How To Create a Resource Plan for Your Project That Drives Results

By: Shubham Gupta on March 31, 2023
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As businesses continue to evolve and grow, so does the complexity of projects. Many business owners and project managers face challenges during resource allocation and planning, including a lack of visibility into resource availability, inaccurate resource forecasting, and over- or under-utilization of available resources. As a result, projects often suffer from scope creep, delays, and budget overruns, leading to dissatisfied stakeholders and missed opportunities.

In fact, 42% of project managers even say that not having enough resources is one of the biggest challenges they face*. If you’re facing the same difficulty, you need to know that creating a comprehensive resource plan is essential for a project’s success as it ensures that your team has adequate resources and expertise to complete the work on time and within budget. 

With insights from Gartner’s Ignition Guide to Resource Capacity Planning for Projects [1], this blog will take you through the process of creating a resource plan in project management that drives results, from defining the resource capacity planning process to assessing gaps in current and forecast resources. But first, let's differentiate between resources and requirements, as many tend to mix them up.

Resources vs. requirements in project management





A resource is any item or entity used to complete a project. This includes people, materials, products, technology, buildings, and equipment.

A requirement is an essential element that must be met for a project to be successful. Requirements can include the project’s objectives, budget, and timeline.

Scope of influence

Resources are used to create a product or deliver a service. They are generally limited to the project itself and do not have a wide-reaching influence.

Requirements are essential in all projects, as they determine the project’s scope and how it will be completed. They affect how resources are used, as they determine what needs to be done and when it should be done by.


Resources can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on their type and availability. For instance, materials may need to be purchased to complete a project, while personnel may need to be hired or trained.

Requirements are generally not associated with a cost, as they are necessary for the project to function properly. However, they can incur costs if they require additional resources or personnel.


Resources can be used to meet deadlines, but they do not dictate the timeline of a project. They are used to help execute the project according to its requirement timeline.

Requirements are essential in determining the timeline of a project, as they dictate when a certain project task should be completed and at what pace the project should progress.


Resources can be changed or replaced without impacting the project’s overall timeline as long as the replacement resource can perform the required tasks.

Requirements are essential in ensuring the project is completed on time and within budget; therefore, they are generally not flexible. Changes to requirements may require additional resources or personnel to meet the timeline.


Resource management software can help you organize and manage your resources.

Requirements management software tracks and manages the timeline, budget, and scope of project requirements.

Create a project resource planning in 5 easy steps

Now that you understand the challenges associated with resource planning and the difference between resources and requirements let’s move on to creating a resource plan and maximizing efficiency.

5 steps to create a feasible project resource plan graphic

Step 1: Define the resource capacity planning process

Set the tone for the project resource management plan by ensuring everyone understands the scope of the task, their roles and responsibilities, required timelines, and expected outcomes. Dig deeper and define any criteria that need to be considered during the planning process. This includes setting up processes for forecasting resource needs, tracking actual resource utilization against estimated needs, and measuring performance to ensure future plans are more accurate.

Get set up for success

What to avoid:

  • Making assumptions

  • Ignoring feedback from stakeholders

  • Being too rigid with the timeline

Tips to remember:

  • Document the decisions and any assumptions made during the resource planning process.

  • Stay flexible and open to change as the project progresses

  • Use employee monitoring software to track employee productivity, attendance, and utilization rates.

Step 2: Map current resource usage for delivery roles

Knowing how resources are currently being used to accurately forecast future project needs is crucial. Outline the critical project and delivery roles needed to ensure successful execution and delivery. Besides, maximize your resources’ efficiency by clearly outlining the high-level roles of each project, creating a standard for resource allocation, and tracking resource usage on both active projects and day-to-day activities.

Get set up for success

What to avoid:

  • Failing to account for existing resources

  • Not incorporating feedback from stakeholders

  • Overlooking the availability of external resources

Tips to remember:

  • Proactively identify any gaps in resource utilization and optimize accordingly

  • Consider outsourcing if you need additional skills or experience

  • Create a central repository where you can track resource usage on an ongoing basis

  • Leverage employee scheduling software to ensure resources are allocated efficiently

Step 3: Gauge gaps in current and forecast resource power

Once you’ve mapped out current resource usage, it’s time to start looking ahead and forecasting future needs and analyzing the gaps. Do this by creating a demand forecast for new and upcoming projects. Then explore surplus areas or potential bottlenecks to ensure the correct balance of supply and demand of resources. This will ensure that no resources are over or underutilized.

Get set up for success

What to avoid:

  • Not accounting for the impact of new projects

  • Overlooking trends and patterns in resource usage

  • Failing to account for seasonal peaks or troughs

Tips to remember:

  • Estimate the total resource capacity needed over a given time period

  • Establish a timeline for when new resources will be needed to meet the demands of upcoming projects.

  • Ensure that your demand forecast of the resources is realistic and achievable

Step 4: Create a plan to address resource capacity gaps

Now it’s time to start developing a plan to address any capacity gaps. This could include hiring new resources, outsourcing certain tasks, or reallocating existing resources. However, ensuring that any plan is cost-effective and aligned with your overall business objectives is critical.

Consider the long-term implications of any resource decisions and ensure that they align with your strategic goals. Also, document any assumptions made during the planning process to ensure transparency and accuracy.

Get set up for success

What to avoid:

  • Failing to consider the long-term implications of resource decisions

  • Not considering alternative solutions or outsourcing options

  • Making decisions without consulting stakeholders

Tips to remember:

  • Find a balance between immediate needs and long-term objectives.

  • Establish a process for reviewing and updating your resource plan over time.

  • Communicate with stakeholders to ensure they’re aware of any changes or new resources being allocated.

  • Use project planning software to plan for capacity gaps by tracking demand and availability.

Step 5: Refine the resource capacity planning process

Now comes the time to refine your resource capacity planning process. Review any changes made since you first created the plan and ensure they’re still effective. Also, take the opportunity to re-assess any assumptions made during the planning process and update them as necessary. You can do this by collecting feedback from stakeholders, keeping an eye on resource trends and patterns, and tracking the effectiveness of the changes.

Get set up for success

What to avoid:

  • Neglecting to review historical data and resource trends that may have changed since the initial plan was made.

  • Forgetting to factor in any changes or improvements that have been implemented since the initial plan was made.

  • Not considering stakeholder feedback and opinions on the plan.

Tips to remember:

  • Assess the effectiveness of any changes that have been made and make sure they’re still effective.

  • Stay abreast of changes in the industry, such as changes in technology or customer expectations.

  • Use project tracking software to track resource trends, patterns, and performance over time and adjust the plan accordingly.

Treat resource planning as a strategic asset to ensure the success of future projects

Effective resource planning helps you answer critical questions—What resources do you need to complete a project? How should resources be allocated? What tasks will consume the most resources and how to ensure their completion?

It is the basis for deciding what resources are needed and how they should be used. Resource planning should be seen as a strategic asset, not just something to be done to keep track of resources. With the right planning and execution, resource planning can lead to greater efficiency, better alignment with business objectives, and improved project outcomes.

Survey methodology

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace 2021 Survey Results

* Software Advice conducted the Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Survey in December 2021 of 528 U.S-based professionals who manage projects at their small to midsize business. Respondents were screened for employment status (full-time), size of business (2 - 500 employees), and involvement in project management (extremely involved).