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The Limits of Using Excel for Resource Management

August 2, 2022 | By Samantha Varner

Transitioning away from Excel for your organization’s resource management is a big step. Decision-makers will certainly ask about the ROI of a new software, and most people in your organization are probably comfortable in Excel.

But the longer you continue using Excel for resource allocation, capacity planning, and forecasting, the more limitations you’ll run into. The reality is that at some point, most organizations simply outgrow Excel.

Why do organizations use Excel for resource management?

Let’s give credit where credit is due: there’s a reason nearly every organization starts their project and resource management efforts in Excel. First of all, the entire team likely already has Excel installed on their computer. Second, it’s incredibly easy to use. While there are more advanced features that take time and training, the fact remains that Excel’s basic functionality is both intuitive and powerful. 

From makeshift databases to time or project tracking systems, it’s easy to get all the project and portfolio details INTO Excel. The simple user interface is one of the biggest benefits of the software. But as your organization’s project portfolio continues to grow, demanding more spreadsheets and more makeshift databases, you end up with a plethora of data saved in many different places and often different formats. Eventually, the challenge becomes getting your data back OUT OF Excel in a way that has any real value.

Where does Excel fall short?

Excel can be a great tool in the early stages of project and resource management. But when it comes time to evaluate resource allocation, planned time versus actuals, or analyze your data in other ways, the software quickly fails.

One of the biggest challenges of Excel is that only one user can be in a spreadsheet at a time. Without concurrent editing features, data quickly becomes outdated as managers wait for the spreadsheet to be free to make important updates. And what happens when you log into the server only to find the spreadsheet you need has multiple versions? What if someone was still editing v3 while another user was creating v3.5? It’s difficult to know the source of truth for all data, and confusion of data leads to poor reporting and decision making.

Capacity planning and forecasting also present their own challenges. With so much data saved in so many places, it’s nearly impossible to see the larger picture. When circumstances change, from changing market demands to internal turnover, there’s no easy way to see how shifting resources or timelines could impact the overall portfolio.

When smaller companies have less projects and only a few people accessing the spreadsheets, staying organized isn’t hard. And as they grow, organizations may implement processes about who handles spreadsheets and when in order to keep it all straight. But it’s not hard to see why Excel simply isn’t sustainable in the long term for a growing organization.

How does Tempus Resource accelerate resource management maturity?

If you feel like Excel is falling short of your expectations, no amount of new processes or template updates is going to help. At a certain point, organizations simply outgrow it.

That’s when it’s time to upgrade. Software like Tempus Resource equips your organization with a comprehensive, user-friendly system that organizes all your resource management needs in one cloud-based platform. At its core, Tempus is resource management software built to do what you wish Excel could.

Users will find a familiar user-experience with the Tempus features like Flatgrid views that support a multi-user interface and concurrent editing. The platform feels intuitive, but the increased functionality is game-changing. What-If scenario planning gives decision-makers immediate insight into the impact of changing timelines, moving resources, or starting new projects. This sandbox forecasting feature means you can test hypothetical scenarios without ever altering your real data. 

Tempus also allows for both hours and FTE planning while syncing timesheet data to project actuals. You can capture skills, attributes, and capacity of individual resources, giving you important insight for the most efficient allocation. And when you need to make sense of all the data stored in Tempus, you’ll have access to create hundreds of reports and dashboards complete with automated email delivery based on standard reporting times, risk threshold, and more.

Unlike Excel, Tempus was purpose-built for all levels of resource management maturity. If you feel your organization has outgrown Excel, let’s talk about how Tempus can revolutionize your resource management.

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