What Are Resource Constraints? (And How to Manage Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When completing a task, project managers control resources to ensure the success of a project. It's essential for managers to know the constraints or limitations of the resources available for the project to boost the likelihood of its success. Understanding resource limitations in project management and how to control them might help you increase the success rate of your projects and enhance your career growth. In this article, we define resource constraints, illustrate project management constraints, discuss ways to control resource limitations, and highlight some tips to avoid the effect of resource limitations on projects.

What are resource constraints in project management?

Resource constraints are limitations or risks connected to project resources. Knowing these limitations helps you to plan projects accordingly. Resources are inputs necessary to accomplish a project, while resource constraints are hindrances that can interrupt your projects and obstruct effective delivery.

Related: What Is Project Coordination and Why Is It Important?

Types of resource constraints

Here are the most common limitations that can affect the outcome of your project:

Time

Tasks normally have an agreed period or schedule for their completion. It's imperative to define when to begin a project and when you expect to finish it. Completing projects within a set time frame defines their success. To manage this constraint, it's important to create a schedule where you break your project into smaller tasks and allocate completion times to each task, making adjustments as necessary.

Scope

A project scope outlines the goals and deliverables for a task. It refers to the final work that the project team and project owners agree to deliver upon project completion. At the start of the project, managers and other stakeholders plan its scope and determine realistic deliverables. To achieve this, project leaders can prepare a scope statement. This contains the tasks required to accomplish the project effectively while detailing other internal and external variables.

Cost

This is the required sum of money for a project to reach the desired result. Before commencing the project, it's necessary for the project leaders to assess its approximate cost and equate it with the allocated budget. Having an accurate cost approximation can help track spending at every phase of the project and control its progress.

Quality

Quality constraint focuses on the quality of the final product. To determine the excellence of the finished product, you can assess the final characteristics and how closely they match the expectations set at the beginning. To reach the preferred quality, it's essential that employees monitor the processes and make adjustments to enhance project quality. Project leaders can apply quality management processes to help them control costs, create standards, and outline the actions required to attain them. These processes can also help minimize product failure and increase customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction

The main reason for doing projects is to serve the intended purpose and satisfy client needs. It's important for project leaders to appreciate that delivering a task on time and within the stipulated cost and scope doesn't guarantee client satisfaction. Sometimes, when there is no definite customer, you might consider the needs of the key stakeholders. It's also important to question if your undertaking helps the business and the clients attain their goals. The more you consider this question, the better you can provide products or deliverables that satisfy clients and stakeholders.

Resources

Resource constraint assesses the accessibility of both human capital and supplies. This limitation relates to cost, because the amount of money available for the project regulates the availability of supplies and the amount and expertise of human capital that the company can access. Because of dynamic business settings, project managers sometimes supervise teams in different geographical locations or in different departments within an organization.

Related: What Is Resource Management and Why Is It Important?

How do you manage resource constraints?

Here are some guidelines you can follow for your project resource management:

Be strategic

Before starting a task, it's crucial to develop a plan that supports the business strategy. This requires you to understand the job you're going to do and how to accomplish it. It also involves knowing how to define success and measuring it to keep you focused on reaching it.

Understand project necessities

It's necessary to know what the project requires to be successful. Ensure you understand the timelines, objectives, budget, milestones, and major competitors. Listing the requirements is essential for confirming that you have all the parameters that establish the success of your task.

Prepare a contingency plan

You can prepare to handle resource limitations when doing a project, but sometimes resource problems arise unexpectedly. It's helpful to have alternative plans you can apply when such issues occur. To develop these plans, you can analyze the project and identify potential difficulties or use experience from similar projects you've done in the past.

Track time

You can achieve this by monitoring recurring tasks and seeing how long they take. This might help you determine how much time is necessary when the team operates optimally. You can use this data to estimate the time to complete your next similar project, or establish the additional resources you might require to complete it in a shorter period.

Related: What Is Project Management? Definition, Steps, and Skills

Prioritize

There are several ways of classifying your work to decide how to allocate resources to a project. Some factors to remember when prioritizing tasks include urgency, business goals, and opportunities that may arise. You can consider the following elements when creating a prioritization approach for the team:

  • Consider the team strategy: Find out how the requests for prioritization align with the strategy of your team or the business.

  • Urgent vs. important: Differentiate between these two types of tasks to decide which one to prioritize.

  • Relative effort: It's essential to know the effort needed for the tasks you frequently perform to enable you to plan them accordingly.

Make changes

After determining the right way to allocate resources, a company can change its current resource allocation approach. It can then communicate the changes to the team and explain what they can do differently and the reason for the adjustments. The project manager implements the changes and reinforces their importance by recognizing team members who accommodate these modifications.

Apply project management tools

Consider using software that plans and monitors your resources. These tools give real-time data, which helps determine which tasks need resources and assign them. The software also simplifies project supervision and saves time.

Related: Create an Effective Work Plan for a Successful Project (With Template)

How do you avoid resource constraints?

Failing to manage the project within the resource limitations can affect the success of your efforts. Here are the tips to help you avoid these constraints:

Know the constraints

It's crucial for the project team to know the limitations that emerge during project implementation and how to address them. To understand the constraint, it's necessary for the team to determine the sections of the project which the limitation might affect. They can do so by asking questions such as what happened, when did it happen, why did it happen, and by how much. The team leader can then apply tools and procedures to reinstate the project operations. Some of these procedures include performing a risk analysis and contacting the main stakeholders.

Educate the main stakeholders

It's important for other stakeholders, including the financiers and customers, to respect the resource limits that can impact the project's implementation. Apart from understanding what is in the project, it's also important for clients to know what isn't in the project, the quality of the supplies used, and recognize the accessibility of resources. It's helpful to talk with stakeholders and let them know about any project limitations.

For instance, if a client adds an extra feature to the project, it might lead to an increase in the overall cost and completion time. Alternatively, the client can provide more resources, while the project supervisor can change the project scope to ensure its completion is on schedule. It's therefore critical to communicate and manage the expectations of consumers and stakeholders throughout the entire timescale of the project.

See the limitations positively

New project managers might view constraints as hindrances or restrictions to achieving their goals, but it's helpful to consider their positive aspects. It's essential to consider the control measures for each limitation to help reduce threats that resource limits can cause. You can view project constraints as guides and use them to show you the number of resources to allocate for tasks. Over time, you might gain valuable experience accurately estimating resources, leading to efficient project conclusions.

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