What Is Resource Management Software?
Modern resource management software aims to help organizations optimize resources and utilization effectively and efficiently across their projects, programs, and portfolios. Instead of using manual processes or disconnected systems, integrated software automates how they provision, track, and manage resources across initiatives while considering demand, capacity, and dependencies.
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Resources include people, skills, technology and money, all of which are tightly connected. The more resources, the greater the risk things can get off track. And with the push to digital transformation, legacy practices are inadequate to keep up with so much change. These drivers make the need for resource management software that much more critical.
In “6 Step Action Plan for Effective Portfolio Management,” Gartner says, “To remain relevant and deliver value in the evolving digital landscape, PPM leaders need to evolve portfolio management.” They cite the need for visibility into work and constraints, as well as adaptive resource management in its top six best practices. Resource management software is a valuable tool to enable greater transparency and agility.
What Are the Benefits of Resource Management Software for Capacity Planning?
One of the primary capabilities of resource management software is capacity planning. Organizational leaders must understand not only if they have the resources to do the desired work but 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. TechRepublic says poor capacity planning leads to exhausted resources, low morale, out-of-control costs, and failed goals.
Fortunately, capacity planning can reap multiple benefits when supported by resource management software, including:
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, revealing who is available when and for how long. Leaders spend less time gathering data and ensuring resources are consistently optimized.
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.
When people have the “just right” amount of work, they can reach their potential, feel respected, and enjoy their contributions instead of experiencing burnout.
Resource management software gives managers instant visibility into who is doing what and when so they can optimize all resources without over 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
When you have greater insights into your capacity and dependencies, you can manage projects more effectively and have confidence that you are set up for delivery before you begin, 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, and when they are available for which projects. Understanding gaps and dependencies ahead of time 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.
One of the reasons projects fail is because resources are allocated without regard to potential conflicts elsewhere. Resource management software reveals risks and dependencies, even allowing “what if” scenarios, so users can smartly shift resources without interrupting operations, causing delays, going over budget, or overworking people.
Today’s more agile organizations embrace cross-team collaboration. In fact, McKinsey says one of the five trademarks of an agile organization is its ability to accelerate digitization and democratization of information. “The increased volume, transparency, and distribution of information require organizations to rapidly engage in multidirectional communication.”
Resource management software integrated within 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.
Features of Resource Management Software
Not all resource management software is the same; however, these following features are a good starting point and the foundation of a modern resource management solution.
Skills and availability management
The software must provide real-time data on the various in-demand skills and the availability of those skills for more precise resource allocation. Leaders need to easily see skills gaps, who is available with which skills and when, where they are allocated now, and if it makes strategic sense to shift them based on changing priorities.
One of the goals of resource management is to give leaders the ability to plan with full assurance the resources they need at that time will be available. Resource management software provides this visibility, laying out current capacity, upcoming demand, potential conflicts for those same resources – all against strategic priorities. Capacity forecasting allows leaders to balance resources evenly across the portfolio.
One-off/ad hoc requests, “pet” projects, and non-standardized processes lead to poor project alignment to corporate strategies. The 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.
Completing timesheets or asking project managers to chase down timesheets is a constant burden and waste of time when it can be made simpler or automated instead. 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 more accurately forecast project timelines and deliverables. It 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.
How to Choose the Best Resource Management Software
Modern resource management software is a powerful tool that brings transparency, organization, standardization, and alignment to enterprises looking to better manage resources against demand. The software solves real challenges common to organizations attempting to become more responsive and agile to changing customer and market demands.
The need for real-time data
Without real-time data, it’s easy to say yes to everything without understanding their decisions’ impact on capacity. The best resource management software keeps real-time data at the forefront across multiple metrics on customizable dashboards so users can see what they need to see to make better-informed decisions with greater confidence.
People working in different ways
Gone are the days when every team across the organization simply uses the same methodology to execute and deliver work – especially in large enterprise companies. While granting greater autonomy is an agile pillar, it can be challenging to keep everyone on the same page.
Many times the deliverables and expected outcomes require work to be delivered using different approaches. Organizations that implement resource management software with project management enable leaders to maintain a clear line of sight into resources, capacity, and demand despite differing work methodologies across teams.
Without Silos are a killer of collaboration, yet 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 so they can prioritize, plan, and stay aligned with corporate objectives.
A lack of visibility
Resources aren’t infinite. Most organizations have to learn to utilize shared and limited resources. It’s an impossible task without real-time visibility into demand and capacity, required and available skills, schedules and timelines, work, budgets, and alignment to strategies. Poor visibility leads to mismanaged resources and missed opportunities.
The sheer complexity of it all requires sophisticated technology designed for resource management, but resource management software provides necessary visibility so organizations can optimize and properly prioritize resources across the portfolio to maximize its value. The result? Balanced resources that are strategically allocated across strategic initiatives and run-the-business work.
Gaining Executive Support
Gaining executive buy-in is a critical step in any new initiative. They must understand the impact a lack of resource planning has on the organization – the toll the issues are having on resources and the enterprise, such as missed deadlines and inability to deliver on strategy. A good way to position resource management software is by determining which questions a resource management tool can answer to help leaders effectively and efficiently analyze and track data for better decisions.
- How many projects are delayed, failed, over budget, consuming too many resources needed elsewhere, simply because there is no system to understand capacity and demand?
- How well are our teams being utilized?
- What is the impact of disruption?
- How many resources are reporting feeling overworked?
- 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 so leaders have 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 along the way who can encourage and train others.
The rewards for your efforts are not only greater efficiency, productivity, and alignment but gives your organization a competitive advantage, both in talent retention and more consistently effective execution of higher-value work.