Looking for the best resource management software isn’t always an easy task – especially if your organization is still working with spreadsheets and basic project management tools.
An effective resource management solution enables you to maximize outcomes while improving resource utilization. That way, projects in your portfolio have the resources necessary to succeed.
Selecting the right resource management software requires carefully considering exactly what your organization needs. If all required is basic resource scheduling and time tracking, there’s an app for that. If you aim to find resource management software for enterprises, there are robust solutions capable of meeting your company’s demands.
We’ve come up with a guide to help you select the right resource management software for your organization. But first, let’s look at what resource management is and how you can use a software solution to plan and manage projects more efficiently.
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What Is Resource Management Software?
Resource management software helps you track and assign resources to a project or an entire portfolio. Resources include people, technology, budgets, and capital goods. And all of these are tightly linked, as well as constrained. Allocating resources effectively is a challenging, constant choreography.
That’s where resource management software can help. Using it makes it easier for you to:
- Understand resource availability
- Assign the right people to the right work – especially when creating cross-functional teams
- Determine resource gaps and dependencies
- Achieve your project objectives and budget/financial goals
Capacity and demand planning allows a contextual view of resource workload and incoming requests. With this intelligence, project and portfolio managers can make faster, more precise decisions about planning and allocating resources for ongoing and future projects.
Modern resource management software is a powerful tool that brings transparency, organization, and alignment to enterprises looking to better manage resources against demand. The software solves real challenges common to organizations attempting to become more responsive to changing customer and market demands.
According to the Global Benchmark Study, “The State of Strategy Execution: Embracing Uncertainty to Adapt at Speed,” lack of resources was among the top-three barriers inhibiting most organizations’ responsiveness to change.
What’s more, 53% of Strategy Execution Leaders admitted they will invest in ways to better allocate resources to the most important work.
Resources are interconnected in new and different ways, such as virtual, cross-functional teams. This has engendered new skills and methods of working that project, resource, and portfolio managers must support and incorporate when planning and managing work.
The push for digital transformation, agile practices, and other initiatives renders legacy practices inadequate to keep pace. It’s difficult to manage all these moving parts in a spreadsheet.
Effective resource management software for enterprises helps cut through the complexity of managing resources in today’s dynamic, ever-evolving business environments. Because the more resources you have, the greater the risk of things going awry as those resources get more tied up in complex programs and projects.
Priorities and strategies can change overnight. It’s critical to be able to re-orchestrate resources quickly and efficiently to adapt when these changes occur.
These drivers highlight the need for resource management software that helps organizations optimize resources and utilization effectively and efficiently across their projects, programs, and portfolios.
Here are some things to look for in a modern resource management software solution.
What Are the Benefits of Resource Management Software for Capacity Planning?
One of the primary capabilities of resource management software is its capacity planning.
Organizational leaders must know whether they have the resources to do the desired work and that they have the right resources at the right time.
Unless you are actively tracking resources and using a modern resource management tool, you have no way to understand if the skills and assets your resources provide are (and will continue to be) adequate to meet demand.
Poor capacity planning leads to exhausted resources, low morale, out-of-control costs, and failed goals to support current and future demands.
The good news is your capacity planning can reap multiple benefits when supported by resource management software. Below are some benefits of adopting a resource management solution for enterprises.
It is highly time-consuming to manually track what people are working on and compare their availability with project lifecycles.
Resource management software automatically tracks individual resource skills and availability against the current, planned, and proposed projects. That way, you know who is available, when they’re available, and for how long. Leaders spend less time gathering data and ensuring resources are consistently optimized.
An even division of labor
Forbes Human Resources Council found that one of the most common human resources complaints is having too much work and not enough time to complete it. It’s estimated that as many as 82% of employees feel overworked, a sentiment that directly impacts performance and retention.
Resource management software gives managers instant visibility into who is doing what and when so they can optimize all resources without overworking or underutilizing anyone.
When people have the “just right” amount of work, they can reach their potential, feel respected, and enjoy their contributions instead of experiencing burnout.
Increased delivery confidence
Having greater insights into your capacity and dependencies allows you to manage projects more effectively and feel more confident about having the right people and skills on board.
Resource management software provides visibility into:
- Which skills are most in-demand
- The people you have (or don’t) with those skills
- When they are available for which projects and work
Proactively understanding gaps and dependencies gives you time to address them with stakeholders before they cause issues. This foresight ensures a better balance of capacity and demand, so you can appropriately prioritize and shift projects and resources as needed.
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Projects fail for a lot of reasons. And a major culprit for failure is because resources are allocated without regard to potential conflicts.
Resource management software reveals risks and dependencies, even allowing “what if” scenarios. Users can intelligently shift resources without interrupting operations, causing delays, going over budget, or overworking people.
Agile organizations embrace cross-team collaboration. According to McKinsey, one of the five trademarks of an agile organization is its ability to accelerate digitization and democratization of information.
Resource management software integrated in PPM ensures individuals and teams can work side-by-side in real-time, even if remotely. Sharing information, seeing each other’s work allocation, scheduling meetings, and tracking project progress all improve collaboration and work efficiency.
Why Your Organization Needs Resource Management Software
Resource management software for enterprises offers a lot of benefits. But how does it impact your organization?
Here’s how good resource management software can address common pain points that undermine the success of your projects.
Without accurate, real-time data, it’s easy to say yes to everything without understanding its impact on capacity.
The best resource management software keeps real-time data at the forefront across multiple metrics on customizable dashboards. Users can access what they need to see to make better-informed decisions with greater confidence.
Lack of hybrid and agile support
Gone are the days when every team across the organization simply uses the same methodology to deliver work.
Many times, the deliverables and expected outcomes require work to be delivered using different approaches. Organizations that implement resource management software enable leaders to maintain a clear line of sight into resources, capacity, and demand despite differing work methodologies across teams.
Silos are a killer of collaboration. Many organizations still operate with rigid structures that often lead to poor resource allocation and management.
Harvard Business Review says, “Today the most promising innovation and business opportunities require collaboration among functions, offices, and organizations. To realize them, companies must break down silos and get people working together across boundaries.”
Resource management software can be a tool to evolve from strictly vertical relationships to horizontal teamwork. It gives teams across the enterprise a better understanding of which resources are doing what, and what work is being delivered. Teams can prioritize, plan, and stay aligned with corporate objectives.
Poor visibility into resources
Resources aren’t infinite. Resources should not be managed in a silo.
Most organizations must learn to utilize shared and limited resources. It’s an impossible task without real-time visibility into demand and capacity. Poor visibility leads to mismanaged resources and missed opportunities.
The sheer complexity of it all requires sophisticated technology designed for resource management. Resource management software provides the necessary visibility for organizations to optimize and properly prioritize resources across the portfolio to maximize value.
The result? Balanced resources allocated across strategic initiatives and run-the-business work.
Compare the Best Resource Management Software Features
Not every resource management solution is created equal. Software varies widely in depth and breadth. Some are glorified project management tools, while others focus on managing resources for global enterprises.
It’s important to evaluate each one based on your organization’s requirements.
- Do you need to track resources for a single project or an entire portfolio?
- What are the organization’s biggest resource challenges?
- What does the executive team expect from the investment?
The good news is we’ve provided you with a baseline to start with – six key features to look for in every resource management solution. From timesheet management to capacity planning, these capabilities cover the basics.
Then you can determine if you need additional robust solutions, such as work management or a comprehensive project portfolio management (PPM) ecosystem.
Use the following features to guide you along your journey of finding the best resource management software for your organization.
1. Skills and availability management
The software must provide real-time data on the various in-demand skills and the availability of those skills. This allows for more precise resource allocation.
Leaders need to easily see skills gaps, as well as:
- Who’s available
- When they’re available
- Their relevant skills
Leadership needs to know where skills are currently allocated, and if it makes strategic sense to shift them based on changing priorities.
2. Dashboards and reporting
An effective solution will offer real-time insights into what’s happening with your resources. The ability to build visualizations and reports from this data improves communication and decision-making.
Ideally, any number of views and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be customized for each stakeholder. Dashboards and reporting make it easy to monitor if the right resources are working on the right projects, thus ensuring work is aligned with corporate goals.
An executive dashboard could show resources by project, department, program, or portfolio. This fosters a better understanding of why resources are not available for a certain project. It can also justify redistributing resources and funding based on the value the project delivers.
3. Request automation
One-off/ad hoc requests, “pet” projects, and non-standardized processes lead to poor project alignment to corporate strategies.
Software must automate resource requests for proper prioritization, setting the right expectations with stakeholders. A standardized, automated resource request workflow will establish better governance and justification of resource allocation.
4. Timesheet management
Completing timesheets or asking project managers to chase down timesheets is a constant burden that can be made simpler – or even automated.
Resource management software should include a timesheet management capability where every person can quickly and accurately log their hours. When it comes to planning, leaders have average task baselines so they can forecast project timelines and deliverables with better accuracy.
Timesheet management also provides a clearer picture of billing and chargebacks, resource rates, and where time is being spent to ensure an appropriate balance of work types.
5. Single source of truth
Many companies have resource information residing in disparate systems across the organization. Creating reports and making decisions based on this data is a tedious, time-consuming process.
A resource management solution should make it possible to centralize all resource data in one cloud-based location. This can be done via APIs or integrations – consider a vendor that can support both, common systems as well as homegrown tools or spreadsheets. Everyone gains access to the same accurate, up-to-date information and analytics.
This single point of truth eliminates manual processes and increases organizational agility.
Timely, objective information that everyone trusts speeds up analysis and decision-making. This is essential to ensuring the success of your projects as you plan, prioritize, and reprioritize resources.
6. Capacity forecasting
One of the goals of resource management is to give leaders the ability to plan with full assurance that the resources they need at that time will be available.
Resource management software provides this visibility, laying out current capacity, upcoming demand, and potential conflicts for those same resources – all against strategic priorities. Capacity forecasting allows leaders to balance resources evenly across the portfolio.
Steps for Evaluating Resource Management Software
By now you understand what a resource management solution can do, as well as what to look for based on your enterprise’s needs.
Another consideration is whether resource management software is all you need. Resources, strategies, outcomes, work, and financials are all tightly connected and must be managed in context.
For instance, it’s challenging to allocate or reallocate resources without visibility into in-flight work across teams.
Project success is increasingly being measured by outcomes (ROI, products, etc.), rather than on time and within budget parameters. This means tying work and performance to strategy, priorities, and financials.
Take these three steps to determine the right solution for your organization:
- Decide whether you need a project portfolio management solution or standalone resource management software
- Ensure your resource management solution acts as a single source of truth by storing data in a centralized cloud location
- Make sure your solution can customize your project requirements and timelines to best support your work
You should choose resource management software that’s powerful enough to meet your needs, while being simple enough to master.
Do I choose a robust PPM solution or standalone resource management software?
PPM solutions are more comprehensive than basic resource management software. They track multiple projects within a portfolio and are used for getting a high-level, global view of performance across projects, as well as the sustainability of those projects.
An effective PPM solution also allows companies to see whether projects are tied to the company’s strategy and goals.
For example, Planview is a leader in the PPM market. Along with managing resources, it’s used for helping companies achieve business results by continuously tying strategy to execution and pivoting quickly when needed. The solution facilitates a more outcome-driven approach, enabling teams to deliver business value faster.
At a more granular level, Planview’s PPM solution enables PMO leaders, project, portfolio, and resource managers to:
- Gain a top-down view of the project portfolio and the resources allocated to each project
- Measure the performance of projects to ensure the company is investing the right resources into the right work (i.e., work that aligns with company strategy)
- Empower teams to work in a way that is best for each team and project, with support for traditional, agile, and hybrid work
- Obtain real-time insight into resources and project performance and easily measure, manage, and track all resources in the portfolio
With Planview’s PPM solution, portfolio managers can proactively allocate resources to projects and redistribute resources as the industry changes and priorities shift.
In contrast, simple resource management software is focused on the basics of on-time, on-budget delivery, and resource utilization. The core capabilities are allocating, tracking, and scheduling resources for one or more projects and teams. These solutions help ensure that all projects have the resources needed, including adequate funding, people, and equipment, to achieve the project goals.
The following are examples of standalone resource management point solutions:
- eResource Scheduler: The flagship software product of ENBRAUN, eResource Scheduler is a resource planning and management tool offered as both a cloud-based and an on-premise solution
- Float: Float is a web-based resource scheduling and time tracking tool that enables teams to plan, schedule, and track projects in one place
- Hive: Focused on improving workplace productivity, Hive is a collaborative work and project management platform that provides time tracking and team collaboration capabilities
- Kantata: Kantata bills itself as a professional services automation company offering everything from resource management to team collaboration and business intelligence
- ResourceGuru: ResourceGuru provides resource management software that enables the scheduling of people, equipment, and other resources online
Resource management software is traditionally for resources only, although companies are adding features such as collaboration.
Unlike PPM solutions, standalone resource management software lacks high-level views of project performance and portfolio management capabilities.
Also, this type of software doesn’t typically assign and track work as other work management solutions do. Therefore, many organizations will integrate resource management tools to sync data into other systems to get a more holistic feature – caution in this as this may prove to be a costly and inefficient way to centralize data.
Resource management software or robust PPM solution: Which is right for you?
Filtering through the various solutions is more complex when each claim to be a jack of all trades. The critical factor is choosing what your organization needs. Here’s a relatively straightforward guideline:
- If you only need to manage resources, choose simplified resource management software
- If you need a collaborative solution for tracking and managing work, choose a (collaborative) work management tool or basic project management application
- If you need something that can measure the performance of multiple projects and assess their health, while managing resources and keeping work aligned with company strategy – choose a comprehensive project portfolio management solution
Once you’ve determined the right solution to meet your needs, you must get the executives on board.
Gaining Executive Support
Gaining executive buy-in is a critical step in any new initiative. They must understand the impact poor resource planning has on the organization – missed deadlines and inability to deliver on strategy.
In today’s changing economic landscape, uncertainty is certain and the rise of hybrid ways of working is impacting delivery, a good way to position resource management software is by determining how it can help leaders effectively and efficiently analyze and track data for better decisions.
- How many projects are delayed, failed, over budget, or consuming too many resources needed elsewhere because there’s not a system to understand capacity and demand?
- How well are teams being utilized?
- What is the impact of disruption?
- Are teams overcommitting during planning?
- How does the business know if available resources are working on the highest priority projects?
- How much time are resources spent on maintaining the business versus growing the business?
These are just a handful of questions resource management software can answer, and they go a long way in justifying the investment and a shift in culture.
Once executives are on board, choose a comprehensive project portfolio and resource management solution. The integrated tools will provide limitless visibility into both resources and work. Leaders gain a big-picture view and a single source of truth.
Remember that any solution implementation will take time to adopt and optimize fully.
Many organizations choose to take a phased approach, rolling out the solution slowly to gain product champions and incremental value along the way. Those champions are instrumental in encouraging and training others.
The rewards for your efforts are not only greater efficiency, productivity, and alignment.
Get the Right Data to Make Sound Decisions
Resource management software is fundamental to businesses today.
The most successful companies continually allocate their resources to the highest value investments in order to achieve the best outcomes. These organizations plan and replan, deftly and speedily moving teams and funding to pursue new opportunities and adapt to changing market conditions.
This zenith requires PPM software with resource management capabilities. Use this guide as a starting point for which features to search for. Then, choose what works best for your company’s unique requirements.
Take the next steps. Download the Savvy PMO’s Guide to Resource Planning to learn how you can align resources to your highest-value work.