What is resource management?

Ultimate Guide to Resource Management

Do you feel that resource management is too hard to do, unimportant or not worth the effort?


Here are some home truths:

  1. Resource management can be a tricky puzzle to crack but that is no reason to ignore it. Start with the basics and build your capability over time. 
  2. Resources are the largest cost in most project driven organizations so even small improvements in resource allocation and usage will have significant benefits.
  3. It is a common misconception that organizations who run agile development don’t need to do resource management. They do but the focus shifts.
  4. A small investment in resource management tools can make the resource management process a lot less painful.

This guide explains everything you need to know about resource management. 

Whether you are new to resource management or want to refresh your skills, there is something for everyone in this guide.

What is resource management?

Resource management is how you acquire, organize and allocate your resources so you can successfully deliver your projects.

This guide explores resource management topics such as how to do resource management, the benefits of resource management and how to choose resource management software.

It also explore ways to combine agile and portfolio management techniques with resource management.

Why is resource management important?

All organizations are resource constrained – meaning they have a limited supply of resources to use on projects.

So to be successful, you need to ensure you are making the best use of your resources.

This means taking steps to ensure:

  • Organizational priorities drive which projects you choose to do.
  • Your resources are working on the right projects.
  • Resources neither have too much or too little work to do.
  • You have the right mix of skills across your teams.
  • You understand the headcount you need over the coming months.

You can learn more about the benefits of resource management in chapter 5.

Who should do resource management?

Most organizations need to do resource management. What changes is the level of rigor and detail involved.

Smaller organizations with a handful of resources might be able to handle resource management using an informal process.

However, as resource headcount increases and the number of projects grows the resource management puzzle becomes increasingly complex.

And things don’t need to grow that much before resource management becomes an essential part of the organizations toolkit.

Should you do resource management?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions you likely need a robust resource management process.

  • You run multiple projects at the same time.
  • You share resources across projects.
  • Your resources work on both projects and normal business activities (BAU).
  • Resources make up a large part of your project costs.
  • You often commit to projects that you do not have the resource for.
  • Projects often run late due to resource constraints.

Take our resource management health check and see how you rank with your resource management.

Resource management in an agile environment

Many proponents of agile argue that resource management is no longer necessary in an agile environment. However, this is too simplistic a view.

Agile teams rarely work in isolation and often work on projects alongside non agile teams.

Organizations still need to forecast what resources they need to recruit and make commitments to what projects they can deliver.

With agile resource management the focus shifts.

  • The capability of teams become the focus rather than individual resources.
  • Focus on resource capacity rather than utilization.
  • Assign teams to projects not resources.
  • Restrict the number of projects being executed at one time by prioritizing and queuing projects.

Resource management in an agile environment is in many ways easier, but no less important.

Chapter 8 explores how to do agile resource management and ensure you get the benefits of agile while still delivering on the wider resource management needs of the organization.

What are the benefits of resource management?

Effective resource management brings immense benefits to the organization, the projects it runs and its resources. Chapter 5 of our guide takes a deeper dive into the benefits of resource management.


  • Provides transparency so that everyone understands the capacity of the organization to deliver work.
  • Gives visibility into what the resource pool size and skills mix needs to be given the projects you want to deliver.


  • Improved project delivery by ensuring you have enough resources for the projects you are working on.
  • Gives a mechanism to understand and manage the impact of project delays on resources and other projects.


  • Prevents resource burnout by avoiding over allocation.
  • Stops resources becoming roadblocks where they are the only people with key skills.
Project failure due to resource management


Project management vs. resource management

Although different disciplines, project management and resource management are highly dependent.

While most organizations have reached a reasonable level of maturity in project management, many organizations struggle with resource management.

And the brunt of this failure is felt by the project managers.

Project managers run projects. They ensure that people know day to day what they are meant to be doing to help the project on its journey.

So this involves low level scheduling of work, managing risks, managing costs etc.

Resource managers do resource management. Their focus is people. And their responsibility is to ensure the organization has enough resources with the correct skills to work on projects it wants to run.

Project managers are highly reliant on resource managers and good resource management is a prerequisite for running successful projects.

Most organizations prioritize implementing project planning and management over resource management.

They do this because resource management is often the harder puzzle to solve.

Chapter 6 explores the relationship between project management and resource management in greater depth.

Resource management and portfolio management

As mentioned earlier, all organizations are resource constrained.

So when it comes to running projects, they can only do so much with the resources they have.

Which means they only have so many levers they can pull to ensure they meet their organizational goals:

Project levers

  • Which projects they select to execute.
  • The timing of their projects.

Resource levers

  • Their resource levels.
  • Resource skills mix.
  • How they choose to allocate their resources.

Resource management is an integral part of the portfolio management process. It helps organizations make decisions about what they can achieve with the resources they have.

Sometimes this may mean delaying projects, cancelling projects or re-deploying resources to higher priority projects. 

Chapter 7 explores how resource management and portfolio management work hand in hand to ensure organizations maximize the value of their resources.