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What exactly is a resource in project management? Basically, it’s any kind of asset that helps complete a task.

Resources are important to project managers—without them, you would run the risk of having insufficient labor, equipment and materials, money, services, space, and/or time to complete your project. This might lead to cost overruns, missed dependencies or schedule delays, and potentially project failure.

There are a number of helpful resource management software platforms available to help streamline the resource management process and monitor resource utilization.

What Is A Resource?

In project management, a resource is defined as anything needed to complete a project successfully. This includes raw materials, operational supplies, funding, personnel, technology, and any other items or services required during the course of project execution. 

Resources can be project specific, or they can be used across multiple projects. It’s important to accurately assess the resources necessary for the successful completion of a project plan and deliverables before work begins. That way, you can budget appropriately and make sure you are staffed with the project team members, equipment, etc. needed to execute the work.

Author's Tip

Even for a relatively small project, this can get complicated quickly.

For example, if you’re planning to launch a website, you’ll need to consider who will work on the engagement with what skill sets, whether personnel are in-house or contractors, licensing costs for any required tools, any needed hardware (such as testing devices), and where the work will take place, in the context of available budget and project milestones.

6 Types Of Resources In Digital Project Management

Project resources can be material, financial, or personnel-related. Types of resources include:

the six types of resources in digital project management
Here's the six types of resources you're most likely to work with on your digital projects.
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1. Labor

Labor covers personnel needed to complete a project. Personnel types can include employees of the business or external contractors hired for certain tasks or functions (see Services for more information on engaging with outside entities).

Project managers should work with stakeholders to determine how many human resources at what percentage of time and with what competencies are needed to complete project tasks. Note: not everyone involved in the project will be needed for each and every task.

After evaluating the project scope and level of effort, the project manager sets about planning resources based on project milestones and resource availability. Keeping track of available resources helps prevent overallocation and burnout.

2. Equipment and Materials

Equipment and materials cover a wide range of supplies needed for the project. These are resources that are expended during the completion of a project. 

For digital projects, this might include hardware, such as computers or servers, or office supplies. In construction, this might range from manufacturing equipment to raw materials needed for a manufacturing process to vehicles—anything needed to execute the job. 

The same equipment can be used across multiple different projects in a portfolio; however, as the number of projects grows, so will the need for equipment.

3. Money

Any project manager knows that project budgets are essential. That’s because financial resources are required for acquiring other types of project resources. To regulate project costs and achieve your organization’s stated profitability targets, managing to your stated budget is essential for project success.

4. Space

Space refers to physical locations rented out or used at a team’s discretion; this may include office premises shared with a previous tenant or any site specific to the requirements of a given job. Space needs should be mapped out across project phases and should usually be allocated well in advance due to their relative scarcity.

5. Services

Outside vendors are a resource for many projects. If a company does not already have the requisite staff to deliver services agreed upon as part of the project scope, then going to a third party for that service may be necessary.

Vendors are outside entities that provide goods or services used in the project (read about vendor management here). Examples might include an IT professional or graphic designer. For digital projects, services may also encompass licensing costs for software tools, server fees, or legal assistance for jobs in which major liability is involved.

6. Time

The amount of time you have to complete a project will determine the operating procedures you follow to manage that project. Understanding that time may be limited when problems arise is key to being agile and keeping the project on schedule.

What Is Resource Management?

Project resource management is the process of acquiring, using, and monitoring the resources needed to complete any given project from beginning to end.

Here’s a summary of the process: 

  • During resource planning, developing a resource management plan and sticking to it helps set resource managers up for success. Project managers can use resource forecasting to keep current and future projects up-to-date.
  • During the execution and monitoring phases of the project life cycle, tools like Gantt charts, work breakdown structures, and other data visualizations can keep you apprised of resource availability and measure project progress against milestones and objectives.
  • You can also use resource management techniques, such as resource leveling, to build out an efficient schedule.
  • Smart resource allocation helps ensure that project requirements are met on time and on budget while also making sure the right resources are available whenever they may be needed.

Why Are Resources Important In Project Management?

Without sufficient resources, it can be difficult for a project manager to complete project objectives within the scheduled project timeline. Allocating resources inappropriately when developing the project schedule can lead to delays, shortages, or even worse, failed projects.

Depending on the type of project you’re managing, different types of resources may be necessary. For example, some projects, such as those in the construction industry, may have more detailed equipment or materials needs than others. Each of the different types of resources has its respective role to play in ensuring a successful project outcome.

Read more about why effective resource management is important in project management here.

What's Next?

Start tracking your resources using project management software, resource scheduling software, or other resource management tools.

By Sarah M. Hoban

Sarah is a project manager and strategy consultant with 15 years of experience leading cross-functional teams to execute complex multi-million dollar projects. She excels at diagnosing, prioritizing, and solving organizational challenges and cultivating strong relationships to improve how teams do business. Sarah is passionate about productivity, leadership, building community, and her home state of New Jersey.