Project teams always face a delicate balancing act when it comes to resourcing and availability.
On the one hand, you always want to be sure that you have the capacity to deliver current projects on budget, on time and in accordance with your SLAs. Plus, if new work enquiries come in, you want to be in a position to say yes, knowing you can take on the new assignment without compromising those already in motion.
But on the other hand, the modern lean way of thinking tells us it is inefficient and wasteful to have under-utilised resources lying around, just in case you win a new contract. This is especially the case with you most valuable, and costly, resource of all – people.
So how do you tread that fine line between over-stretching and over-resourcing your project teams? That’s where resource management software comes in.
What is Resource Management Software?
Resource management software is a sub-category of project management software that focuses on human resources and skills. In a nutshell, it keeps track of who is doing what in the various projects your organisation is currently engaged in, meaning you always have sight of where spare capacity might be found for new work, or where you might be running into potential problems.
In addition, resource management software enables smart resource allocation. By matching job requirements against skills available, it can be used to optimise allocation, scheduling and workflows so you can achieve more through greater efficiency.
How does Resource Management Software work?
Solutions available on the market have a wide range of functionality, but most offer a core set of common tools and functions. Skills tracking and availability mapping is key, providing the fundamental overview of who is doing what, and when, that underpins resource management. When a new project comes along, companies can input the requirements and use the skills tracker to run a model of how they could meet the demands.
Other typical tools include resource planning spreadsheets, which now commonly include automated features such as team selection to ensure the smartest decisions are made. You also usually get timesheet and project tracking features, plus financial forecasting. Scheduling functions include predictive tools which allow users to explore ‘what if’ scenarios to model different potential outcomes.
Most applications also include longer term forecasting tools, for example to build up a detailed picture of demand for different skills to inform future recruitment.
What to look for in Resource Management Software
As with most business software platforms, one of the first things to consider in buying a resource management product is getting the best range of features for the best value. Modular solutions score well in this regard as they mean you only pay for the functions your organisation really needs, and you can build you resource management capabilities over time.
You also want a platform that offers enough flexibility to support your own processes, standards and data requirements. It is also important to consider implementation costs and support. Cloud-based resource management solutions are easy to access and don’t require the installation or configuration on your own systems, plus the technical management side is taken care of for you. It is also important to test out the UX and choose a platform with a well-designed, easy-to-use interface. Overly complex solutions will put your staff off and lead to higher training costs.