Understanding the Stages of Resource Management Maturity

This series began looking at Capacity Planning as this is considered the easiest stage to implement for an organisation and should be seen as the foundation to maturing the resource management capability. Capacity Planning is the process of capturing demand against the project portfolio and calculating how many resources are required to then meet that demand. Part two looked at Resource Planning – the process of coordinating resources and allocating them in the most efficient way between projects. Part 3 of this series leads on to the next stage of the maturity model and will focus on how Project Online can be used for Resource Tracking.

What is Resource Tracking?

Resource tracking involves the monitoring of time spent on work by individual resources over the course of a project. This data will help you monitor project progress but also analyse how effectively resources are being utilised.

Using resource tracking software, such as the capabilities provided with Project Online, will help answer the following questions:

  • Are we using the resources as planned?
  • Is availability impacted by the fact that resources are working on things they were not planned to work on?
  • Is the project suffering from “scope creep”, with people working on new tasks not included during planning?
  • Is too much time being spent on lower priority activities delivering lower value?

What are the benefits of Resource Tracking?

  • Insight into workload – help Portfolio/Resource/Project Managers understand where resources are working at a given time. It can inform who has too much on their plate and who is underutilised.
  • Improve Estimation – enabling Portfolio/Resource/Project Managers to access more accurate insights into how long specific tasks take to complete. Comparing this data to original estimates will help improve future scheduling.
  • Focus on priorities – if the answer to the above question, ‘is too much time being spent on activities delivering lower value?’, is “Yes”, this will allow Portfolio/Resource/Project Managers to reprioritise workloads and ensure that higher priority tasks are getting the focus and attention they require.

Resource Tracking in Project Online

Depending on how Project Online has been configured, there are two ways that team members can enter task progress. Either via the Tasks area or through Timesheets.

Both the tasks and timesheets functionality within Project Online is linked to the schedule – to enable the update of task progress to support Project Managers to co-ordinate completion of their project in the most effective way.

Once the project planning stage is complete, the project enters the Delivery stage and the following cycle typically occurs:

Project planning stage enters delivery stage.


Once a user has been assigned work in the schedule, and that project schedule has been published, the user will then be able to visit the ‘Tasks’ area of Project Online to view all their assigned work in one convenient place. The task assignments are grouped into a number of planning windows – Current Period, Near Future, Distant Future and Completed. Planning windows make it easy for team members to focus on a particular time period, they can focus on the current workload but keep an eye on future tasks in the pipeline.

From this view, team members are also able to update progress on their tasks (assuming the organisation is not using the timesheet functionality).

The task view will display tasks on the left in Project Online

The ‘Tasks’ view will display the tasks assigned on the left, along with details including the Start and Finish dates, Duration of the task, the amount of work assigned, the amount of work actually completed to date as well as the work remaining.

On the right-hand side is the time-phased data section, where the work is displayed as hours per day for that period. Team members can either choose to update their actual hours spent on each task in the time-phased section or simply update the Percentage Complete. Either way, team members should update Remaining Work to provide the Project Manager with an update on how things are really going. For example, if the task you’re working on is taking longer than expected, for whatever reason, your project manager may be able to rearrange things down the road so that the overall project isn’t derailed. It’s best, to be honest!

When a team member submits their task updates, they will be sent to the respective Project Manager to review and approve/reject. Once approved, the task progress is then reflected in the schedule to enable the project manager to accurately account for whether the project is progressing as planned.


As above, once a user has been assigned work in the schedule, and that project schedule has been published, the user will then be able to visit their ‘Timesheet’ in Project Online to view a 1-week view of their task assignments. Timesheets differ from the ‘Tasks’ view in that only project task assignments are visible from Tasks, while administrative categories such as holiday, sickness, travel etc can also be displayed on the Timesheet.

Similarly to the ‘Tasks’ view, the Timesheet will display the project tasks assigned and administrative tasks on the left, along with details including the Start and Finish dates, Duration of the task, the amount of work assigned etc. On the right-hand side is the time-phased data section, where the work is displayed as hours per day for that period. This is where team members will enter the actual hours spent each day on their tasks.

Timesheet in Project Online

When a Team member turns in their timesheet, it is received by their timesheet manager. They review it and if everything looks good, the timesheet is approved. The task updates are also sent to the respective Project Managers to review and approve/reject. Once approved, the time then counts toward the total amount of work done on the task, and the amount of work remaining on the task is reduced.

Project Manager Status Updates

Some organisations do not make use of the Tasks and Timesheet functionality and prefer the Project Manager to maintain control and manage task progress manually via the schedule.

There are a number of different ways to update task progress via the schedule, some examples include:

  • Updating actuals via the Work table
  • % Complete via the Tracking table or
  • % Complete icons on the Tasks tab
  • Entering progress directly into the time-phased data section of the Task or Resource Usage views

Either way, the following cycle should occur:

Task cycle in Project Online

Similar to team members submitting task/time updates themselves, Project Managers should be sure to update the Remaining Work left on tasks, where applicable, as well as the actual start date. In reality, very few weeks go by without at least one task not getting completed on schedule and therefore being late.

Having a late task in the plan, while obviously not ideal, doesn’t necessarily mean that the project is at risk. It simply means that the work scheduled didn’t happen as planned. We, therefore, have to make project adjustments to move this work forward and get it rescheduled. Why? Because the “resource” can no longer complete those tasks on the originally planned date. Failing to make this adjustment results in a potential resource overload — the resource could now be scheduled not only to complete the unfinished work from the past but also a full load of new work.

Whilst this method does represent an additional administrative burden on Project Managers to maintain task progress, if executed consistently, along with the Tasks and Timesheeting functionality, it should help give an accurate reflection of resource utilisation, actuals vs forecast, as well as overall project progress.

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By: Rachel Goodwin

Rachel Goodwin
Senior PPM Consultant, Wellingtone | An experienced PMO professional; P30 and PRINCE 2 certified, skilled at developing and implementing Project & Programme management methodologies, tools and best practices, with the ability to balance formal processes with pragmatism to drive delivery.

Published: 24 June 2021

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