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Resource constraints: how to navigate them and get your warehouse project done

Whether you’re planning a wedding, a construction project, or a warehouse design, you need resources to get the job done. And if there are resources, then, unfortunately, there will be resource constraints too. It’s a given. While our hope is that every project we undertake goes off without a hitch, we all know that rarely happens, and one of the most common problems we encounter is resource constraints. So, let’s uncover common resource constraints, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to tackle them effectively.

1: What are project resources

Let’s start with the basics: Project resources are key elements that impact how your project proceeds. When it comes to warehouse projects, resources include people, equipment, facilities, information, materials, and financial capital. These items fall into three main categories: human, financial, and materials. As you can imagine, they are all vital components that work together to help make your project successful.

People: The people you hire to complete your project will be essential to ensure it gets done properly. People can include a project manager or a larger project team, subject matter experts, stakeholders, and more.

Financial: Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s the only way to pay for resources, and for any big project it is critical. Securing capital before a project starts is vital to keeping a project moving forward. 

Materials: Depending on the project, you’ll need different kinds of equipment. Warehouse projects often require space for the team to meet, storage areas for equipment, software, and even communication tools. Without them, there will be delays, which almost always leads to increased costs.

It’s pretty clear, project resources are the key to moving your project in the right direction. Without sufficient resources, the job will take longer and sometimes may not even complete, depending on what is missing. 

2: What are resource constraints?

Though the answer seems fairly obvious, it’s an important one to highlight. Resource constraints happen when a project doesn’t have enough resources to meet the project’s demands. A project could be limited by a shortage in staff, the lack of particular equipment or materials, or a loss of capital. This results in deficits, limitations, and risks to the project plan.

#3: What is resource allocation?

Resource allocation is the main way you can start identifying any project areas that could be impacted by resource constraints. When allocating resources, you are meticulously outlining all the resources that are needed to complete your project. Resource allocation should happen early on in the project planning process so that you can plan for any constraints. For example, if there is a known shortage of MHE equipment required for your warehouse project, you’ll know from the get-go that you may need to extend your project plan to obtain the resources required. Effective resource allocation requires ongoing monitoring of all needed materials so you can keep up to date and plan around the constraints.

One way to do this is by creating a work breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS forces you to lay out every deliverable needed to complete your project, including all categories: human, material, and financial. This will allow you to see how many people need to be part of the project, what materials are required, and what the average cost of completion is. With a WBS you will know from day 1 what resources need to be gathered, and which have already been assigned. 

In addition, assigning personnel and overall responsibility can be communicated via a RACI chart.  This is a responsibility assignment matrix that shows key personnel and their level of effort and ownership.  In these charts a letter is assigned to a specific person, role, or group with the following designation: R – Responsible, A – Accountable, C – Consulted, or I – Informed. A RACI Chart is an excellent way to keep your work organized while preventing overburdening an employee as the work is evenly distributed. 

Here’s an example RACI Chart from Forbes Advisor:

RACI Chart. Source: Forbes Advisor

#4: How to best navigate resource constraints?

The way in which you deal with a resource constraint will vary largely based on what your project entails. Still, there are some best practices that are fairly universal.

  • Collaborate with your clients
    • Honesty is critical to a project’s success, and that includes letting your clients know both the good and the bad news. Start off by managing expectations from the get-go. If you see that a project may impact customer service, let your client know so you can both be prepared for it. This will also help you have a strategy in place to execute when and if the resource constraints further impact the project.
  • Use resource optimization tools
    • If resources are limited, then you want to make the best out of what you have, this is why resource optimization is vital. With resource optimization, you can develop different ways of doing work that could help you minimize resource constraints.
      • This can be done by deciding which projects are prioritized, and also by assigning specific team members to different tasks so that there is full accountability. Depending on the project, different software solutions can help automate this task.
  • Have a contingency plan
    • During the initial planning phase, be sure to develop a contingency plan that all project team members and stakeholders agree with. This is an essential risk management tactic that involves planning for potential pitfalls down the line. This plan will change based on the resource constraints you’ve identified and are planning for and can include rotating materials, expanding the project team, or cutting costs. 

So what?

In the end, poor planning can lead to resource constraints. In a time where we continue to face supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, you cannot afford to have your projects fail. This is where technology can help, and guidance from an expert too. Depending on your needs, you could implement software that helps with project planning or supplement your team with resources to handle tasks you can’t manage internally. You don’t have to do it alone, reach out to Cornerstone Edge for details on how we can help your next supply chain project be a success. 


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