From time to software and tools to employees, resources are the fires that keep professional service organizations running. But coordinating resources within a project without resource management software can be difficult. Being able to account for each resource on a granular scale is essential to keeping project efficiency and productivity high, and a robust resource management software platform like Wrike can help you do just that.
Read on to find out how to do resource planning using resource management software to coordinate projects across your organization — plus, learn how Wrike can help you manage resources more effectively starting today.
Tips for coordinating resources
Before we get into the specifics of resource management software, here are a few high-level tips for coordinating resources:
When possible, wait for resources to be ready
It can be tempting to get projects up and running as soon as you’ve gotten the green light. But beginning a project without the right resources in place can actually “extend the end date of a four-month project to as much as a year,” according to Gatner’s “Resource Capacity Planning for PPM Leaders: Crawl Before You Walk” report. That’s three times longer than expected.
It may seem counterintuitive, but delaying a project a month to accommodate resource availability could actually save you up to eight months of delays. Instead of pushing the project forward, wait until all resources are available to dedicate to the project. We know this may not always be possible when resources are scarce, but using technology like Wrike’s resource management software lets you better forecast team members’ commitments can help your entire organization achieve better outcomes.
Use real data
The only way to effectively manage resources is to know exactly who is working on what and when. But that’s easier said than done. Lack of visibility is one of the most common pain points for resources managers, especially when resources are assigned to projects across team or department lines — which happens the vast majority of the time.
Some 95% of workers in knowledge-intensive industries report working on more than one team concurrently, according to a report from the Center of Creative Leadership. Without true visibility into each resources’ tasks and projects across teams and departments, it’s easy for utilization to become unbalanced.
You can use tools like resource management software to better understand how much demand there is for each of your resources, so you can plan accurately and efficiently, and in real time. Spreadsheets that need to be downloaded, revised, and re-uploaded lead to gaps in visibility when everyone can’t see the most updated versions. Cloud-based work-management platforms where projects, tasks, and assignments are tracked within a single real-time solution keep everyone on the same page and up to date.
Overcoming common resource management challenges
According to Project Management Institute’s 2018 survey, 18% of projects fail due to inadequate resource forecasts, while 21% fail because of limited or taxed resources. That means roughly one in five 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.
Common resource management challenges include:
- Properly aligning project tasks and schedules with individual team member schedules, availability, and capacity
- Having a backup plan in place in case you lose or need to replace resources along the way
- Coordinating projects and planning workloads without over- or under-allocating resources
One of the best ways to overcome these challenges and more effectively manage resources is with resource management software.
Benefits of resource management software
Simply put, 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 management 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 management 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’s working on what, they know who is available for new work or other projects and who may need support.
Managing incoming work requests
Another key benefit of resource management software is that it helps tame the influx of work requests that can lead to project chaos. Studies have shown that ad hoc requests are one of the top productivity killers for workers, which means that establishing a process for accommodating ad hoc requests with minimal disruption and distraction to your team should be a top priority.
Three tips for managing incoming work requests
- Require a formal submission for all requests
When you have a clear work intake process, you get all the details you need up front, which cuts down on guesswork and allows you to prioritize properly. Create a clear template to manage requests and make sure everyone knows where to find it.
- Keep all your incoming requests in a single place
Route all new requests to a central location so they can be organized, prioritized, and tracked.
- Appoint someone to oversee incoming work
Whether it’s a team lead, project manager, or resource manager, when one person manages the flow of request, they can ensure workload is balanced among all resources.
How to find the best resource management software for your company
If you’re just starting out, 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, overwriting data, or creating multiple versions. Plus, spreadsheets need to be updated manually, which increases 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?
First, you need 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 standalone 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.
Choose Wrike for your resource management software needs
At the end of the day, resource management software helps your organization achieve on-time, on-budget project delivery while ensuring optimum utilization of resources. What’s more, Wrike’s unique suite of features helps you automate many aspects of resource management for more accurate reporting and metrics that can further improve operations. To get a first-hand look at all the ways in which Wrike can improve your resource management, click here to start a free two-week trial today.
Check out Wrike’s Resource Management Guide
Or, if you’re ready for more best practices on managing resources in the digital era, download our eBook, Wrike’s Guide to Resource Management.