What is Resource Planning Software?

December 3, 2018

When managing a project, it’s critical to distribute resources and workload intelligently. Without proper resource allocation, projects can quickly get out of control in terms of expense and duration. Fortunately, there are many tools in the market which help companies effectively plan their resources and they are called resource planning software (or system).

Let’s start from the beginning. If you are not familiar with the meaning of ‘resource’, we will help you with a simple definition: a resource is anything that is needed to execute a task or a project – this can be the skill sets of employees, the whole organization’s inventory and facilities or even the adoption of a software. Unfortunately, resources are limited and we must plan their use.

From Excel to Complex Software, From Small Business to Large Enterprises

Almost every company plans its resources, especially when tasks could only be completed by a team of individuals. Small companies use Excel or Google Docs sheets to share and plan data. Sometimes it’s enough for those companies to have regular meetings and use a whiteboard. According to Mavenlink, a provider of resource management solutions, resource planning software is necessary for companies with 15-20 people because at this size it becomes quite difficult to maintain high utilization without the help of technology. Larger companies are mostly driven by different metrics and expected to maintain specific utilization and financial targets. For such companies, professional resource planning software is an absolute necessity.

According to Eurostat, in 2017, the percentage of EU companies using resource planning system ranged from 28 percent for small business to 76 percent for large enterprises. The total percentage of EU enterprises that used ERP software applications reached 34 % in 2017 and this number indicates an increase of 3 percent compared to the situation in 2014. What we can clearly see from the Eurostat numbers is that almost 1 out of 3 European companies use resource planning software and the number of such software adopters is growing over time. So, there is a clear evidence that even more companies want to keep track of their resources and utilize them according to their plans. You may ask: why? And we will remind you the standard explanation of what resource planning is – next to cost estimation, budgeting and control – a part of project cost management.

Resource Planning Process – Not a Simple Bullet List

The name of resource planning software itself dictates the primary and the most important feature of it – planning. Each employee has its own tasks, which match his or her unique skill set and have to be delivered on time. This may look like a simple bullet list, but it is actually a more complex process and when this is done in the right way, resource planning can make our life significantly less stressful. According to Simas Godovan, Product Manager of intelligent business management software MOMook, more than ever before, strategy and planning are integral part of long-term business goals and resource management system could really simplify or facilitate the whole planning process. For this reason, the use of such software continues to grow along with its expanding capabilities and we could only imagine what tasks we will be able to handle in the near future.

However, even now there exist many benefits of resource planning software which help business to maximize its efficiency. With a resource planning software, we can easily project and estimate the overall work hours towards different projects. We can also prevent work overload and always know when our team is capable of taking a new project. By having such information, resource management software allows to assign different people to different projects, book the needed facilities and inventory. Some resource management systems even allow users to download and view real time analytics for all the projects and resources.

When resource planning is visible to everyone in an organisation, it is more likely that employees will enter all the data they are supposed to. Otherwise, each user of the system will see the missing data and can take actions to correct the issue. Furthermore, resource planning system gives an access to each other’s current assignments and makes it easier to schedule the following tasks and projects of the whole team. Apart from the allocation of employees’ responsibility, such a system could also allow estimation of the cost of each project by identifying the number of resources required per project activity. After all, resource planning software helps to avoid bottlenecks or problems before they happen by forseeing and planning them in advance.

Challenges for Resource Planning Software

As with many business technologies, the success of resource planning software highly depends on the skills and experience of the workforce. If a person is not trained or does not have enough experience of working with such a system, we shouldn’t expect positive results too early. The major benefits of having resource planning software are not presented immediately with its implementation, they will be visible long after the software is installed. Company’s organizational culture plays a very significant role here – a company has to involve its staff and anticipate changes properly. However, some resource planning systems might be difficult to use. For this reason, it’s essential to choose a software provider who demonstrates both a user interface and sufficient customer service offerings that meet your business standards.

Another major challenge for a resource planning software could be turnover of the company’s staff. New employees are not trained to manage the system of the employing company and they might propose changes in business practices that are not synchronized within the system. After all, resource planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is a topic that deserves a bit of planning on your part. It is important to analyse whether the resource planning software you want to implement fits your company’s needs and ensure you have a good implementation strategy leading you to success.