Trying to figure out the differences and capabilities of the various types of resource management software available can feel a little overwhelming.
In this buyers guide we explain the different types of tools available and how they could benefit you.
And we look at some of the key features to watch out for when evaluating resource management software.
If you are ready to start evaluating resource management solutions, our shortlist of the best resource management solutions is a good place to start.
What is resource management software
Quite simply, resource management software helps you streamline, manage and optimize how your resources are scheduled to work on projects.
Most organizations start by using spreadsheets for resource management but quickly hit limitations that makes them unusable for resource management.
So instead they look for dedicated resource management software.
What does resource management software do?
With resource management software you can:
- See the resource capacity of your organization.
- Understand the available skills mix.
- Compare this to the resource demand coming from your projects.
- Make better informed resourcing decisions.
This allows you to identify resource shortfalls, make decisions about which projects you can do and how best to allocate your resources to projects.
Resource management software can sometimes be called resource planning software, capacity planning software or resource scheduling software.
Must have features of resource management software
Different resource management solutions have different capabilities.
But the fact remains.
The two key things resource management software does are:
- Compare the supply of your resources to the demands being made upon them.
- Performs a gap analysis between the resources you have and the resources you need.
If resources have too much work you either need to:
- Hire more resources.
- Reduce the amount of work you are doing.
- Re-allocate resources.
Here are some of the must have features you should look for when comparing resource management software.
1. Role, team and resource based planning
Being able to plan resource by role (skill), team or individual resource is essential.
Resource management is an iterative process which starts by planning roles to projects and then swapping the roles for teams or actual resources.
So don’t choose resource management software that forces you to do your planning at the named resource level.
2. Support for agile, waterfall and BAU work
Resource management software needs to support the way you plan and organize your work.
And this point is really important.
Look for resource management software that supports both agile and waterfall planning.
Secondly, not all work an organization does is projects.
So ensure the software can also be used to plan the other non-project work your resources do.
In Kelloo a resource plan can contain a mix of agile and traditionally planned work alongside general business activities meaning your resource management picture is complete.
3. Scenario planning
There is no right answer when doing resource management.
Instead, there are competing project and resources options that must be evaluated against each other to strike the best balance.
Often this is called scenario planning or what if modelling.
This lets you see how approving a new project, hiring more resource or cancelling a project would impact your current schedule and resource utilization.
So ensure any resource management software you select allows you to create different planning scenarios.
4. Utilization reporting
Utilization reporting is a metric that shows you how busy resources are.
So conversely, it can also show you how available your resources are.
Resource utilization reporting is an essential component of resource management software which shows you which resources are in short supply or have capacity to take on more work.
Look for resource management software that lets you view resource utilization at the individual resource level as well as the role (skill) level.
5. Capacity planning
Most organizations have a finite capacity of resources.
So look for resource management software that allows you to compare the overall capacity of your resources to the projects you are being asked to do.
This is an important process when deciding which projects you can approve.
Too many resource management solutions focus on utilization reporting and ignore capacity planning.
Kelloo shows a cut off line in the resource plan to indicate projects with sufficient resource vs. those that cannot be approved due to lack of resource.
6. Remember the money - finance tracking
While resource capacity and utilization levels are key metrics, resource management software also needs to focus on resource costs.
Decisions on allocating resources will often be constrained by financial considerations.
So look for resource management software that lets you allocate usage costs to resources and then shows you how your resource plans stack up in terms of money.
Benefits of resource management software
Here are some of the benefits of using resource management software:
1. Get better alignment between organization priorities and how resources are allocated to projects.
2. Improve resource utilization tracking.
3. Ability to see the capacity of resources and compare them to demands being made.
4. Better resource forecasting to support resource hiring plans.
5. Ability to see the impact of approving new projects before committing.
Spreadsheets for resource management
A spreadsheet is normally the first tool that organizations turn to when trying to move their resource management into a software based platform.
And why is that?
It is easy to use and most organizations have a copy of Excel, Google sheets or some other spreadsheet tool.
If you are planning a handful of resources and one or two projects you may just get away with using a spreadsheet.
However as the number of projects and resources increases you should look to implement dedicated resource management software.
Here are some of the reasons using a spreadsheet for resource management may not be the best way to plan and manage your resources:
1. Spreadsheets are cell based.
So rescheduling a project in your resource plan will require editing lots of cells.
Which is time consuming and error prone.
With a tool like Kelloo, rescheduling work is easily accomplished by just dragging bars and the schedule and utilization will automatically be re-calculated for you.
2. Lack of reporting.
Spreadsheets do not include any standard reporting capability and reporting is a major need in resource management software.
3. Error prone.
One big downside of using a spreadsheet for resource management is that it is too easy for errors and bugs to creep in.
Make a single error in a formulae and your resource plan could be way off track.
Errors often creep in when copying formulae forward – which is something you will need to do a lot to model timescales in a spreadsheet.
4. Spreadsheets do not include standard resource management features.
Using a spreadsheet will mean developing the solution from scratch and trying to implement features that are standard in resource management software.
Things like utilization reporting, scenario modelling, financial tracking and capacity vs demand management will have to be designed and built into the spreadsheet.
5. Macros and programming.
Spreadsheet formulae will never be enough to implement a workable solution.
So inevitably you will have to use macros or program the spreadsheet to work like an application.