When managing resources, meaning people, materials, equipment, knowledge, and time, project managers often want to pull out their hair. Not only are many resources nuanced and cross-dependent, but in the case of people (and yes, I know team members hate to be called “resources”), they are also unpredictable.
What makes matters worse is that project expectations are not always fully fleshed out by the target beginning date, so project managers have to juggle unknowns with all the other volatile resources.
In other words: project management resource allocation stinks–and reporting based off this faulty data doesn’t make it much better.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with faulty project management resource planning, allocation, and reporting–and promises for “easy” solutions rarely fall into place.
Good resource management requires good project management. There’s no way around it. Luckily there are some tricks of the trade that can make project resource planning go a whole lot smoother. To start, get project management software with resource allocation functionality.
If you’re planning on doing resource allocation by hand, you’re not going to get very far. In fact, even if you’re relying on Excel to try to organize your work, you’re going to get overwhelmed with redundant data entry, mixed spreadsheets, and a painful number of separate sheets.
I recommend investing in project management software for resource allocation to avoid these errors. Personally, I like the following ten programs because of their specific emphasis on resource management within the discipline of project management. These software options don’t skimp on resource management with clunky calendar systems that are prone to user error. These software options are different enough that they can’t be compared side-by-side, so they are listed in alphabetical order.
Clarizen is a standout project management program that fulfills all enterprise project management-level needs. Their resource management feature allows project managers to run through “what-if” scenarios with varying resource supplies and priorities.
Price: Starts at $30 per user per month.
ConceptDraw Project is a Gantt chart-based PM software option with teeth. As its name alludes, this visual project management tool is like Excel on steroids, with quick and easy reporting options built into simple one-click tabs. Project managers can assign resources (aka team members) new projects right from the Gantt chart view and can quickly tweak their implementation percentage all on the same page.
Price: Starts at $199 per license and decreases with the number of users.
Ganttic is another Gantt-based PM software option, but this one was built around resources themselves.
From their website:
Resources are the core of Ganttic. Easily found on the left side of the planner, they could be your team, rooms, equipments, vehicles, or anything that you use repeatedly for your business. In Ganttic, you can group your resources according to their roles, skills and more.
Ganttic also has an easy-to-follow aesthetic that lends to a quick learning curve and beautiful reports.
Price: Ganttic is free for up to ten resources. The next level offers up to 20 resources for $25 per month or $250 per year.
Mavenlink is a gorgeous PM solution that was named one of the best Microsoft Project alternatives.
Mavenlink offers “master planning,” which enables project managers to forecast for future resource needs and view productivity numbers per resource. The system also lets all project managers know which resource is working on what, so there isn’t any overbooking or over planning.
Price: Starts at $19 a month for up to five users.
Want a simple drag-and-drop resource allocation system? Look no further than Project Insight. The software is built to make resource management simple: it suggests available resources based on workload and skill set, offers mass allocation, and easily allows project managers to switch resources between tasks.
Price: Not readily available; between $2,500 and $25,000 per year based on subscription choices.
RationalPlan bills itself as both a project management software and a work management software (which, let’s be honest, should be one and the same if resource allocation is done right). RationalPlan allows project managers to break down projected costs per task, offers resource redistribution if one resource is overbooked, and manages resources across multiple projects.
Price: Starts at $98 per license.
If you’re more interested in a calendar-based software option, Replicon gives project managers just the bird’s-eye-view that they need. This SaaS option provides project managers with all the charts and reporting they need to know what resources they have used, are using, and will need all in the click of a button.
Price: By quote only
TenRox is a great choice for project managers looking for Microsoft Project integration. TenRox allows project managers to view their projects at the microscopic level, letting them see where their resources are, based not just on skill level, but on physical location and capacity level. TenRox also offers forecasting, giving project managers insight into future employment and budget needs.
Price: By quote only; generally between $6 to $40 per user, per month.
WorkOtter is an incredible project portfolio management software option meant for enterprise companies. It offers “supply and demand” reporting, where project managers across teams can bid on resources and view reports on the most-wanted resources. The software also offers beautiful HTML5 reports and flexible resource forecasting.
Price: Starts at $10 per user per month.
Workfront is a phenomenal option for marketing teams that want to keep all their resources and tasks in check. Because marketing teams often have to balance ad hoc requests with ongoing projects, Workfront helps team members prioritize while also giving project managers the ability to realistically forecast workloads in ongoing projects.
Price: Starts at $360 per user per year.
Are there other standout project management systems with resource management options? Have you used any of the options listed here? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.