What is resource management software?

Resource management software describes the digital tools used to allocate, assign, and track employees, finances, and equipment across projects.

Most modern business projects require a range of different resources to reach completion. And perhaps the most vital of those resources are the human resources. Full-time, part-time, and contracted employees are the lifeblood of most business organizations, connecting with customers, accomplishing specialized tasks, and contributing to strategic decisions. Unfortunately, employees, along with their time and ability, are finite resources. And at any given moment, any individual employee can only be in one place, working on one task, and applying his or her skills in a way that furthers one project. Other finite resources, such as equipment, workspace, and capital, are likewise limited by availability.

Resource management software addresses this issue by empowering businesses to plan, track, and optimize how resources are being used. Resource management software supports resource management by simplifying many of the processes involved.

Resource management is an umbrella term referring to the various processes and initiatives aimed at optimizing the way organizations deploy and control their resources.

A ‘resource’ is any cost that can pertain to the effort of completing a project. A form of project management, resource management considers all different kinds of resources, including tangible resources (such as materials, equipment, and budgets), intangible resources (such as time and skill), and human resources.

Resource management involves taking inventory of available resources, scheduling or rescheduling start and end dates for resource use, managing resource-related conflicts or dependencies, monitoring resource usage and need over time, and using data-backed insight to make adjustments where needed.

Resource management software offers additional support and tools to help optimize resource management processes. With resource management software, organizations have the opportunity to place resource usage under a microscope, analyzing resource demand and capacity, and more effectively and efficiently allocating resources throughout the enterprise. As such, resource management software provides companies with a number of important benefits:

Decreased downtime

Without the right resources at the right time, projects grind down to a halt. Resource management software ensures that every project has what it needs to move forward, even when multiple projects are dependent on the same resources. This keeps things running, eliminates costly and wasteful downtime, and allows teams and departments to produce more.

Improved matching of resources and requirements

Resource management software can keep track of various resource attributes, such as skills, availability, cost, etc. Then, as projects arise, it assists by matching the most-appropriate, best-suited resources to meet the project requirements.

Reduced overbooking

When resources are shared across multiple projects and departments, overbooking can become a major problem. Resource management software helps prevent conflicts that arise when multiple project managers book resources simultaneously. In the event that a resource is requested for more than one project, that request may be added to a waiting list and compared against established project priorities.

More-accurate hiring decisions

Resource management software excels at providing organizations with a detailed view of project needs and resource availability. This information may be applied to hiring decisions, allowing employers to more clearly define what they are looking for, and bring on the candidates that are best suited to filling resource needs.

Clearer grasp of budgetary needs

Project requirements tracked by resource management software include budgetary requirements. Project leaders can more clearly see their projects’ financial limits, and understand well in advance whether they will need to request more budget, and when.

To be effective, resource management software must unite processes with technology and automation solutions. With the right resource management solution, organizations are able to plan, schedule, deploy, and monitor resources of all kinds in a way that eliminates downtime, maximizes resource availability and utilization, and takes into account key factors such as skills, location, preferences, and more.

That said, resource management software may not be a fire-and-forget solution. Here, we highlight several best practices to help businesses get the most out of their resource management software:

Graphic outlining the different techniques for effective resource management.

Create a comprehensive resource plan

Managing resources means fully understanding what resources are needed, which are available, and which may be difficult—or even untenable—to acquire. In terms of human resources who may have high demand and limited availability, work with the employees in question and their team leaders to plan around their schedules. Resource plans should also quantify resources, taking into account the expected effort they will invest and the value they will bring to the table. Finally, build a working project schedule so that everyone involved will know what resources are needed, when, and for how long.

Create a system for prioritizing work

Not every task within a project has the same level of importance or urgency; effectively categorizing or prioritizing work that depends on shared resources can help ensure that valuable resources are not being used beyond their capacity. Work with all stakeholders to create a system for evaluating work well in advance, so that priorities are clearly established to help facilitate objective decision making.

Approach resource management as an on-going process

Any project that depends on limited, finite resources is unlikely to see completion without experiencing some form of conflict. But while unexpected changes and emergent events may strain the project, they can be remediated through on-going cooperation. Work together across teams and departments to address conflicts as they arise, and refer back often to established priorities to keep the most-vital projects from losing momentum.

Apply automation wherever possible

Resources, particularly human resources, can only do so much at any given time. Technology, on the other hand, isn’t nearly so limited. Automation solutions can support limited resources by managing essential, repetitive, time-consuming tasks. This frees up resources to accomplish more with less, and to apply their expertise on non-automatable tasks.

Simplify time tracking and reporting

Tracking and reporting time may not seem vitally important to project completion. It is, however, an important part of assessing trends and planning for future projects. Help ensure that time is being tracked accurately without pulling focus away from top project priorities, by establishing simple, easy-to-use time reporting processes. Additionally, ensure that non-project time (administrative time, paid time off, etc.) is also accounted for, both in planning and reporting.

Limit parallel tasks

Although it may be tempting to try to get resources to perform multiple tasks at once, multitasking almost always results in a drop in work quality and an increase in errors. When managing resources, avoid parallel assignments, and allow valuable resources to be applied to only one project or task at a time.

ServiceNow Project Portfolio Management (PPM) provides essential resource management software solutions, allowing organizations of all sizes and across all industries to more effectively plan for, deploy, and monitor vital project resources. Built on the Now Platform, and acting as a single source of truth for managing a company’s resource needs, PPM provides unmatched visibility and control. Apply resource management solutions during the demand stage to understand what the estimated costs are before the demand is approved. Then, continually revise resource management into and throughout the execution stage, with real-time data insights and budget actuals.

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