At its core, resource management enables maximum project portfolio success by getting the right people to the right work at the right time. And having the right platform is crucial to unlocking these major benefits.
So how do you find resource management software that lives up to the potential? First, we have to break down the most useful functions and understand why each one is critical to portfolio success. Then, you can find the software that delivers on each one.
Important functionality to look for:
- Resource capacity planning
- Project forecasts and assignments
- What If analysis
- Time tracking
- Reporting and dashboards
- Skills management
Resource capacity planning
Project and portfolio success relies heavily on an organization’s ability to sequence the work prioritized based on the availability of their team members. By defining the number of hours available each week or month and the FTE associated, you can get a clear picture on how much time your team actually has to give.
Capacity is what drives resource management. You need to know how much time your team has to give each day, week, month, and even year. In today’s world of flexible work, a team member may work reduced hours. If that’s not accounted for, the person will likely be over-allocated, causing the project to be delayed.
With a solution like Tempus Resource, you can plan against named resources or against generic roles or skills. In the early stages of portfolio planning, a resource manager may not know the individual who will be working on the project, but they will almost certainly know the role that is needed. Your resource management software should allow for a flexible high-level planning process that doesn’t require slotting in named resources just yet.
Project forecasts and assignments
Efficient resource allocation is a must-have function of a resource management software. But to evaluate how well particular software can accomplish this goal, we have to look at the data and functionality that go into it.
Everything comes down to time. Managers need to know how much time a particular task will take and how long resources will be needed on each project. Even at the earliest days of resource management, allocation (time or FTE) can be estimated. And over time, resource managers can use past data to help determine future work.
You also have to consider ease of use in a software. Prior to using Tempus Resource, many customers lived in the land of Excel spreadsheets, often using several Excel spreadsheets across many teams. The right resource management software delivers a user experience that’s as quick and easy to use as Excel but with powerful capabilities that go beyond those little cells.
What If Scenario Planning & Analysis
Now, how do you use all of that data to dig deep into your portfolio? That’s where a feature like Tempus Resource’s “What-if” resource capacity planning capability makes all the difference by allowing you to model and prioritize projects against resource availability.
Once the initial prioritizations have been completed, resources must be assigned to the projects. If experience is any indicator, there likely won’t be enough people to do all the work a company wants to do in the order they wish to do it. This creates a need for a second (or third…) round of prioritization. “What-if” forecasting offers the ability to take a select group of projects with immediate start dates and resource them. It also includes a sandbox to plan your projects and see the impact to resources as scenarios change without ever altering your real data. This visibility allows management to decide which projects to delay and which to speed up to ensure that resources are being used most effectively.
By implementing effective time tracking that is intuitive and user-friendly, organizations can obtain a realistic picture of how long tasks and projects really take. After all, even the most productive worker is going to have their day interrupted by emergency meetings, new problems only they can fix, or the annoying realization that the approach they’d planned to take simply isn’t going to work. Visibility into how much time a particular task or project took in the past enables managers to ground their forecasting in reality.
That’s why a good time reporting system must be able to:
- Capture all time spent working on planned projects and administrative activities as well as unplanned activities
- Report the actual time spent on a project compared to the planned allocation
- Offer automated time reporting solutions
Overly-optimistic forecasting is just another form of dreaded over-allocation. Intuitive, user-friendly time tracking gives organizations the concrete data they need to avoid this forecasting pitfall.
Reporting and dashboards
All of this planning, prioritizing, forecasting, assigning, and time keeping leads to reporting. A resource management software should have a robust reporting and analytics suite. Leadership and executives need to have confidence in the data, and that data must tell the story of your success. By creating Excel-like reports and charts comparing planned, actuals, and capacity, leaders can get a quick picture of the success of their initiatives and the engagement of their people.
With a reporting suite like Insight+ from Tempus Resource, you can customize interactive dashboards for each team and leader. This predictive analytic engine gives users the capability to visualize, report, and drive decisions based on real-time data.
When you need to see who is equipped to excel and bring value to a task, skills and competency management is an absolute must. Powerful resource management software delivers insight into resources that go beyond their job description. And the best way to gather this insight is to allow employees to enter it themselves. For example, Tempus Resource’s central resource catalog can be configured to allow end users to manage their own skills matrix and includes competency ratings that enable organizations to identify gaps across the enterprise.
The right software also allows you to see the skills necessary to resource work both now and in the future. Long-term visibility gives managers the opportunity to approach existing staff about upskilling rather than suddenly finding themselves short-staffed and needing to put in an urgent new-hire request. Upskilling is a great way to improve your resource pool while also encouraging agility. Plus, this kind of career progression leads to greater fulfillment, ultimately increasing productivity and reducing turnover.
Investing in the right software
By now, you’ve hopefully realized that Excel falls woefully short of harnessing the true power of resource management. But if you invest in software that doesn’t provide the right data, functionality, or features, you might not be much better off.