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As a project manager, you know the constant struggle of trying to manage, track, and forecast resources for your projects (especially when you're managing multiple projects at once). Without the right tools, this task can quickly become overwhelming, leading to project delays, budget overruns, and team burnout.

Resource management software is designed to help you manage this challenge, providing tools that can enhance efficiency, visibility, and control over your resources. Below, you'll learn about the essential features of resource management software, so you can make an informed decision when selecting the right tool for your needs.

What Are Common Features Of Resource Management Software?

Here are the common features offered by most resource management platforms that can help you optimize resource usage, improve project performance, and drive success in your organization.

1. Visibility

The whole point of using resource management software is to gain a better understand of exactly what’s going on with your resources. Your tool should give you visibility into:

  • What’s the availability of each team member?
  • 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?

Poor visibility leads to inevitable project delays and even project failure. Having clear views that display this information means stakeholders know what’s happening right now and what's expected in the pipeline.

2. Capacity Planning

Most resource management software will also give you 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. 

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3. Financial

Your resource management software should also help you keep track of estimated project costs and the actual money spent. This is a vital part of project planning—if a project goes way over budget, further funding might not be available and the project could fail.

Understanding the cost of your resources also 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 being 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 time tracking software like Toggl. Get a clear picture on how much time they’re spending on a task and how much it will cost.

4. 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.

5. 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

Every business will have different needs when it comes to resource management software. So what features should you focus on when selecting a solution for your needs? Ask yourself these questions:

How Accessible Is It?

Software that's been installed locally 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? What 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 your main resource is people, there are several resource management platforms that are built for managing teams. Each team member can have their own user accounts and can track time as they work on specific areas of a project.

If you need software that can handle services, equipment, and space resources, 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 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 will fit 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 manage 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 is it 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.

Need expert help selecting the right Project Resource Management Software?

If you’re struggling to choose the right software, let us help you. Just share your needs in the form below and you’ll get free access to our dedicated software advisors who match and connect you with the best vendors for your needs.

Galen Low
By Galen Low

Galen is a digital project manager with over 10 years of experience shaping and delivering human-centered digital transformation initiatives in government, healthcare, transit, and retail. He is a digital project management nerd, a cultivator of highly collaborative teams, and an impulsive sharer of knowledge. He's also the co-founder of The Digital Project Manager and host of The DPM Podcast.