What Should You Look for in a Resource Management Tool?

Here you are at your desk, constantly fielding questions from different departments regarding the people available to address work concerns. The spreadsheets and manual logs lying before you contain silos of data that are either outdated, redundant or entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand. Added to which, you find yourself falling behind in your own tasks. Thus begins the quest for a painless solution in the form of a resource planning tool.

The resource pool is a firm’s biggest asset. As the pool expands in line with the business landscape, it gets harder to monitor availability, commitment levels and skills sitting within different departments. If a talented set of individuals move out of the firm or are made redundant, there is no certainty that their skills can be replaced in time for future work. Projects start falling apart quickly, resulting in discontent amongst both your staff and customers.

Industries with a global presence can benefit from a dedicated product that predicts workforce trends, creates actionable data points and automates the task of allocating the right resources. Project delivery depends on the experiential judgement of resources working on them. With varying timescales and technical complexities, roping in the right people matter all the more.

What then should you look for while buying an Enterprise Resource Management tool? Here are the basic features that the software should possess.

1. Enterprise-wide visibility

Visibility is a two-way street that benefits both project managers as well as  the resources required to work on them. It simplifies the planning process by giving a bird’s eye view of the project requirements and resources.

Forecasting requirements beforehand ensures that every department across the enterprise is sufficiently staffed at all times. It is not humanly possible to keep track of every extension number in the organization. Even after doing so, if the person is unable to devote their time and attention to the task in question, you end up right back at square one.
Visibility keeps resources informed of current and pipelined work, enabling them to do justice to the work handed to them. It also directs them to obtain the necessary training and certifications well ahead of time in order to be ready when work down the pipeline gets converted to live projects.
Miscommunication alone can hamper project progress when everybody across the enterprise cannot be brought on to the same page. Visibility reduces the frequency of such incidents from occurring by bringing everybody in the workforce on to a unified dashboard tailored by role and access controls.

The advantages offered by enterprise-wide visibility are complemented with a tool both visually appealing and interactive. Project managers would be able to use a range of options such as Gantt charts, color codes and sorting filters to find the right resources for the right job. Visibility ensures commitment from able resources at any given time.

2. Configurability

Different features are in use with an IT ecosystem. Therefore, the more configurable the software is, the easier it becomes for it to integrate seamlessly with existing systems. This proves to be very advantageous  when you have to constantly extract reports from different departments, across the enterprise. The software should display all the information necessary for decision-making without slowing down core technical components.

Although the task of extracting and analyzing data is a time-consuming process, by and large, configurability speeds up the time spent in retrieving relevant reports. It aligns data to the business architecture, ensuring that information updated on one end is reflected back uniformly in real-time without distorting facts or figures.

By setting different levels of access in accordance with employee seniority and type of role, the resource manager is provided with information most pertinent to his/her role, pointing to both a time and cost-saving measure. This additionally prevents information from falling into the wrong hands or from being doctored by unauthorised personnel.

At the end of the day, your productivity levels increase from spending time on the actual task rather than having to  sift through data and verify accuracy. The right information gives a holistic view of the outcomes to be achieved, allowing resources to access personal records and compare it against their contribution to the enterprise as a whole.

3. Compliance in Capacity Management

Capacity management refers to the organization’s ability to balance demand against capacity. A study by the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows that talent deficiencies significantly hamper 40% of strategy implementation efforts. This is a wake up call for companies to focus on retaining an adaptive workforce for the future.

Weighing demand against capacity predicts how future-ready you can be and directs you towards a balanced yet fully optimised resource pool. The tool you choose should be intuitive enough to let you map resources to projects based on utilization levels and skills inventory.

A fully optimized workforce can be created by constantly surveying utilization levels.

The key to successful resource management lies in accurate demand forecasting. Over-utilized staff are stretched thin across different demands, thus affecting productivity. Under-utilization results in key skills being overlooked during peak times, building the case for project failure. This poses a real risk to your organization’s overall profitability.

Utilization determines the duration for which resources can be engaged in both BAU and non-BAU activities, thus optimizing the workload. Mapping every project and non-project hour clocked by different resources on to a unified measure allows businesses to see utilization levels as a whole. In case of an excess or insufficiency in work, workforce restructuring measures can be initiated accordingly.

4. Enhancing Skill Comparisons

Finding the right skills governs the type of work that can be carried out in future. By retaining a highly diversified workforce, the quality and quantity of work increases significantly.

The marked improvement in project quality translates to a larger percentage of satisfied customers.The parameters that narrow down your search for the right person is based on location, years of experience, the area of expertise and current utilization levels. Matching skills lets you see the requirements driving the project before assigning the appropriate resources to it.  This measure allows you to remain cost-efficient by pointing you to existing resources and their availability rather than go on an unnecessary hiring spree.

By ranking skills based on occupation, utilization and importance, the tool would be able to predict the number of resources possessing these skills well ahead of time. In the event that sudden contracts pour in, you can rest easy knowing that your tool will always display the correct information. It will enable resource managers to track skills utilization distributed in different proportions across several projects.

Resource management tools like Saviom are designed to guide organizations towards a world of clarity. It provides crucial, real-time visibility of pipeline projects in comparison to the available resources. This offers managers a comprehensive view of critical data with regards to resource allocation, capacity and non-billable time. It increases both the productivity of resources as well as the profitability of projects delivered.   
An ERM is not just another software to add to long list of tools your firm already uses. It is the key propeller of the efficiency levels you unlock in the years to come.

James Anthony

By James Anthony

A senior FinancesOnline writer on SaaS and B2B topics, James Anthony passion is keeping abreast of the industry’s cutting-edge practices (other than writing personal blog posts on why Firefly needs to be renewed). He has written extensively on these two subjects, being a firm believer in SaaS to PaaS migration and how this inevitable transition would impact economies of scale. With reviews and analyses spanning a breadth of topics from software to learning models, James is one of FinancesOnline’s most creative resources on and off the office.

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