand exceeds supply something has to give.

If you have a shortfall you could explore options such as moving work, putting work on hold, or hiring more people until your demand matches your supply.

Using a capacity planner is a great way to review resource workloads and spot teams or skills with shortfalls. You can shift work around, model changes to project timelines and resource capacity, and see the impact in real-time.
resource capacity plan

Resource planning

Resource planning involves distributing and allocating resources to projects in the most efficient way. Another term for this is resource allocation. Resource planning involves selecting the best team members based on the project’s needs and your team’s skills, cost, and availability then allocating them to a project for a period of time.

Tip: It is a fact of life that resources often work on more than one project at the same time. When resource planning you need an accurate view of your resources availability and utilization taking all of their projects and commitments into account.

What does a resource management plan look like?

Once you know what projects you can take on, the next step is to work out who to allocate to the projects and when. This needs to take into account things like availability, skills match, and any other work commitments people have.

This is normally done using a resource or team planner which lets you quickly assign work and monitor resource utilization to keep things on track. 

Important: When resource planning it is essential that you have insight into all work commitments of your resources across all projects so you can get an accurate view of resource utilization.


Resource leveling and smoothing

Resource leveling is a resource management technique used to resolve schedule conflicts and over-allocations. So for example, it could involve shifting work from one team member to another who has spare capacity. Resource leveling aims to avoid any peaks in utilization while still ensuring your projects have sufficient resources allocated.

Tip: Solving resource over allocations is a bit like a game of whac-a-mole. Changes you make to solve over-allocations have knock-on effects for other resources and projects. One of the best ways to manage resource leveling is by using a resource heatmap showing which teams, skills, and people are overutilized.

whac a mole

Resource leveling and smoothing techniques

When resources are only allocated to one project at a time, things are straightforward. The real challenge begins when the same resources are shared across projects. Changes in one place have a knock-on effect somewhere else.

Here are some strategies to adopt to simplify resource leveling and smoothing:

  • Use a tool that includes multi-project planning and scheduling features such as Kelloo.
  • Visual representations like utilization heatmaps make the process easier. You will likely be juggling lots of data so this makes it easy to spot any resource issues or constraints.
  • Avoid using spreadsheets as they create silos of data making balancing workloads almost impossible.
  • Try to avoid micro-managing schedules. Focus on balancing people across projects and major pieces of work and let individual teams worry about the details.
heatmap view

Resource utilization reporting

Resource utilization involves understanding your resource and team capacity over time. There are many ways to calculate resource utilization, but the most common is to compare allocated work to capacity.

  • At an individual level, utilization lets you see if people are being over-used or under-used and make decisions to reallocate work.
  • At an organizational level, trends in resource utilization give insights into whether you have the right mix of people and skills or if you need to hire or retrain.

Resource utilization report example and free template

Building a resource utilization report is pretty straightforward – we even have a handy resource utilization report template you can download for free. The biggest challenge is gathering the data for the report. That is why it is often easier to use a tool that includes both resource planning and utilization reporting in one place.

report builder

Benefits of resource management

Resource management is the linchpin of project and organizational success, optimizing efficiency, controlling costs, and aligning strategies.

The benefits of robust resource management processes extend across various aspects of an organization, contributing to enhanced efficiency, cost control, and overall operational effectiveness. 

Before delving into the specifics of resource management benefits, it’s essential to consider the following statistics.

  • In the recent State of Project Management report, resource management was cited as the third biggest challenge organizations face and yet it can deliver some of the biggest benefits. 
  • In a recent report, PWC found that unsuccessful projects are more
    often linked to internal versus external project factors; bad estimates/missed
    deadlines, scope changes, and insufficient resources.
  • A Prosymmetry survey found that visibility into the availability of resources was the second biggest resource management challenge (41% of respondents).
  • A Resource Management Institute survey found that resource forecasting and capacity planning were the biggest focus areas for respondents.

Resource management benefits


Reduced risk of delays and overruns

Project teams have the right resources available at the right time, minimizing downtime and optimizing productivity. This leads to the timely completion of projects and work.


Improved decision making

Adapt to changes in resource demand, availability, work priorities, or project delays. It ensures flexibility in resource allocation, enabling swift adjustments to align with evolving organizational needs and external factors.


Spot problems earlier

Given the lead time to hire or re-skill resources, early identification of skill gaps or resource constraints gives you time to onboard or train resources.


Happier resources

Recognizing and managing the uneven distribution of work allows for timely adjustments to prevent burnout or delays.


No more over-committing

Resource management gives you clear insight into your organization’s capability to deliver on projects given the resources you have.

For project and resource-based organizations, effective resource management is a game-changer. Ready to learn more about the benefits resource management can deliver?

Resource management best practice

With resource management, the 90:10 rule applies, you get 90% of the benefits of resource management by focusing on easy-to-implement basics.

Having worked with numerous organizations helping them establish and implement resource management processes, we have gained valuable insights into best practices that set apart successful organizations. 

Four key principles consistently emerge as distinguishing factors. These best practices serve as pillars for effective resource management.

  • They don’t overcomplicate things. Simplicity is a key tenet in resource management. Overly complex resource management processes lead to confusion and hinder effective decision-making.
  • They focus on real-time data. Utilizing real-time data insights enables quick adjustments to resource allocation strategies. This empowers organizations to respond promptly to changing project dynamics.
  • They use tools to do the heavy lifting. Resource management tools can supercharge your resource management efforts. You will get real-time visibility into resource availability, enabling teams to make informed decisions promptly. Automation features reduce manual work, improving efficiency and reducing the risk of errors.
  • They centralize data in a common resource management platform. Efficient resource management is impossible if resource data is scattered through different tools and spreadsheets.

Expert insight: Ian Jones – resource management expert @ Kelloo

I would like to mention a couple of additional points regarding the characteristics of organizations with successful resource management processes.

Many organizations concentrate solely on the day-to-day scheduling of individuals and neglect the broader perspective. Resource management involves strategically allocating resources to projects that yield the maximum value.  

Consequently, resource management should always be linked to an organization’s priorities. This ensures resources are directed towards initiatives that align with the organization’s strategic objectives. Here are some strategies you can use to prioritize your projects.

In addition, resource management should extend its focus beyond short-term planning. Considering the time-intensive nature of the hiring process, organizations must anticipate skill gaps well in advance to maintain a proactive approach to resource allocation.

Here is a great resource if you are ready to do a deeper dive into resource management best practices.

Resource management metrics and KPIs

Resource Management Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics are pivotal in gauging the effectiveness of resource allocation and utilization.

Effective resource management involves monitoring and evaluating various metrics and KPIs to ensure optimal use of resources. However, be careful when considering what metrics to track or you end up with metrics overload. If there are too many performance indicators, data points, or metrics being measured, it makes it challenging to derive meaningful insights or take actionable steps.

Resource utilization metric

This metric calculates the percentage of time resources are actively engaged in productive work. It helps assess how efficiently resources are utilized. It can be tracked at individual, role, department, or team level.

High resource utilization indicates optimal use of available resources, while low utilization may suggest inefficiencies or underutilization. Monitoring resource utilization helps identify opportunities for improvement and ensures that resources are deployed efficiently.

Metric Calculation: Resource Utilization = (Actual Hours Worked / Total Available Hours) * 100

Ready to start tracking resource utilization? Download our handy resource utilization report template or take a look at the resource utilization reports and views in Kelloo.

Tip: Be realistic about resource utilization rates – don’t aim for 100%.  Most research suggests aiming for around 70%-80% which leaves headroom for unexpected activities.

Billable utilization metric

Similar to resource utilization, billable utilization tracks what percentage of time is spent on revenue earning or client work. 

Billable utilization helps resource managers understand the financial impact of resource allocation decisions and prioritize work that contributes positively to the bottom line.

Metric Calculation: Resource Utilization = (Actual Hours Worked on billable work / Total Available Hours) * 100

Capacity analysis metric

This metric looks at the skills and capabilities you have onboard and compares them to the needs for your current and upcoming projects. It is typically reviewed at the overall organizational level.

Tracking this metric ensures that an organization has the right amount of resources to meet demand without overloading or underutilizing them. It helps prevent bottlenecks, delays, and resource shortages, contributing to smoother operations and improved performance.

Metric Calculation: Remaining Capacity = Resource Supply – Resource Demand

Ready to start tracking resource capacity? Download our handy resource capacity planning spreadsheet.

Resource management software

Streamline workflows, optimize resource allocation, and propel your organization forward. Harness the power of technology for seamless operations and unparalleled productivity.

Resource management software provides a streamlined solution to optimize resource allocation and planning. By centralizing resource data and project needs, resource management software provides real-time visibility into resource availability, workloads, and project statuses.

Traditionally organizations relied on spreadsheets for resource management. While this approach can work with small teams, as projects scale in size and complexity, it is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and error-prone. The alternative is to use dedicated resource management software.

Our guide to the best resource management software is a good place to start if you are on the hunt for resource management software.

Benefits of resource management software

Resource management software provides a myriad of benefits for organizations seeking to optimize their resource management processes. And the benefits scale up massively as the number of resources and projects increases. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Optimized resource allocation. Precise tracking and analysis of resource availability, ensuring that teams are appropriately allocated to projects based on skills, workload, and project requirements.
  • Transparency. Managers can make informed decisions, avoiding issues such as overallocation or underutilization.
  • Streamlined process. Automation of resource tracking, scheduling, and reporting streamlines manual processes, saving time and reducing the likelihood of errors.

With features such as drag-and-drop resource scheduling, skill tracking, and workload balancing, resource management software empowers teams to operate more cohesively, ensuring that the right resources are assigned to the right tasks at the right time.

Key features of resource management software

Resource management software comes with various features designed to streamline the allocation and utilization of resources within an organization. While specific features can vary between different tools, common key features to look out for include:

  • Resource planning. Allows users to create and manage plans showing who is allocated to which projects. This feature helps ensure that resources are allocated efficiently and avoids conflicts in scheduling.
  • Utilization tracking. Best provided using a visual tool such as a heatmap. This provides real-time visibility into resource availability and workloads.
  • Workload balancing. Helps distribute workloads evenly among team members to prevent burnout and ensure optimal resource utilization.
  • Skill tracking. Enables tracking and management of the skills and expertise of team members. This ensures that resources with the right skills are assigned to tasks or projects that align with their capabilities.
  • Capacity planning. Assists in assessing the organization’s capacity to meet demand by evaluating available resources against overall project resource needs.

Deep Dive

Selecting resource management software involves evaluating the software’s interface, features, and scalability. Consider prioritizing features such as ease of planning, what-if planning, reporting, and tracking capabilities. Also key is integration with other tools. 

Ready to manage your teams and resources better?

Managing teams and resources can be challenging. However, with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be tedious or overwhelming. Resource management software like Kelloo lets you automate the essentials and make informed decisions about your team’s workload. 

With features like capacity management, forecasting, resource planning, and drag-and-drop scheduling, you can easily visualize how you will get your projects done on time and within budget. Say goodbye to tedious spreadsheets and hello to efficient resource management!

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