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How To Deal With Lack Of Resources On Your Project

How To Deal With Lack Of Resources On Project
How To Deal With Lack Of Resources On Project

Feeling underwater lately? Depending on where you are in your project management lifecycle, you may have, or may be coming up to the situation when you won’t have the necessary resources to complete your project. All project managers will experience the curse of limited resources at some point in their career. The question: How to deal with this issue when it occurs?

There are plenty of good advices on the net to help prospective project managers cope with this scenario, however the seasoned professionals know that some of these advices are nothing but ‘feel good’ assurances that don’t help much at the time of need.

True, as Project Managers you should have a plan on the types of skilled resources necessary to accomplish the planned work. True, you should clearly submit resource requests well ahead and weekly updated management and the sponsor about the upcoming risks associated with the resource scarcity.
But let’s face it, it may be weeks before the requests are fulfilled, or before management recognizes the true impact on the project. By then it would be too late.

So what’s the best course of action? Glad you ask. Here are the top 5 recommendations on how to deal with lack of resources on your project:

  • Do nothing – Yes, do nothing, but only if the lack of resources are impacting tasks not on your critical path. This strategy may seem controversial, but the reality is that non-critical path tasks will not impact your overall schedule (in most cases), so even if they lack resources, you will still complete your project on time and within budget.
  • Sift available resources from less critical tasks to near critical tasks that lack resources, but only if each of these tasks is not on your critical path. This strategy pays off in the long run when near-critical tasks become critical path tasks.
  • Shift all available resources from non-critical path tasks to tasks on your critical path (this is self explanatory)
  • Start a PR campaign in front of your Sponsor’s office and do not leave until you have your resources, only if the impacted tasks are on your critical path. This strategy pays off when your sponsor is in town (if he/she is on vacation, or out of town, you have to get more creative). The goal here is to amplify awareness of the impact on your project. To accomplish this you need to show up every hour at the sponsor’s office with the same message. This will lift eyebrows and spike attention levels and sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling. 
  • Plan for this scenario to occur before your project starts – Allocate sufficient contingency plan to cover the possibility of lack of resources. In doing so, you won’t have to execute any of the strategies mentioned above.

Can you recommend other successful strategies?

Additional resources:


  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    The executives and Renato Luck Oerlikon Solar are the one's limited in brain capacity.

    Renalto's statement is like saying here is a tack hammer, and 10 nails, but an entire house needs to be framed today. Yes, the resouces are lacking and there are no more nails, but the job needs to be completed or you are fired. The house gets framed, but held up with duct tape.

    Three weeks later a strond wind storm comes from out od no where, the framing falls and people are maimed and killed. Renalto and the executives will blame the workers.

    Please Relato and exucitives at your company please move to Antaritca where the rest of the world will be safe. Ohh, here is a fishing pole. That is all we have to give you to survive for a year until someone comes back to pick you up. If you do not survice, all of you are fired.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    This is a ridiculous post.

    Unless you are brand new on the job or naive bordering on ignorant how can you not know that staffing a resource takes time?

    Further-more there is nothing said about the competencies required to just "shift" resources.

    It's blog like these that contribute to the dumbing down of the population and why anyone with half a brain looks like a superstar.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    You really should proof read your online writing, and don't forget to turn on the grammar checking in your word processing program. Quality does count in all project deliverables.

    Resource constraints occur in the majority of projects. The planning is being mismanaged if the resulting quality is compromised. If your sponsors / stakeholders are selling the PM on doing the project with inadequate resources at the kick-off, then recognize the fact that planning or your negotiating skill was deficient.

  • ChristopherMCD 4 years ago

    This is a great article for me, because I am in a situation with a small business where we are trying to make the most of the very limited resources available to us. By forwarding this article to my director, I was able to convince him that my project was critical, and miraculously received not only funding but personnel from a non-critical department. I am new to this field, and these articles are a much needed lifeline.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    One of the suggestion is re-plan based on the available resources.

  • Nilesh 4 years ago

    This situation is normally comes into execution phase. In my practice I do the shuffling of the resources. By using WBS structure finishing the task which can be complete very fast by any of the resources even if the resource is a well experienced or a fresher. Or else assign the resource from another project which is not critical at this time.

  • Amro Elakkad 4 years ago

    The article is nice, but there are other ways to deal with lack of your resources on your project. Here are few suggestions that I have implemented over the years:

    1. Make sure your sponsor and executive committee know the situation as early as possible. There are two advantages of doing so. First, they will be prepared that this might mean that the project won't be delivered as early as they might think. And second, they might actually go out of their way to make sure they get you the resources you need.

    2. Communicate early on the impact of being short on resources. It is critical that you come up with a realistic schedule based on what you actually have and communicate that to all of your stakeholders.

    3. Do double spotting. What that means is that for every critical task, team up people. For every critical task have two resources working on it, one primary and one secondary. This way you are training your secondary resources so that if the primary resource go away for any reason (holiday, vacation, emergencies, etc.), then your secondary resources can pick up the task.

    4. Do proper resource allocation and load balance. More than any other situation, you need to be able to tell at any point in time, how much are your resources loaded (or more likely, over loaded). This information would be critical to be communicated to the resources functional managers (if you are in a matrix organization), so that they can give them a slack on their BAU/operational tasks, in favor of their project tasks.

    5. Do a proper risk management planning. Your stakeholders need to realize the risk of the shortage of resources and understand the mitigation plan around that risk. They will need to participate in the initial risk management identification sessions if possible to get a first hand feeling for the situation.

    6. Keep communicating. On all of your status reports, keep reminding people of the resources shortage issue and its impact on your schedule.

    Hope this helps.

  • It is good to demand quality but it is bad to demand slavery 4 years ago

    Where I work I have to be involved as a Project Leader, developer, analyst, applications support, server administrator.

    I do everything related to the development of the project and the administration after it, thanks to the echonomic crisis. It started by them limiting my resources before getting this far. And the company is at really good numbers.

    Basicly I have to function as a whole team and my superiors won't listen nor they want to. What I do is enough to be considered as a good complaint in this times. I have to work the whole year and my income is ridiculous low. I only stay because it is good to feel this kind of pressure but I have no life at all, working 70 hours a week.

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