Resource Management Plan: Guide to Best Practices

Lucija Bakić

March 27, 2024

A screenshot of a resource management plan software displaying tasks categorized under 'Planning' and 'Design', with various statuses like 'Doing' and 'To do', assigned to team members with priorities ranging from 'High' to 'Mid'.

Creating a resource management plan can take your agency’s efficiency to the next level.

However, managing your resources can be complex if you don’t know where to start. Resource managers must identify availability, spot potential resource gaps, correctly forecast demand, and balance resources accordingly. Now picture doing this across multiple projects.

In this article, we’ll explain this process with a step-by-step guide and top tips and tricks for effective resource planning.

What Is a Resource Management Plan?

The resource management plan can be described as a comprehensive document that contains information on your employees, their schedules, and project timelines. It also usually provides project financial information, such as your budget status and profitability.

A screenshot of a digital calendar from resource management software, showing task allocations and personal time off for team members across multiple weeks.

Get complete visibility with Productive’s resource plan

Project management for agencies can be challenging, as it involves collaboration between cross-functional teams and balancing agency capabilities with client needs and requirements. In fact, according to research by PMI, 37% of strategic initiatives fail because of a lack of clearly defined processes to manage progress.

The ultimate purpose of the resource management plan is to provide you with this crucial oversight, so you can ensure timely adjustments and reallocation if necessary.

Critical Aspects of Resource Management Planning

What should your resource plan tell you about your project and agency resources?

  • Your crucial employee information, such as working hours, cost rates, and holidays.
  • The timeline of your projects and which teams and employees are assigned to them.
  • The amount of time you’ve already scheduled vs the remaining hours for allocation.
  • Key employee metrics, such as their utilization rate, to help balance workloads.
  • Project budget information, including your budget burn, profitability, and revenue.

Benefits of Resource Management Plans for Project Management

In the 2023 Agency Insights Report by Vendasta Agency, agency professionals named the following as their top pain points:

  • Maintaining project profitability and margins
  • Managing team workload and ensuring proper utilization of resources
  • Balancing multiple projects and deadlines
  • Dealing with project scope creep and change requests

An effective resource management plan can help address all of the above and more, such as:

Handling Project Risk

Effective resource management improves an agency’s ability to identify and mitigate risks. By ensuring optimal resource allocation and creating contingencies, companies can avoid project delays, cost overruns, and overutilizing staff, leading to more predictable and successful project outcomes.

Reliable Needs Forecasting

Reliable needs forecasting enables agencies to anticipate resource requirements accurately and prevent resource shortages before they happen. As a proactive approach, it guarantees that projects are adequately staffed and allows for better strategic planning and enhanced budget control.

A screenshot of a resource management plan software showcasing 'New budgets insights' with options to group by company, displaying a bar graph with revenue and margin data for projects such as ABC Company, Cupcake Project, and Website Redesign.

Get full control over your budgets with Productive’s powerful reporting

Balanced Employee Workloads

Balancing employee workloads through effective resource management prevents burnout and underutilization. By evenly distributing responsibilities, employees experience less stress, one of the leading causes of voluntary turnover. This approach to allocation can also increase engagement and productivity, as team members feel adequately challenged and utilized.

Creating Your Resource Management Plan

The specific process of putting together a resource management plan template can differ significantly depending on what type of software you’re using.

Research by The Wow Company states that agencies that use spreadsheets to manage projects have an average rate of 66% utilization for non-director roles. When switching to software, the utilization rate increases by almost 10%.

A screenshot of a resource management plan software showing a summary of billable and worked hours by department and individuals, with percentage indicators of billable versus total hours worked.

Visualize and forecast utilization across various metrics with Productive

How does your resource planning benefit from switching from spreadsheet to software?

  • Lowering the margin for error: Spreadsheets are prone to errors, and this is especially true for dynamic processes such as resource management.
  • Freeing up time for crucial tasks: Not only are your plans more reliable with software, but automating processes helps employees focus on strategic tasks, which can help deliver projects more successfully.
  • Providing a higher level of visibility: Another great part of comprehensive resource management solutions is that they contain all your key information in one place. This simplifies progress monitoring and supports communication.

In the next section, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide for effective management plans with Productive, the all-in-one tool for agency management.

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How to Create a Plan? Resource Management Plan Example

Creating a project management plan is similar to the overarching resource management planning process. It includes having a clear picture of your current resources or the resource identification process. For agencies, these are human resources (check out our strategies on human resource planning) and financial resources.

For human resources, you want to know who will be working on the project and for how many hours. For financial resources, you’ll need to define what the project needs to look like to be a success not only for the client but also for your agency.

In short, you’ll need to align your agency’s goals with the project goals.

We ended up terminating contracts with two of our oldest clients after only a few months of using Productive. We thought that we were at least at zero with them, or that we had some small earnings, but it turned out that we were losing money because the money they paid us did not cover salaries, fixed overhead per hour, and variable overhead per hour.

Ilija Brajković,
CEO at Kontra Agency

Then, you’ll need to be able to visualize and organize these various types of resources, manage potential disruptions, and track performance.

1. Visualizing Resources and Their Availability

Productive simplifies the creation of bookings by helping you access key employee data in one place. This includes information on who your employees are, their availability, and their cost rates.

When creating a resource booking, you’ll be able to review this information, including the overall amount of hours already scheduled across the services you’re providing (such as design, development, or marketing).

A screenshot of a resource management plan software displaying details of 'Pink Flamingos Rebranding & Website' project, including total time booked, daily allocation, date range, a task for SEO optimization, and an option to view the full report.

Access crucial data for effective resourcing in one place

Time off management is a key part of availability — your employees can request leave on the platform and have it appear in the resource plan when approved. Additionally, a project manager can input it directly as a booking. Specific time off categories can be added to the platform and allocated to individuals.

A screenshot of a resource management plan software interface for requesting time off, showing a calendar view with selected vacation dates in December 2024 and a summary of available days.

Eliminate the need for multiple tools with Productive’s time off management

Another great feature for easier visualizations are heatmaps or capacity indicators. These are color-coded representations of resource availability, which helps balance your employee workloads.

2. Handling Project Disruptions

Project disruptions can be internal or external. It can include everything from an employee going on sudden sick leave, or clients requesting additions to the project scope. Handling both of these types of situations and more is a critical step in resource management for client projects.

How can you support your monitoring and adjustment mechanisms?

Investing in a resource management tool can be an answer in of itself. For example, when reallocating employees or shifting deadlines, instead of manually moving all task dependencies, your tool can do this for you automatically. As an example, Productive also lets you edit multiple bookings at the same time, or set repeated bookings for project team members with consistent schedules.

Another key factor in controlling risk is having effective communication. The benefits of using a single platform for your resourcing is that all of your key data is easily accessible.

This is a person, this is how much that person makes, this is our overhead, this is how much we’re charging our client. The tool gives us full transparency, across the board. From our standpoint, Productive erases the seed of doubt.

Michelle Pittell,
Co-President at Brand Labs

With the new Permission Builder feature by Productive, you can control who can see and do what on the platform. This helps you promote transparency while still safeguarding sensitive information.

3. Tracking Key Capacity Metrics

Another essential part of managing resource planning challenges is being able to view the impact certain changes have on your key capacity metrics. According to research by SoDa & Productive:

More than half of agencies don’t have integrated platforms that enable any kind of real-time or detailed analysis of business health. Very few leverage metrics that can provide a more granular, forward-looking view of performance.

Source: 2022 Global Agency Landscape Report

With Productive, you can schedule resources and then check the impact this has on your:

  • Budget burn
  • Revenue
  • Profit margins

When you reallocate your employees, add or remove bookings, this is automatically reflected in your data. This can help you monitor your project performance more closely and make more informed decisions on the changes you can make while still keeping your project profitable.

A screenshot of a resource management plan software showing a 'Rebranding Campaign' dashboard with a budget and hours tracking graph, alongside detailed breakdowns of time, budget, and invoicing metrics, indicating progress and remaining resources.

Real-time data ensures that you’re making the right decisions for your agency

Another essential metric tracked by Productive is your agency’s utilization rate, or the ratio of billable hours worked vs. available working hours. You can use this data to determine the efficiency of various departments or employees and pinpoint potential problems. Additionally, you can forecast utilization to guide strategic decisions, such as hiring or reskilling.


Utilization and Forecasting in Crisis Times

Find out more about leading your agency through uncertain times by getting the most out of your data with Productive and The Agency Collective.

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Resource Management Plan Sample

If you want a first-hand look at a resource plan created for client projects, check out the live demo for Productive’s resource planning module. Here you can check everything from how to create a booking and manage time off requests to budgeting insights and various other key resourcing reports.

Overview of Resource Planning Techniques

Here’s a quick run-down of commonly used resource management techniques. Understanding these terms can help guide your approach to planning:

  • Resource Leveling: Adjusting the schedule to even out resource utilization and workloads over time, often by delaying tasks to manage availability.
  • Resource Smoothing: Another technique used to distribute resource assignments evenly but focused on minimizing disruptions to the project timeline.
  • Gap Analysis: A process for identifying areas for improvement and creating strategies to cross the gap between actual and desired performance.
  • Resource Forecasting: Predicting future resource needs for a current or future project, including which resources are needed, how many, and when.

The Role of Resource Management Tools

Resource management tools provide a centralized platform for tracking and managing resources across projects. They facilitate real-time visibility into availability, utilization, and finances, enabling managers to make informed decisions.

  • Manage employee time
  • Organize tasks with layouts such as Gantt, Kanban, and more
  • Handle client invoicing and external expenses
  • Streamline project documentation with real-time collaboration and AI
  • And much more

Book a demo today to discover how Productive can help you optimize your strategic planning and day-to-day operations.

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Lucija Bakić

Content Specialist

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