Effective resource planning is an important objective for different companies: small and big, working online, or operating in offline-based industries. Because of the diversity of businesses that need it, it's borderline impossible to provide a universal recommendation...
It’s getting increasingly difficult to navigate the resource management software landscape. With new tools launching regularly and existing apps offering more features, the choice is really wide. It doesn’t mean, however, that selecting the *right* tool is easy.
Yet, with inadequate resource forecasting and resource dependencies being among the most significant causes of project failures (as reported by Project Management Institute), companies need to find software that will help them with resource management challenges.
In order to make the selection a little bit easier, we’ve listed the must-have features of resource management tools.
You’ll see that we mainly focus on options that allow you to fit the tool to your team’s process. It’s important because you don’t want to change the way you and your team work just to be compatible with software requirements. When it comes to resource management tools, flexibility is the way to go. That’s why we kick things off with features that allow you to customize the tool.
It is often the case that a simple tool with a lot of customization options, is the most powerful one. Being able to add your own categories or create custom views will impact your comfort when using the tool.
Take a look at this example: most resource management tools allow you to filter your resources by their names or job titles. What if you want to use a different category instead? Say, divide your team by the office they work from. Software that offers custom fields to describe your workforce will provide you with that opportunity.
Customization is also important when you’re not using all of the features a given app offers. Can you edit the main view or your analytics to only show the information you care about?
The elements of Teamdeck’s main view are editable: you can hide the features you’re not using and create custom categories.
2. Big picture overview
When assessing resource management software options, pay attention to different ways you can check your team’s overall utilization.
These could include:
– a calendar/timeline view, where you can see all of your team members and their assignments,
– team utilization reports,
– notifications for alarming events (tracked overtime, planning over one’s capacity).
Seeing the big picture will help you with resource planning, forecasting recruitment needs or making changes in your project’s schedule.
3. Different permission levels
While managers (team leaders, PMs etc) remain the group that predominantly uses resource management software, regular team members can also benefit from it. They can, for example, access their work schedule, record timesheets or manage their availability. What about your clients? Perhaps they should be able to see the plans or reports as well.
Resource management tools that offer different roles and permission levels allow you to create a structure of users that makes sense for your project. It’s a huge time saver: instead of having to pass information along, team members or clients can see it for themselves.
Data-driven resource management comes with a lot of advantages. First off, analyzing historical data can help you uncover patterns helpful e.g. for HR forecasting. Then, you can also compare your plans with actual results of your projects, which will give you insight into the accuracy of your estimates. On top of that, robust reporting features are extremely useful for finance and operations team trying to monitor your company’s billable and non-billable costs.
Teamdeck’s reports are fully customizable: you can filter them or add custom calculations.
Using data to make better decisions is valuable across all industries. For service-based companies, however, resource management reports are essential to manage the profitability of their business. Plus, they can cut down the hassle as well. For example, agencies and consultancies will appreciate timesheets that can be turned into client reports or invoices with a few clicks.
5. Mobile access
Sure, the heavy-lifting part of resource management will almost always be done on desktop devices. This doesn’t mean, however, that mobile access to your resource management tool is not important. Quite the contrary: being able to check your team’s schedule or availability while on the go is very useful.
Team members who are asked to track their time, will definitely appreciate mobile time trackers, that are available as companion apps to some resource management tools.
6. API and integrations
The resource management software you end up choosing will become q part of your team’s overall toolbox. Project management software, team chat, HR management tool – you name it. Regardless of the size of your tool ecosystem, you want to avoid having to input data twice or missing some information. Integrating apps with each other will save you a lot of time and improve the efficiency of your team.
Most of the available resource management tools offer some built-in integrations that require minimal configuration. If you want to create a fully customized solution, you should choose tools with public API that you can build your own apps or automations with.
Working with hundreds of companies, we’ve learned that there is no one-size-fits-all resource management process. It all depends on the company size, industry or the nature of their projects.
This is why it’s so important to find software that supports your unique process, instead of slowing you and your team down. We hope that this list of must-have features will help you find a resource management tool that will be tailored (and then customized) to your needs.