From financial planning to timekeeping to maintaining employee morale, the list of effective techniques and information on how to succeed with them is always evolving.
Time and resource management are not new concepts. But project managers can learn innovative ways to practice these techniques, and get more from their projects and workers. A combination of time and resource management will help project managers measure:
- The amount of work required vs. available time
- The amount of time used vs. quality of work
Time management and resource management are inextricably linked, given that successful management of both ultimately comes down to your most important resource: your people.
This blog explains the differences and similarities between time management and resource management. For both, we detail some of the best practices and processes to help you gain better control over your projects and achieve better results.
It’s about time, people
Let’s clarify the difference between time and resource management:
- Time management
Time management is the ability to organize the time you spend on activities or tasks in a day. In project management, the practice involves timekeeping and prioritizing work to maximize productivity and efficiency.
- Resource management
According to the APM Body of Knowledge, resource management is the acquisition and use of internal and external resources to deliver a project on time and to budget.
Time and money are what we need most. But while we can get more money, we can’t get more time. There are only so many hours in a day—and even less hours dedicated to projects. Time management is not about working more, but about working more efficiently - structuring your tasks and workers so that you get more done in the same timeframe. Resource management is the framework for you to do that, concerned with sourcing, organizing, and deploying your project resources in the most efficient possible way.
Time management and resource management are both centered around a business’s most important resource: people. If the right amount of people are working on their designated project areas, and they’re working on the right project for their skillsets, they will naturally work more efficiently and create a more productive workforce.
Time management best practices
- Digital timesheets
More accurate and easy to use than physical paper timesheets, digital timesheets can help businesses save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to this study from Harvard Business Review. So, it’s highly valuable to be able to link timesheets with your project tasks: giving you the data to track who is working on what and for how long.
- Time tracking and reporting
Once you have timesheet data, you can then analyze it. Time tracking and reporting helps project managers understand the average time a resource takes to complete a particular task. This information is useful for judging performance and estimating time for future projects, especially for tasks that are similar in nature.
Resource management best practices
- Resource allocation
Resource allocation involves balancing the resources with the various needs and priorities of a project, reassigning them or altering their workload if necessary. Proper resource allocation should determine the course of action that offer the best return on investment possible.
- Resource utilization
While resource allocation is responsible for organizing your project, resource utilization determines how effective it is—assessing the quality and performance of resources. This usually comes down to how productive an individual is during their working hours.
- Resource tracking
Resource tracking involves monitoring the work that individual resources complete over the course of a project. This knowledge can help you gain a more accurate idea of how to allocate resources during the planning stage.
Combining resource utilization with time management
A common formula for measuring and applying resource utilization is full-time equivalent (FTE). This is used to calculate how optimally the available workable hours of a resource are being balanced.
To calculate this, divide the allocated hours a resource will work during a project by the total workable hours available in the project. Multiply the result by 100 to create a percentage, and this score will indicate the effectiveness of the resource.
It’s best to aim for a rate of around 80% – anything above this risks employee burnout, and anything less will not utilize them optimally.
Maximum visibility over time and resources
Many project management tools are designed to facilitate time management, with timesheets, tracking, and reporting software either built in to the tool or available as an extension. The same is true for resource management, but features like resource allocation, utilization, and tracking are often underdeveloped or completely omitted in project management software.
Project managers should look to resource management as a critical component to measuring timeframes of projects and the effectiveness of workers. With a greater understanding, you will be more prepared and better able to deliver projects on time and within budget.