The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Resource Management Software
There comes a point in time when your business must move beyond planning your every move on a whiteboard.
Low barrier strategies like whiteboards and spreadsheets that may have worked in the past simply won’t cut it for today's modern teams. That's where resource management software comes into play—a tool businesses can use to plan their tasks and get the most out of their teams.
It sounds too good to be true, right? We know, but hear us out! Research by Capterra reported that 65% of companies felt their project management software had a positive impact on their projects being delivered on time, and PMI's Pulse of the Profession 2018 found that 80% of senior executives highly value investing technology to better enable project success. There’s no doubt that it pays to manage your project resources digitally.
In this piece, we're going to talk about:
- What is resource management software?
- Who uses resource management software?
- What should your resource management software include?
- The advantages of using resource management software
What is resource management software?
Resource management software is a tool that helps organize projects based on resources. When we talk about managing resources, we can consider things like:
- Human resources (the most crucial resource of all)
- Hardware resources (e.g., computers and other software)
Think about the last time you planned a project. How did you organize your team member's time? Did you have a plan to stay on budget?
According to a study by Wellingtone, the main reasons projects fail (apart from poorly trained managers) is taking on too many projects at once and a lack of budgeting. Without a clear plan, projects are at a higher risk of failure, which is where resource management software steps in.
Every company plans its resources, but not all do so smartly. Specialized software that focuses on planning, scheduling, and allocating resources can be a secret weapon for sticking to your budget and delivering your projects on time.
Let's look at one resource in particular—your team.
Each team member is assigned tasks to complete that match their skillset, and it's crucial to the project that they complete them on time. When it's used the right way, resource planning can take the stress out of managing your team’s time (and it doesn't have to involve spreadsheets!).
With a resource management software like Float, you can create tasks based on hours and duration, link them to a particular project and client, and then assign them to your team’s schedules. Scheduling work this way lets everybody know what tasks they need to do and when. It also keeps everyone in the loop about what the rest of the team is up to from a single, shared (and colorful) schedule.
Without a resource management software, that would be nearly impossible to achieve.
Resource management software vs. spreadsheets: what's the difference?
To manage multiple projects and teams that are scattered across different locations, simple spreadsheets just won’t cut it.
While some teams might use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to share a game plan and organize projects, managing resources this way requires manual data updates (i.e., your teams need to be constantly checking to see the latest version of what's going on with their workflows), and a serious time commitment.
Updating spreadsheets also leaves the door open for human error. If a task slips through the cracks or a budget gets miscalculated, it can put the success of the entire project in jeopardy.
Using resource management software not only gives you better visibility of what your team members are doing, it also shows what projects they are assigned to, their availability, and their schedules. With updates being shared with the team in real time, everybody has a clear view of what they are working on, and your team’s collaboration gets a boost.
Who uses resource management software?
Companies of all sizes can benefit from efficient resource management.
If you’re a small business with only a handful of employees, it makes sense you'd look for a shared calendar tool that can make the process of planning projects a little more collaborative. On the flip side, if you're constantly hiring new contractors to complete work on projects, a solution that ensures everyone is always working from the same page becomes even more critical.
It's fair to say that small (<100 employees) and medium-sized organizations (100-999 employees) would benefit from a tool that focuses on managing their resources better.
For most SMBs, resource management software is worth investing in once your company starts taking on multiple projects. With employees to juggle, tasks to complete, and budgets to maintain, keeping projects on track without the help of software makes things exponentially more difficult.
Kobe, a creative agency that focuses on mobile applications development, uses resource management software to measure the financial health of their projects. As a company with less than 50 employees, they've harnessed the power of resource management software to help them select the best team members to work on specific projects.
The company's co-founder, Bruno Bulso, says that since rolling out Float resource management software across the business in April, it’s been much easier to forecast Kobe’s resource capacity and the predicted success of their projects. By having a single source of truth for their upcoming projects, team availability, and overall schedule, Kobe is able to visualize the resources they’ll need to complete a project, cross-check it with who they have available, and allocate the best team members to each job.
Larger companies often have a mind-numbing number of resources to manage and clients to satisfy. Having the right tools to plan, forecast, and allocate tasks (not to mention manage budgets) is a necessity.
For any enterprise who wants to keep their profit margins and resources under control, resource management software is a must-have tool in their tech toolkit.
What should your resource management software include?
Not all resource management software is built the same. It's important to identify your "must-have" software features before deciding to invest in one.
1. Scheduling and allocation tools
Resource management software should give you the tools to schedule and allocate your resources.
We're talking about calendars, time-blocks, and the ability to set deadlines for tasks. For example, having the ability to drag-and-drop resources on a schedule and move them around when needed is a lot easier than messing around with spreadsheets.
And for those tasks that crop up daily or weekly, your resource management software should offer a recurring task scheduling feature to save you time.
2. Skills tracking
Each employee or contractor on your books likely has unique skills they bring to the table and different availability from one another.
The right resource management software will give you the ability to input employee schedules, create profiles for them, and assign tasks based on their skillsets. These variables should be just as easy to search for as they are to add. Your resource management software should have search functionality that makes it faster and easier to assign tasks to anyone on your team using project variables such as skills, client, department, and availability.
Here's where investing in resource management software really starts to make sense for businesses.
Using forecasting, you can gain insight into your future resource capacity and decide whether or not you can afford to take on more projects. With Float, you can get an instant snapshot of your team's capacity and availability, so they'll never be overbooked or underutilized.
Your resource management software should also record data on sales, projects, launches, and schedules to help you make smarter decisions moving forward.
Lastly, your resource management software should fit in easily with your existing tech stack.
Does your team live in Slack? Teamwork Projects? Google Calendar?
Picking the right resource management software means investing in a tool that will be welcomed with open arms by your team. Choosing software that doesn't integrate well with others can lead to friction in your workflow and resistance from your team.
At the very least, you should make sure your resource management software integrates with a third-party tool like Zapier, so you can create workflows as needed.
The advantages of using resource management software
Resource management software can help you address core challenges like knowing your team’s availability, what they're working on, and if you're going to hit your project deadlines.
Advantage #1: It stops you and your team from burning out
Overbooking (or underbooking) teams on projects is an ongoing problem for businesses. Take on too many projects, and your team will be swamped; take on too few projects, and your cash flow will suffer.
Resource management software helps you gauge your team's capacity so they stay busy—but not to the point of burning out. Using software, you can encourage your team to complete their work on time, and reallocate their tasks when a project timeline shifts.
Let's say that halfway through a project your client requests some extra deliverables. Can you take them on? Can your team handle the additional work without being overloaded? Will it affect other projects in your pipeline?
Resource management software helps you see if you can pull team members from elsewhere to take on the extra work, or if you'll need to look at other options such as hiring contractors or negotiating timelines. Situations like this are by no means uncommon, so don’t be surprised if your resource management software quickly becomes your "single source of truth" for planning projects.
This can help you:
- Save time: Nobody likes crunching numbers (unless your last name is IRS), and a resource management software can automatically generate scenarios based on multiple variables and give you instant insight into project capacity and budgets.
- See current (and future) resource gaps: Underutilized team members can lower team morale just as much as those who are burnt out. Resource management software helps you spread the workload evenly and fill in any gaps that exist. When availability changes or a project needs an extension, you can rearrange your team's workload in a few easy steps.
The company's CEO and co-founder, Matthias Burtscher, says the software has enabled the team to see their own (and their co-workers') schedules in advance, and make changes to it.
"It also forces project managers to do capacity planning, as the software is our single source of truth for planned work," he says.
Advantage #2: It boosts cross collaboration
The success or failure of a project can hinge on how well your team works together.
For example, a video production agency needs everybody from its art director to the designer and copywriter to work in sync on a project to ensure it gets delivered on time. Without a team working collaboratively, projects can't get done. It's that simple!
Resource management software gives everyone on the team a birds-eye view of what's happening on a project and when tasks are expected to be delivered. This takes the guesswork out of who is doing what, and when a project's deadline is looming.
Digital project studio Okay Bueno uses resource management software to encourage collaboration within their team. Product designer Alvaro Secilla says that their software of choice, Float, helps the whole team know what other team members are up to at all times.
Secilla says the software's simple navigation helps convey information easily to their entire team, and the visual UI makes it much more user-friendly than similar tools available or (ugh!) spreadsheets.
"The whole team knows, at a glance, what other team members are doing at all times, and that's really useful when you have to collaborate."
Advantage #3: It saves you money
Last but not least—money!
Employees who don't have a full workload can affect your business’s bottom line in a big way. On the flip side, if you take on too many projects you don't have the capacity for, you could end up losing clients if you don’t deliver on time or projects go over budget.
All of these financial sinkholes can be fixed with resource management software. By reallocating team members to other tasks, as well as automatically keeping track of project budgets, resource management software pays for itself in the long run.
It's challenging to track how much you've spent on a project's resources if you're manually updating a spreadsheet or relying on your employees to do so. With software, project costs are calculated automatically based on allocated tasks. If you assign a designer to a project for a 10-hour task, their hourly rate will be automatically deducted from the project's total fee, and you’ll be able to see how much money you have left to spend.
Before VCFO began using resource management software, the company struggled to not only allocate their sourcer's time, but to keep them on task. The company's director of recruiting, Vita Trevino-Garcia, says using resource management software has enabled their entire team to get on the same page and keep their schedules and budgets on track.
"Using resource management software has given us a better ability to calculate cost per hire based on the number of hours worked on each role," she says.
One of VCFO's main services is sourcing talent for finance, accounting, HR, or c-suite professionals for other companies. Here's how VCFO uses Float to make their lives easier.
If one of their sourcers spends 20 hours of time looking for a professional, and another spends 10 hours on the same search, the total time spent on the project is 30 hours. Trevino-Garcia says once VCFO places the professional with their client's company, that's where Float really shines. VCFO uses Float to figure out if the search made them a profit by taking those 30 hours of sourcing expense (e.g., at $40/hr) and deducting it from the overall project fee.
"This gives us a very clear picture of our ‘cost of hire’ for every placement," she says.
It's your turn
No matter what size your company is, juggling your projects, people, and deadlines is difficult work.
That's where resource management software can help. It automates the essentials like budget and capacity tracking, so you can make smarter decisions about what your team should be working on.
When a project comes into your pipeline, it's easier to envision how you're going to get it done when you have the help of a visual tool at your disposal. Using software, you can see if your team is at their peak capacity, or if you have the ability to rearrange their schedules to take the project on. Plus, dragging and dropping tasks into a team member’s calendar sure beats the dullness of updating spreadsheets.
It's time to start working smarter—not harder! With resource management software, you'll be on your way to doing just that.