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5 Common Features Of Resource Management Software For Project Managers

Over half of workers waste several hours on unproductive tasks that could otherwise be automated, according to a work study by monday.com. Common features of resource management software include automation capabilities that help support project managers in reducing these types of tasks.

So why are so many companies wasting money on resources when there are better ways to manage the budget and skills they have available?

In this guide, I’ll explain what resource management software is and why it matters. You’ll learn what the common features are and how to decide which resource management software is best for your team. 

Let’s get into it. 

I’ll cover:

What Is Resource Management Software?

As a project manager, your resource management software is how you’ll keep track of your people, equipment, third-party professional services, and spaces—the resources. With this software, you can track and manage all the right resources, what they’re working on, for how long, and where you’ll need them in the future. 

It can be standalone resource planning software or built into a much larger project management platform that manages every aspect of your business.

Common Features In Resource Management Software

Resource management platforms vary in features, pricing, and structure. Many have key elements in common to help you effectively manage your project progress and who is working on what. 

Visibility

The ability to see exactly what’s going on with your resources is the whole point in having resource management software in the first place. The most important features are:

  • Resource capacity: what’s the availability of each team member, are they not utilized enough or spread too thin?
  • What skills or purpose does each team member provide? 
  • What's the resource demand going to be in the future?
  • What resources are in short supply?

As the project manager, you’ll need this key information when managing your project. Poor visibility leads to inevitable project delays and even project failure. Having clear views that display these features means stakeholders know what’s happening right now and what's expected in the pipeline.

Capacity Planning

Every stakeholder should be able to view the resource plan information that’s relevant to them. They get a clear picture of resource capacity planning, what tasks each person has, and what their priorities are. Is the workload overwhelming? Is a resource not being used to its full potential?

Knowing what’s going on inside a project from the resource’s task level allows project managers to plan efficiently and make sure people are working on the right things at the right time. 

Financial

Keeping track of money is a vital part of project planning. This is true for both the overall estimated costs and the actual money spent. If a project goes way over budget, further funding might not be available and the project could fail.

Understanding how much resources cost allows you to better plan for the remainder of the project. With a resource planning tool, you can also figure out where too much money is spent.

For example, could scheduling the right resource, such as an automated task management tool, save money compared to hiring a person to complete tasks manually?

A straightforward way to manage people-based resources is for them to use a time tracker like a Toggl plan. Get a clear picture on how much time they’re spending on a task and how much it will cost.

Collaboration

It’s imperative that project members communicate with each other to do their best work on a project. With resource management, it’s the same story. Let's say there's a resource scheduling problem and a service you needed is overbooked. Using resource scheduling software with collaborative tools means you can work together to solve the problem quicker.

It keeps everyone in the loop without having constant project meetings to fill everyone in. A helpful project management system can even adjust the resource timeline automatically to account for an unexpected change. 

Reporting

Reporting and having access to key analytics is vital for any project manager. You need to know what’s going on inside multiple projects and what the results are, both for making important changes and for showing your managers in project update meetings. 

Reporting features help you keep track of how a project is progressing, where resources are being used most effectively, and gaps where processes could be improved. Without reporting, you could experience project delays and inefficient working.

Learn more about specific use cases for resource management software here.

Other Useful Considerations For Your Resourcing Needs

With every business’s needs being different, how do you know which features are useful? Ask yourself the following questions to figure out which resource manager platform would help rather than hinder your project management efforts.

How Accessible Is It?

Installed, local software has its limitations, such as difficulty sharing data stored locally and the need to back up data regularly. If it’s just your small team under one roof, that might not cause too much of a problem. But what about as your team grows, if you’re based all around the world, or working from home? You’ll all need to have access to the project info in real-time.

Cloud based platforms have an advantage here, as they’re often available on different devices and are more flexible as a result. 

What Kind of Resources Do You Have?

If you’re just working with people, then many resource management platforms are built for this. Resources have their own user accounts and can track time they work on specific areas of a project. 

If you’re including services, equipment, and space as resources too, this is a bit trickier to deal with. You’ll need a platform that recognizes human and non-human resources equally to help you budget, track, and organize effectively on the same system. 

How Easy Is It To Implement?

Put plainly, people won’t use a piece of software if it’s more of a hindrance than a help. It’s valuable to choose a management software that allows people to log in easily on multiple devices. A Gantt chart, kanban board, and graph view provide different ways to display timelines, tasks, and communications. 

Does It Scale for the Future?

Opting for cheaper resource planning tools might work in your favor now, but if your business is growing, it’s less stressful and saves company money to choose a platform that fits you in the long-term.

Check to see how easy it is to add new users and whether the platform supports your overall long-term business goals, or if it’s a quick fix. 

How To Get The Most Out Of Resource Management Software

Resource planning helps you in managing resources and hopefully leads to a more successful project. There’s no point in using software to manage your resources if you don’t know what they are or how they’re being used.

Creating a resource plan doesn’t have to be tricky or take a lot of precious time. Here’s an overview of how you can plan your resources before you choose your resource management software

Make a List of All Resources

First, you’ll need to know every resource you plan on involving in your projects. That’s staff members, third-party contractors, spaces such as meeting rooms, equipment such as PCs, and services such as software subscriptions.

The Resource's Role

Next, you’ll need to make it clear what each of these resources offers. Consider the following for project team members:

  • What are their skills 
  • Areas of expertise
  • Qualifications
  • Experience

If it’s non-human, think about:

  • Where it’s located
  • What function does it provide

From there, you’ll know how the resources you've listed relate to your project. 

Timeline Plans

To fit these resources into your overall project plan, add them to a timeline: 

  • What parts of the process are they involved with? 
  • When are they needed? 
  • When will they be available again?

Booking

This ties steps one and three together. Once you understand what resources are available and when, you can begin booking them according to the overall project timeline. From here, a resource management platform can even automate part of the booking to flag up when a resource isn’t available, or has been double-booked.

How To Choose Your Resource Management Software

Now that the importance of having the correct platform in place is clear, what platform do you choose? I made a handy guide for this very question. Read up on the platform and tools I believe are the best for resource management

And if you love all things project management, don’t forget to subscribe to The Digital Project Manager's newsletter for helpful content right to your inbox. 

By Galen Low

I am a digital project management nerd, a cultivator of highly collaborative teams, and an impulsive sharer of knowledge. For the past decade, I've been shaping and delivering human-centered digital transformation initiatives in government, healthcare, transit, and retail. I'm also the co-founder of The Digital Project Manager and host of The DPM Podcast.

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