Project planning and resource planning are closely related. It is therefore not surprising that they are often confused. However, there are important differences and you use different tools for both. That is why in this article we explain the differences and tell you which tools you can use for what.
What is resource planning?
Resource planning is focused on capacity. The number of hours that are scheduled and that you have available. This is therefore an internal planning that takes people as its primary approach.
For good resource planning you need, for example, a digital version of the old-fashioned planning board. One that provides insight into which departments, positions, skills and employees you have at your disposal. If you have this clearly arranged, you can easily deploy the right people on the right projects.
Preferably, with resource planning you also keep track of the actual spent hours. By keeping track of the actual hours you can make a comparison with the scheduled hours. That way you gain insight into how well you schedule and you can see how you can improve. Finally, in the resource planning you not only keep track of hours on projects, but also hours of internal work, holidays and illness, because these hours also determine the availability of your employees.
What is project planning?
Project planning is aimed at the duration in terms of days within a project. For example, for building a new website, this planning visualizes the different phases: first the research phase from 4 to 11 January. Then wireframing from January 11 to 15, front-end development from January 15 to 20, backend development from January 20 – 31 and then testing from February 1 to 7 and then the go-live date on February 8 at 12:00.
You can visualize this in a “Gantt chart”, that shows the duration of all phases below each other. This way you immediately see any overlap of project phases and you can define whether there are dependencies between phases before a phase can start.
In addition to using the project planning internally, you can also use it to communicate project progress with the customer and other external stakeholders.
What do you use when?
It is not about making a choice between resource planning or project planning. Resource planning is always necessary, because without deploying your resources nothing will be done. You can often do without a project schedule for small projects (40 hours / duration of 1 week), because for that it is also a lot of work for the little bit of extra overview you get in return.
However, when you have larger projects for several months with multiple employees and stakeholders, it is essential to create a project planning in addition to your resource planning. This helps you structure, makes the project transparent and clear and gives you a handy tool for communicating with all parties involved: department managers, customers and other stakeholders.