Resources, from time to software and tools to employees, are the fires that keep professional service organizations running. But, coordinating and managing resources within a project can be difficult. Being able to account for each resource on a granular scale is essential to keep project efficiency and productivity high.
Read on to find out how to successfully use resource management software to coordinate projects across your organization and select the right kind of resource software for your team.
What is resource management?
In the context of project management, a resource is any asset necessary to help carry out a required task or meet a project milestone. Resources can be people, materials, tools, finances, or time. Completing most projects will require some form of all of these resources.
So what is resource management? In general, resource management typically refers to the oversight and management of a business' assets, so they are available and effective whenever they are needed. When talking about projects, resource management is the process of managing these assets over the life of a project. Assessing what resources are needed, scheduling and allocating the right support, and managing the use and efficiency of these resources is all part of resource management.
Benefits of resource management software
According to Project Management Institute's 2018 survey, 18% of projects fail due to inadequate resource forecasts, and 21% fail because of limited or taxed resources. That means roughly 1 out of 5 projects will fail without effective resource management, even if everything else goes right.
Poor resource management also hurts your team. Imagine people sitting around for a week, only to be logging lots of overtime hours the next. This imbalance can cause stress, burnout, and reduced motivation, all of which hurts productivity and can lead to lower quality deliverables. A steady, balanced workload keeps everyone happy and efficient, which means higher performance levels and better staff retention.
Resource management software helps ensure you don’t lose sight of your resources. It provides transparency, so you can adapt to changes and make critical decisions faster. Plus, resource software can track what resources you used, helping you improve your planning for future projects.
What if your project plan has a resource plan? Do you still need resource management software? The answer is yes. No matter how great your plan is, reality is always going to throw you a curveball. Whether it’s urgent change requests, unexpected sick days or shifting business priorities, something is going to force you to modify your plan. Without resource software, you may struggle to keep track of these changes and how they impact your resources.
Resource management software also enables you to provide more data to others. When everyone can see who is working on what, they know who is available for new work or other projects and who may need support.
How to find the best resource management services for your company
When you’re just starting, it might make sense to build your resource plan in a spreadsheet. But spreadsheets have their pitfalls. They’re difficult to share with others without the risk of losing or overwriting data, or creating multiple versions. Plus, you need to update them manually, increasing the risk of errors.
The right resource management software eliminates these issues and makes your job easier. But how do you know which is the right solution for you and your team?
The first step is to determine if you want a stand-alone tool or a project management tool that includes resource management services. If you already have project software, and you’re not ready to switch, it may be easier to adopt a stand-alone resource tool. However, this means having to either integrate your systems or manage your data in two places.
The next step is to identify which features you need and eliminate any service options that don’t offer them all. Key features typically include the following:
- The ability to specify effort for tasks and activities
- Capability for creating and assigning job roles
- Timesheet reports for tracking actual hours spent
- Workload charts for viewing your teams’ workload across timelines and projects
- Effort and team utilization reports for monitoring utilization of resources
- Locking time entries within the resource management software to ensure data accuracy
You may also want a service with billable time tracking if your team does both billable and non-billable project work.
While people tend to be the most significant resource on many projects, they’re not the only one. If you have other significant resources you need to manage, such as a critical piece of equipment, a testing lab, or contractor services, then you need to make sure your chosen resource software can handle these as well.
Creating resource management templates
One tip the experts give to new project managers is to use templates to stay organized. Resource planning templates help save time creating your resource plan, ensure all projects have a consistent layout, and lower the risk of you overlooking an essential resource requirement.
Some resource management solutions come with templates. Others will enable you to create them yourself within the system or manually create them in a spreadsheet or Microsoft Word file and then upload them into the system.
If you need to create templates manually, the easiest method is to start with a generic resource template and then modify it to suit your needs. If you’re starting from scratch, you can create a simple resource template by populating the following columns in a spreadsheet:
- Project Name: Name of the project in question
- Role: Type of resource being allocated
- ID: Identification number for the resource (such as employee number)
- Resource Name: Name of the person or asset being assigned
- Activity: Description of the work being assigned to the resource
- Start Date: Date the resource is to start the work
- End Date: Due date for the activity or task
- Hours/Day: Hours planned per day to complete the work
Improve your projects with resource management
Resource management doesn't have to be complicated. Wrike Resource can help you quickly and efficiently assign your team to multiple projects and tasks. Plus, it allows you to handle any incoming changes rapidly to ensure the optimum resource allocation.
Wrike Resource is available for Business, Enterprise, and Wrike for Marketers. For more information, head to our dedicated Wrike Resource page.