When you get a new client, there are a few steps you need to take before a project begins.
First, you need to define the project itself to figure out what the client wants and needs, and if
When it comes to managing resources for various client projects, you find the most success when you have a skilled project manager with the ability to plan ahead well. No matter what vertical your professional service business is in, the job isn’t easy.
Managing resources involves anything that’s needed to bring the project to completion. That includes money, time, materials, and people. A skilled project manager should be able to look at a project and allocate the appropriate resources towards it.
In this section, you’ll learn why resource planning is important, and how to build a resource plan.
Why is resource planning important?
No business has unlimited resources. Not even the big Silicon Valley companies. So it’s no wonder that planning what you have to work with is important, but why? What are the consequences if you don’t do it well?
- Money. If you don’t properly allocate the financial aspects of a project, you risk either running out of your budget before the project finishes or wasting money where you’ve overspent and could’ve found alternatives. Neither of which would make a client happy.
- Time. Time is a resource no one can control — it ticks on regardless of what you want it to do. Running out of time on a project is a common mistake, and it never looks good having to ask your client for more time to complete it. The client may even look elsewhere to finish it off.
- Materials. The material resources you need will depend on what type of professional service you run. For example, if you run a business consulting service, you’ll likely need a car and various suits. For most digital services, you’ll need computers. If you don’t allocate your physical resources properly, you or your employees won’t be able to do their jobs.
- People. According to research from Indeed, before Covid-19 43% of U.S survey respondents said they experienced workplace burnout. In 2021, that figure rose to 52%. Poor people planning in projects is a cause of employee burnout — not allocating people with the right skills, or putting too much workload on fewer people will likely result in bad project execution.
Those are just some of the more common consequences of bad resource management. So making sure your resource planning is on point is important for avoiding these situations.
How to build a resource plan
If your business is just starting, or you can’t afford to hire a dedicated project manager yet, you’ll need to figure out how to plan resources yourself (or among your team).
To do this, you’ll need to build a resource plan for each client project you take on. A good portion of the information you need comes in the project scope and contract, but in all, project resource plans typically contain the following information:
- Overall budget
- Due dates or milestones
- KPIs (where the goals are stored and the method of measurement)
- Team roles and assignments
- Contact(s) information
- Outsourcing contracts (e.g. freelancers or vendors)
- A list of materials and costs
- Contingency plans or risk analyses
Whatever kind of resource you think you might need, include it in the plan. It’s better to have more than enough information than too little. At this point, you might feel overwhelmed or unsure of where to start, so here’s a little step-by-step tutorial to help you put together a resource plan.
Step 1: Get your project scope and contract.
The easiest place to start is with the external information — what your client wants from you. In this case, you’ll likely have a project scope document that describes at least four information points above: budget, due dates, KPIs, and contact details.
Make a note of those details in either a word-processing document, a spreadsheet, or a software tool like Cloud Coach for resource managers.
Step 2: List internal resource needs.
With the basic external resources noted, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of internal resources you have that will help the client project best. Make a list of the people, materials, and time you’ll need for the project to be completed or managed on an ongoing basis.
Step 3: Match up internal resources to the needs list.
Once you’re aware of exactly what you need, you’ll be able to match up what you have (or what you need to get) to those needs.
For example, clients you have can primarily be French or Spanish-speaking, it would be a good idea to find out if any of your employees have these language proficiencies. Side note: skills and languages filters are a resource management feature on Cloud Coach.
Step 4: Make a list of what you need but don’t have, and allocate the budget.
After matching up what internal resources you have, you can sometimes end up with missing skills or materials. In this case, you’ll need to use your budget allocation to finance existing resources, as well as to procure the resources you don’t yet have.
In this case, you might consider outsourcing a freelancer to fill the skills gap or ordering new equipment/materials.
The other alternative if you don’t have the resources you need at your disposal is to discuss this with your client to see if you can alter the project scope.
Step 5: Detail backup plans.
Sometimes resources fall through or change — the employee(s) you had in mind for a project becomes unwell before or during the project, or the due date shifts. To help mitigate these kinds of risks, you’ll need to have a backup plan in place.
Backup plans will be unique to each project and client, but the basic premise is ensuring you have contingency resources on-call to help complete a project.
Step 6: Have a team meeting.
Once you’ve completed all the previous steps and put the information in your format of choice, you’ll need to get everyone else involved on the same page.
Communication is key to a successful project. Having a meeting to discuss the plan you’ve drafted up gives you and your team to make any amendments before the project moves forward.
Those are the practical steps of putting together a resource plan for your client project. Of course, you’ll also need to right tools to enable you and your team to build and execute your plans.
While you can do everything in this section manually, with Cloud Coach, you have an all-in-one solution to help you see and allocate project resources from start to finish.