You've realised that your company has finite resources and effective management of those resources is the key to running a successful business. Resource management impacts project performance, employee well-being , and much more. You're ready to invest in a resource allocation software but are left wondering, "How do I find the right software for my business?"
We understand that the decision to purchase software that matches your needs isn't easy. It's also a major investment in terms of time, money, and effort. We're here to help you research and finalise the best software for your business or project.
A smart strategy to go about this purchase is to have a few key questions lined up. However, too many questions can also muddy the waters and extend your research time frame. Below are nine of the most important questions you should ask before buying a resource allocation software.
Here's a quick refresher.
A resource planning software is a platform that helps organisations plan, schedule, and monitor their resources (employees) to their maximum efficiency. It also gives insight into who is available and highlights their field of expertise, cost/billing rate, and work preference.
A resource management software reduces reliance on archaic tools like Excel sheets and paper. With this software, everyone is notified of their schedule immediately and changes can be made.
The software also reduces scheduling errors that result from stagnant or inaccurate data like double booking, overloading resources, shortage of employees.
The short answer is yes. While a lot of ERP (enterprise resource platforms) have resource management capabilities, the features are limited. A dedicated resource scheduling software not only provides complete access to employees and their details and work preferences, it also does the following:
Automates process of matching the right resources to tasks
Updates project status in real-time
Provides reports on resource utilisation and capacity
Allows you to build resource forecast models
Presents insights on employee satisfaction and wellbeing
Helps you manage varying shift schedules
Tracks project and resource financial performance
Enables upper management to take strategic decisions on hiring, training, and budget
Aids prioritisation of tasks and projects in a manner that's most cost-friendly
Creates transparency and collaboration within organisation
Want to learn more about what a resource allocation software can do for your organisation? Our guides on cost savings , diversity and inclusion management, and productivity provide insightful tips and details that are applicable to a variety of organisations and industries.
Making the right choice for your company doesn't have to be complicated. Whether you are a small business looking to replace your manual, paper-based scheduling system or a rapidly growing company that has multiple locations, the questions you need to ask are the same.
The questions below will help you identify the right resource allocation software for your business needs. They will guide you in selecting a solution that will grow with your company and provide both short and long-term returns.
This question should be the starting point of your research journey. Only when you know exactly what you are looking for will you be able to identify what's best for your business. But, this can be both simple and tricky and requires a lot of discussion and thinking on your end. A few guiding criteria that can help you understand usage are:
Scheduling features — do you need a software that will help you identify talent and scheduling them only? Or do you require tracking functions too?
Do you require a software that allows you to make changes to schedules?
Who is required to view the schedules and change data?
Do you need forecasting capabilities?
Are you required to split shifts?
What are the financial reports that you need?
Do you require a single software for all of your locations? Or just a department?
Do you need a platform that highlights errors like double-booking or overtime/over utilisation?
While this seems fairly simple, it's easier said than done. How easy is the software to use for people who aren't tech-savvy? That should be the starting point of this criteria. How many moving parts are there? Does the software provide drag-and-drop scheduling? Can you accept or change shifts by just clicking a button? How easy is it to download reports and data? Is the platform visually aesthetic?
The software needs to be so simple and intuitive to use that employees are excited to use it. Otherwise, no matter how robust your software is, project managers and employees will go back to their own "trusted" ways of scheduling which might be e-mail chains or spreadsheets. We highly recommend doing a free trial or getting a customised demo to get an accurate grasp on the user experience (UX) and user-friendliness of the software.
One has to look at price points to be able to budget for a software investment. Pricing for softwares can be complicated. For instance, certain platforms price the software as per the number of users while others have a fixed monthly or annual rate and it doesn't matter how many people access it. In addition to identifying the actual cost, it is important to understand the payment terms. Will you be billed before use or after? Can you make the payment in instalments if you don't have the cash reserves available?
Another factor to keep in mind while evaluating pricing schemes is to see if there are any hidden charges. For example, does the provider charge extra for certain features or integrations? Will the monthly or annual subscription renew automatically? What are the charges for late payment? These costs can creep up and increase your budget drastically.
It's one thing if the process to buy the software is great, but another to have an equally effective post-sale service and support. Onboarding, training, and trouble-shooting support of an allocation software are pillars that can make the software a true game changer for your business.
Research the support methods provided (e-mail, phone, or in-person) and what the average turnaround time is for an open ticket. The training and post-sales service will give you insight on the developer's commitment to you — the customer.
Customisation capabilities make it easier to get the software tailored to your business. It also increases the buy-in from different stakeholders. For example, a product manager's project needs and KPIs might be different from an IT manager's project KPIs. They both would like an allocation software that can be tweaked for their needs.
Properly integrating the resource allocation with other systems will increase productivity and efficiency and deliver cost savings. It will also reduce the time spent tracking multiple devices. Some platforms are difficult to integrate with legacy systems or even simple applications like calendar and email; this can limit you from gaining the maximum benefits from the software. Poor integration capabilities will eat into resources as the majority require painful, manual workarounds. This will also decrease the return on investment.
The right data brings control to chaos. And, in order to efficiently manage your resources, you need data in real-time. When you are evaluating softwares, take the following steps to ensure you understand the reporting features:
List out all the data reports the allocation tool is able to provide.
Check the format in which reports are presented. Are the reports provided in easy-to-read, visual graphs or is it provided via downloadable spreadsheets that you will have to analyse? Can you print the reports?
Understand whether you can filter or tweak the data points. Can you customise and set levels on who in the organisation is able to access these critical figures? Also, see if you get a bird's eye view of progress by project or resources?
Ask the software developer whether they have any other features in the making, or a product roadmap for the future. By digging into this, you can understand whether the software has potential longevity. You can also grasp whether you are working with an industry leader.
It's a boon to have a vendor that knows your industry and business model. Ask how many similar customers they have serviced and how they addressed their challenges. This experience will benefit your business because now you don't have to necessarily educate them about your industry or work processes. They might be able to help you improve your workflow from the get-go because of their industry experience.
eResource Scheduler, is an end-to-end enterprise resource management software that is suitable for any organisation and industry type. eRS is invested in your success; we offer a free demo, unlimited customisation options, and prompt troubleshooting. We also boast some of the best integrations so you can be assured that our platform will fit into your existing workflow and systems seamlessly. Over 800 customers have trusted eRS to be their resource scheduling partner, so why don't you give it a shot too?