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Lack of Resources at Work? Here’s What You Need to Do for Your Projects
A lack of resources in project management doesn’t need to spell disaster. In fact, a key part of a project manager’s role is finding a way to make things work without exceeding the budget with the resources they have available. Resources can be anything from material to equipment to staff power.
Good project managers will be able to navigate through their projects and supply their deliverables on time. They will know how to make the most out of the resources available and get more out of their staff. In this article, we’ll be looking at how to deal with a lack of resources and some tricks for meeting deadlines.
There are many reasons that could cause resources to be stretched and it’s the job of the project manager and their team to figure out the next move. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes for a lack of resources at work.
What Causes A Lack of Resources In Project Management?
If only everything could operate as planned all the time, we’d never have any issues. Unfortunately, that is not the reality that project managers will face. Problems will rear their ugly face as often as they can if you’re not prepared.
The saying “everything that can go wrong will go wrong” is never more true than when you undertake a new project. Lack of resources can sometimes be identified early enough to prevent. However, there will be unexpected events that can derail a project’s progress.
Some of the issues that project managers can expect at work include:
Businesses often have more than one project running at any given time. On occasion, there may be a call to redeploy your resources to another project that needs them more. These decisions can be made by executives and are entirely out of your hands.
When this happens, the project manager will need to assist the company by relinquishing some of its resources to the other project. It could be moving materials, equipment, or staff which can lead to delays in the project.
Team members may have to take unexpected time off such as sickness or personal days. Vacation days on the other hand can be planned ahead of time and shouldn’t affect the overall progress too much. However, when a staff member falls ill or suffers a bereavement they may need to take an undisclosed amount of time off.
The problem can accelerate when multiple team members need to take sick days at the same time. To combat this you may need to hire temporary workers or redistribute staff to make up the workload.
When equipment breaks it can be a major setback for any project no matter the size. For example, if your intranet system breaks and no one can access shared files, a project could be forced to stand still. Some issues are temporary and can be resolved quickly whereas others can be ongoing with a costly fix.
If you’re using expensive equipment that requires a significant portion of the budget and it breaks, the project is in serious jeopardy. An engineer will need to be deployed to fix the issue which is an added expense not budgeted. This stretches the time and cost of the project.
Not all issues will stem from in-house. Supply issues can catch you off guard and there’s not a lot you can do if the other companies in the supply chain aren’t delivering. These issues can stem from a lack of materials at the warehouse, or not enough drivers to deliver the goods.
Despite exchanging contracts and agreeing on a delivery date, things get missed. If the delivery is crucial to project progression it can hold things up. Your team members will have to sit twiddling their thumbs until the goods arrive. As a project manager, you can jump on the phone and try to speed the delivery up but sometimes it’s completely out of your hands.
Sometimes it just boils down to poor planning during the early stages of the project. Blaming the issues on poor planning should not be the last resort. The sooner the issue is identified the quicker problems can be rectified.
This is why a project needs to be properly planned ahead of time with all the relevant documents. A baseline budget is a great document to help anticipate and plan for a lack of resources in project management.
Plan the project thoroughly in the early phases and use these plans to compare actual progress with projected progress. That way projects can be kept on the right track as best as possible.
In many ways, technology has increased productivity across all industries. However, it presents its own challenges that can hold up project development. One such problem is where people aren’t familiar with the technology you want to use and how large the learning curve is for it.
If you’re working with outdated technology such as desktop hardware, your productivity can be affected as things take longer to respond. This eats into the time your team has available to use on actual work.
Software that is no longer supported by the developer can hinder development. If the budget doesn’t allow for new software, staff will have to make do but their progress may be slowed down.
How To Prevent a Lack of Resources At Work
Prevention is the best course of action to deal with a lack of resources. If you can spot potential issues early enough, you can work on a plan to ensure the worst doesn’t come to pass. Of course, it’s not always going to be possible but preventing a lack of resources in project management is a big part of the job.
The easiest way to do this is by developing a method of monitoring the resources as the project is underway. At the start of the project, you should compile documents on resource allocation, budget limitations, and the project schedules. It may be worth splitting the project into phases which can be easier to monitor and control the risks.
Here are some things you should consider doing at the start of the project:
- Understand the deliverables
- Set a deadline
- Define the scope of the project
- Identify any project lags
- Estimating activity levels
- Forecast and estimations based on prior projects
- Develop a baseline budget
- Create a RAID log (risks, actions, issues, decisions)
- Project communication plan
- Use project management software
The more prepared you are at the start of a project the smoother the development will be. When compiling the necessary documents in the early stages you’ll be able to identify potential issues and plan accordingly. Preventing a resource shortage should be a top priority throughout the life cycle of a project and the best way to do that is through monitoring and control.
Using a good project management tool such as Teamly can make all the difference for your projects. We’ve designed it to be the only tool you’ll need for all your project management requirements. It allows you to connect your entire team remotely which gives you more flexibility to finish projects faster than your competition.
By having all your information in one place, you’ll be able to monitor project progression with ease. If there is an opportunity to spot a lack of resources early, software like this can give you a nice head start.
How To Plan Your Resources Efficiently
During the early phases of a project, you can put together a resource plan which documents what’s available to you and how to split it up during the project. This is a document that should be as thorough as possible when you create it. Include details of staffing, materials, equipment, and anything else you deem necessary.
Work out exactly what resources you need to complete the project on time and on budget. You can use previous projects as a benchmark when deciding on what’s needed for the new one. At this point, you’ll be able to anticipate if the budget and resources available are adequate.
Next, you’ll need to understand when each resource will be needed during each phase of the project. You may not need every staff member working on the project at the beginning but as production ramps up, you’ll need to bring more people in. If you can plan this ahead of time, you’ll know the impact the resources will have on project development.
If you’re dealing with limited resources you should figure out how often you’ll need to use them. Break down usage according to days, weeks, and months. If certain things are only needed for a single day in the project, you’ll know the best time to deploy them to keep costs down.
A good project manager will be able to identify what resources can be stretched to fulfill more requirements. Look at the unmoveable aspects of the project such as deadline and budget and work on getting the most out of every resource you have.
What to Do When You Notice A Lack of Resources?
When you first realize that the resources available are dwindling you need to figure out why before anything else. The reason could be obvious such as staff sickness and the fix is obvious as well, such as adding another member to the team temporarily. Other issues may take longer to identify but it’s an important first step to know what to do next.
Small problems that require an easy fix can be remedied by looking at the task list and rearranging priorities if there is any wiggle room. If it’s a major problem then you need to understand what the impact is going to be on the project, including time and cost considerations.
Once you have a clear understanding of the impact, note down if this will affect the scope or quality of the project. Now you’ll need to devise a plan to work around the issues and speak with the other stakeholders in the project. You may be tempted to try and fix the problem alone but involving more people can help address the issues better.
The other stakeholders in the project could include the product owner, executives, the client, and key members of the team. Put your heads together to devise a plan to address the lack of resources at work and how to move forward on time and on budget.
It’s at this point a request can be put into the control board to allocate more resources, whether additional staff or a budget increase. Ultimately, it will be their decision so including them in the discussion at this stage is vital. Avoid putting off the discussion if it becomes apparent more resources are required.
Once the plan is made, you’ll then need to implement and oversee the decisions. Keep a close eye on resource allocation to ensure the new agreements are sufficient to see the project through to completion.
Use the Experience to Plan More Effectively in the Future
Although a lack of resources can be stressful for project managers it can be a great way to learn and level up your abilities. Think about how the lack of resources impacted the project. Did you have to go over budget or ask for a deadline extension?
There will be clear lessons to learn when this happens and you should be open to them. Sit down with the stakeholders at the end of the project to discuss any inefficiencies and what led to the lack of resources at work in the first place.
Take on board any criticism or advice people have and grow from the opportunity. Unfortunately, the possibility of poor resource allocation is a common issue for project managers.
Think about what caused the issues and if there was a chance to spot things earlier. People can learn a lot from adversity and dealing with a lack of resources provides a great opportunity for growth.
There’s nothing a project manager can’t overcome! A lack of resources in project management may seem like an impossible mountain to climb, but if you keep your cool, you’ll get things under control in no time.
It’s not always possible to anticipate problems in project development. Resources can be depleted in an instance if the wrong thing happens. As long as you make a thorough plan at the start of the project and monitor your resources throughout development, you’ll be well-positioned for any changes.
Remember to involve key stakeholders early on when you realize resources are running out. Work together to allocate more resources or figure out how to work with what you’ve got.