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Resource calendars and their use in planning and tracking 8 min read
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Thousands of years ago, humans invented calendars to measure the passage of days, months, and seasons. This ingenuity allowed them, for the first time, to harvest, plant, and store resources according to the most suitable times for each activity. They could finally create a plan. These days, we have smartphones instead of stone tablets, but calendars still run the show, especially when it comes to project management. Whether you’re sowing crops or developing an app, success requires thoughtful scheduling and allocation of resources across a definitive timetable.

This is where a resource calendar enters the project management saga. Explaining how they are useful and how to use them effectively is the purpose of this guide. While we’re at it, we’ll also see how can help you manage projects and create your own modern resource calendars.

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What is a resource calendar and what does it look like?

Before digging into the concept of resource calendars, it’s worth looking at the definition of human resources in project management. A resource refers to an asset required to complete a project. Time, money, tools, and even physical workspaces are all resources, but the most valuable among them are people.

Unlike tools and workspaces, people go on vacations or maternity leave or need a sick day. On top of this, most tasks require specific skill sets. When it comes to resource scheduling, people are challenging. That’s why a talented project manager takes all of these variables into account and creates a resource calendar that balances individual timelines with the tasks and activities needed to keep the project on track. This calendar visualizes who is working on a task, what skills they’re using when they’re working on it, and what other resources are occupied during work.

But why not just use a single calendar for the entire project? With access to high-quality project management software, do we really need two different calendars for a single project?

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

What is the purpose of a resource calendar?

First, you need to understand that management calendars represent project life cycles based on the time constraint established to complete the project. It helps teams keep track of deadlines and milestones and monitor overall progress. It also includes company working days and hours and national holidays that you’ll need to take into account.

The purpose of a resource calendar is to schedule, manage, and allocate the necessary resources to meet the deadlines and milestones outlined in a project calendar.

By definition, resources are variable and sometimes difficult to predict. A key team member could transfer to another project, for example. Or a mission-critical system could break down, bringing all work to a halt. With a solid resource management strategy, however, project managers can reassign resources to keep things on track.

How resource calendars keep projects on track

Resource calendars can also help identify opportunities for improvement. For example, a project manager might notice that one team member is breezing through their activities while another is struggling and falling behind. It’s possible that the former team member’s skills are underutilized and the latter team member is overstressed. Reassigning tasks to the appropriate resources can even out the discrepancies.

On longer projects, it’s not uncommon for team members to take vacations. But when the beach-bound vacationer is in a senior position with specialized knowledge and seen as indispensable, their absence can instill panic. However, when you know their schedule in advance, you can steady the project by having a junior colleague learn enough from the expert beforehand to keep things maintained. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to develop team leaders.

What’s included in a resource calendar

You can think of a resource calendar as a school planner database hybrid for managing your team. The most important resource you add to it is the information you get from the team members for your project. As such, you’ll want to take your time in getting to know them and try to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a rundown of the basics you’ll want to collect on each team member:

  • Team member information: In addition to contact information, you should include a profile of each team member that describes their skills, talents, and experience.
  • Schedules: You need to identify gaps that may arise throughout the project lifecycle. This is where you will identify vacation periods, planned trips, or other leaves of absence.
  • Equipment and tools: Next, you’ll establish the equipment your team needs to complete their tasks, including hardware, software, and any other materials.
  • Workloads: Once you get to know your project team, you can start project scheduling and assigning appropriate workloads based on their abilities and skills.

Beyond getting to know your new project partners, you’ll need to thoroughly document their schedules. Some businesses have teams dedicated entirely to a project while others still have other responsibilities. As a project manager, you need to know the kind of team members you’re working with and how much of their time you have for your project. And you’ll need to know these details early in the project planning phase.

When should you create a resource calendar?

Along with a project calendar, you should create a resource calendar in the early stages of planning. And while resource calendars are dynamic and change considerably over the course of a project, it’s best to have a solid team established before the project kicks off. The more you get to know your team members beforehand, the more adept you’ll assign tasks according to their skills, capabilities, and ability to handle workloads. In other words, if you’re in the planning stages of a project, the best time to create a resource calendar is now.

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Creating a resource calendar with

Whether you’re heading up a scrappy startup or leading a small project team at your job, has the perfect tools to hit the ground running on whatever project you want to throw at it. With highly customizable templates numbering in the hundreds, you can build your new resource calendar in a few clicks.

Of course, every project needs tools to manage timetables, scheduling, and budgets, so you’ll also want to add this Single Project Template to your new workspace. Because is data first, your team members share all the files, tasks, and tools you add to both templates. And with built-in automation, your projects move smoothly along as tasks are completed and the next team member is automatically notified. In addition, everyone can design their own workflow without affecting any of the project’s valuable data.

In addition to our growing list of Work OS products, we offer countless integrations to all your favorite tools, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Slack, so you don’t have to give up apps you know and love. Instead, bring everything together under one digital roof and experience seamless interconnectivity with

team planning capacity

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Frequently asked questions

For the most passionate about projects and planning, here are a couple of answers to some often-asked questions about resource calendars.

What’s included in a resource calendar?

A resource calendar shows each team member’s schedule, including planned time off during the project lifecycle. Tasks, activities, and other resource dependencies are also scheduled. A good resource calendar also provides a summary of each individual’s skills and abilities so project managers can reassign tasks if the need arises.

How are resource calendars used in project management?

Project managers use resource calendars to strategically assign tasks to the right individuals to improve efficiency and productivity. Taking a high-level perspective of who’s working on what task and how they’re progressing can help them improve the flow and identify roadblocks in time to mitigate them.

Secure a bountiful harvest with resource calendars

A robust resource calendar filled with rich team details is one of the best management tools you can have at your disposal. And when coupled with a powerful and flexible Work OS like, you’re giving yourself every possible advantage for project success. We’ve come a long way since the invention of the calendar, but tools are no less important now than they were thousands of years ago, so there’s no reason to toil in the soil with lesser inventions.

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