Skip to main content Skip to footer

What is a resource breakdown structure? Guide + template 7 min read
Get started

Resources are the driving force behind every successful project — when resources are allocated accurately, your employees always have what they need to complete the task at hand. As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to anticipate requirements and schedule shared resources in advance. That’s no small job, but to bring order to the process, you can use a tool called a resource breakdown structure.

A resource breakdown structure provides a way to list, organize, and visualize all the resources that go into a project. That way, you can ensure that your team is prepared for the challenge ahead.

Get started

What is a resource breakdown structure?

A resource breakdown structure (RBS) is a tool that lays out the resources needed to complete each task in a project plan or work breakdown structure (WBS). It includes all resource types, including people, time, intangible assets, and tangible assets. Before a project starts, the RBS helps with planning, organizing, and managing resources; when work is underway, it helps you track resource utilization.

Master resource allocation and scheduling for your next project with a resource breakdown structure by

A screenshot illustrating resource management in monday work management.

“Resource breakdown structure” is a part of our Project Management Glossary — check out the full list of terms and definitions!

How resource breakdown structures work

Resource breakdown structures divide a project into smaller tasks. For each task, the RBS lists all the resources an employee or team needs; depending on the project, this might include employees, time, materials, equipment, or technology. If your task is “brainstorming a product tagline,” your resources might include a conference room, white board, and two hours of time from the four-person marketing team.

You can format the RBS as a list, diagram, or spreadsheet, depending on your existing system. Many project managers use a tree diagram to help visualize how available resources will be distributed during the project. For complex projects, consider breaking the resource list into columns to represent different resource types.

When you’re creating the RBS, it’s important to mirror the design and content of your existing work breakdown structure, precedence diagram, or network diagram; project management software can usually handle this task for you. An identical structure ensures that your resource needs are aligned with the project plan, which streamlines the project management process.

How an accurate resource breakdown structure affects project management

For project managers, an accurate resource breakdown structure helps visualize resource requirements at every stage of the project. This is particularly helpful when your project involves resources that are shared between different teams or project tasks. With the RBS, it’s easy to spot potential areas of overlap and adjust accordingly.

An accurate resource breakdown structure can also help project managers:

  • Plan resources accurately: In creating an RBS, you’re forced to examine each task individually; this process eliminates guesswork and ensures accurate resource planning so there are no surprises down the road.
  • Create a budget: When you know what resources are necessary to complete a project, you can create a more accurate budget.
  • Schedule employees: If the RBS includes time estimates for individual employees or teams, it’s easier to coordinate scheduling with managers. That way, you can monitor workloads and ensure that each team member has adequate time for other responsibilities.
  • Identify missing resources: The RBS helps you spot gaps in your company’s available resources. It lets you know in advance if you need to hire another employee, buy more equipment, or stock up on materials.
  • Maintain an efficient workflow: An RBS lays out exactly what resources you need and when you need them; with this information, you can create an efficient allocation schedule that minimizes delays and keeps the project on track.
  • Save money: By enabling resource-sharing across the company, the RBS reduces the need for excess spending.
  • Monitor resource allocation: At any point during a project, you can check the RBS to see where your resources are being used in real-time. If there’s a change to the project schedule, you can shift resources quickly and maintain forward motion.

Resource breakdown structures can also be helpful after projects are complete. Archive them, and over time, you’ll build a set of documents that you can use to analyze performance and predict future resource needs. This information can be helpful as you select projects, make purchasing decisions, and plan for the long term.

A resource breakdown structure can lead to more efficient scheduling, budgeting, and resource management.

Who’s in charge of creating a resource breakdown structure, and when should they do it?

In most companies, the project manager creates a resource breakdown structure early in the project planning process — usually after they’ve made the work breakdown structure. If your company has a large team or a complex resource ecosystem, you may have a dedicated resource manager who can complete the document. Make sure to allow plenty of time; to get the most accurate and comprehensive listing of resources, you’ll need to speak with the managers or employees who are responsible for each task.

Examples of items that may be included in resource breakdown structures

When you’re creating a resource breakdown structure, the items you include depend on the project requirements. In general, resources tend to fall into a few common categories:

  • Human resources: This includes the employees you need for a task. List the person’s name, title, and which part of the task they’re responsible for.
  • Equipment and tools: List the tangible objects that are necessary for completing the project. This might include vehicles, machines, lab equipment, testing gear, and video conferencing systems.
  • Time: Time is usually a secondary resource listing; it’s most informative in combination with another resource, such as human resources or equipment. For example, you might indicate how many hours an employee will spend on a task or how much time you’ll need on a certain piece of machinery.
  • Technology: This type of resource is usually intangible, and includes things like computer programs, internet bandwidth, cloud storage, and software as a service (SaaS) subscriptions.
  • Materials: Some projects require materials such as paper, electronic components, or parts. If you’re making products, you might need raw materials like metal, plastic, oil, or wood.
  • Physical spaces: If you need access to a lab, meeting room, testing facility, or another physical location, add it to the resources list. This can include rentals of off-site locations.
  • Services: Include the services you pay for during a project. Some jobs require outsourcing for tasks like accounting, marketing, or engineering. Other examples include professional photography, animation, fabrication, or cleaning.

A resource breakdown structure can be complicated, especially when you’re dealing with a large-scale project or a resource-heavy task. With the project management tools and templates at, you can stay in control and maintain an adequate level of detail.

Get started

Use’s template to create and manage a resource breakdown structure

With, you can find all the tools you need for efficient resource planning. The Work Breakdown Structure Template makes it easy to divide projects into individual tasks; you can mimic the same layout for your resource breakdown structure.

Alternatively, head straight to the Resource Management Template. If your project features resources that are shared among teams, you can combine the RBS with precedence diagrams or Gantt Charts to see how task timing affects allocation.

Resource Breakdown FAQ

A resource breakdown structure (RBS) is a table, list, or diagram that project managers create to identify the necessary resources for each task in a project plan. The RBS visualizes how resources are allocated across employees and teams at every stage of the project.

To create a resource breakdown structure, follow these steps:

Break the project into small tasks
List the resources you need to finish each task on time
Indicate how long you'll need each resource, if applicable

Project managers use resource breakdown structures (RBS) for budgeting, resource planning, and scheduling. During the project, the RBS can help stakeholders keep tabs on resource utilization across the company and make adjustments in response to changes to the workflow. After work ends, the document is a helpful reference for future resource planning needs.

Using resource breakdown structures in your business

If you’re already using a work breakdown structure or network diagram in your project management workflow, the resource breakdown structure is a natural fit. It takes your planning process to the next level, enabling you to plan, assess, and organize resources in advance to ensure more efficient allocation. With, you can integrate the RBS seamlessly into your existing system.

Get started