Project Management: Dealing with Scarcity

Our project management consultants often need to help clients navigate resource challenges, whether during the initial planning phase or after the project has moved into the execution stage. One common obstacle enterprises experience is resource scarcity. Funding may be the first thing that comes to mind, but many teams also struggle to manage scarcities related to personnel, knowledge, and time.

If you’re searching for ways to deal with scarcity without sacrificing quality or results across your project’s lifecycle, consider these tips on managing resources when supplies of talent, expertise, and time are low.


An inability to add members to your internal project team can create big challenges in moving initiatives to a successful completion. Without enough people to accomplish activities, delays are almost sure to arise. Your group may also encounter difficulties in resolving unexpected issues quickly, since everyone’s workloads are likely maxed out.

Project personnel scarcities can stem from several causes, including:

  • Your organization has a moratorium on hiring.
  • Money is tight and no additional funds for project staff are available.
  • Your project team has open positions that are approved and fully funded but filling them with qualified personnel takes longer than expected or hoped.
  • Though funding across the organization is plentiful, all available money in your project’s approved budget is already allocated to non-staffing line items.

When staffing constraints threaten to derail your project’s progress, it’s important to find a way to fill the gaps. A partnership with an experienced project management consulting team can be a good option to ensure your initiative remains on track. The right consultancy can also help handle control and planning functions, taking your personnel scarcity issues into consideration at each step.

Knowledge and support

Your team may have difficulty securing critical knowledge resources. Outside experts are sometimes booked too far out to accommodate your project schedule, or their fees might be above your budget. It’s also possible that niche functions—particularly those that require uncommon credentials—may be hard to find. A limited pool of experts, coupled with financial and time pressures, sometimes leads to knowledge scarcity.

Access to alternate knowledge sources can help you sidestep this scarcity and find the expertise you need. Look for professional groups that may have active internships or similar programs that can connect you with authoritative insight relevant to your project. And if these professionals are still building their expertise, their rates might present a more affordable option. You should also consider contacting organizations that offer credentialing services specialized around the areas you seek. Associations that administer professional certifications can often connect with you experts who are otherwise difficult to reach or who don’t maintain full-time consulting businesses, instead choosing to consider only a limited selection of contracts that closely align with their interests.


Project schedules are often aggressive, and teams may find themselves asked to achieve results in an unrealistically short period of time. There’s also the potential that time is working against your project in other ways, such as when market conditions and the organization’s priorities quickly shift. These factors often leave your team little time to react and adjust.

To overcome time scarcities, your team should maintain good awareness into your project’s status, risk profile, budget, and other key metrics. Having up-to-the-minute project data available on demand is also important, enabling you to determine how (and if) your initiative can best respond to changing priorities and new stakeholder expectations. You’ll also have the information you need at hand so you can work with your executive team on assessing the risks, costs, and benefits of adjusting your project scope, timeline, and budget.

PMAlliance, Inc uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project portfolio management.

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