Running a business is challenging. Irrespective of what service or product you provide, there's just too much to track. But thanks to modern technologies, there are now advanced tools to effectively and conveniently manage business processes, including resource planning.
For most businesses and their resource managers, things start to get confusing with all the different types of resource-related tools and solutions now available in the market. For instance, there are now Resource Management Software (RMS), Project Management Software (PMS), and Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP) solutions.
All of these different software solutions work differently, have different goals, and use different technologies. But present them together at once, and most businesses that have not used them in the past would find it difficult to select one that best suits their requirements. Understanding the difference between them is the key to making the right selection.
The term Resource Management Software is part of the confusion. An RMS could be better defined as a resource capacity planning software like eRS . It is one of the many different types of tools now available for managing projects and resources.
It can be used for planning, allocating, and tracking the human resources, what projects they are working on, scheduling future tasks, and the duration for which the resources work on a particular project or task.
With the help of RMS, it is easier for human resources and project managers to track the overall resource capacity of an organization, the available skills, and then schedule the same as per the project requirements. Most RMS solutions also come with advanced reporting features to not just show historical but also forecast of resource utilization.
While RMS solution is mostly focused on resources, a PMS solution is all about team collaboration and meeting project deadlines. It is with the help of a PMS solution that project managers can ensure that their projects are completed within a set deadline and budget.
In other words, a PMS solution makes it easier for the project managers to manage their projects throughout their lifecycle, right from their initiation to completion. PMS solutions are also referred to as Project Portfolio Management (PPM) or Task Management Software (TMS).
With more and more projects, especially in the IT industry, completing past their deadline and going over budget, a PMS is a smart solution for businesses to better manage their projects, timelines, and budget. The product also comes in very handy for businesses that generally deal with multiple vendors for completing their projects.
The easiest way to understand ERP system is to think of it as a combination of RMS, PMS, and a host of other software solutions that are used to manage all the different business processes, like human resources, supply chain, manufacturing, procurement, finance, CRM, and others.
ERP solutions help businesses automate and integrate the core business processes of an organization, enabling them to focus more on business goals. Some of the top ERP systems also come with synchronized reporting features for improved decision-making.
The ultimate goal of an ERP system is to help businesses build a single shared database that could support various functions essential to all the different business units. For instance, employees from different departments, like sales and accounting, would have access to a single database that they can use as and when required.
As you can see, while the end-goal of all these three enterprise solutions is different, there is a lot of overlap between their functionality and features. Thus, to make a decision, an organization should primarily focus on what their business requirements are.
For instance, resource management is all about achieving optimal resource utilization. RMS is a staff-centric solution to help an organization make the best use of the available resources.
Project planning, on the other hand, is having a detailed valuation of project objectives, breaking the project into multiple smaller tasks, deploying resources, and then tracking the execution. A PMS considers the resources as a medium for reaching the end goal that is project completion.
Enterprise resource planning shares similar characteristics with resource management and project planning but takes them a significant step forward through integration. The goal here is to integrate multiple platforms and add more transparency to all the different business process while also ensuring that every team member has access to the same information.
ERP systems treat business processes as a medium for completing projects and achieving business objectives.
So, the selection between the three depends on what a business is aiming to achieve. Businesses aiming for improved resource utilization can consider RMS. Organizations wanting to improve their project performance can look for PMS. And organizations that want to better integrate the business processes and aiming for overall business growth can achieve these goals with an ERP system.
All these different enterprise solutions come with a host of benefits, but a business should first thoroughly understand the type of benefits that would best help their organization. Also, note that understanding the kind of enterprise solution that is the best fit for your organization is only one half of the battle. The other half is to choose a particular product.
With so many different types of RMS, PMS, and ERP solutions now available in the market, selecting the best for your organization is not always easy. This is especially true if you are about to purchase one such solution for the first time.
Here are a few tips that could help-
The first step to select the best RMS, PMS, or ERP solution is to clearly assess your requirements. For instance, you can focus on things like- Why does your business need this enterprise solution? What are the features that you want in your product? Do you have any existing software or solution that you want to integrate with the new product? What is your budget?
Honest answers to these questions should add a lot of clarity to what you should be looking for when you are out browsing through the options. Also, make sure that you also include the upper management in the decision-making process so that even they can provide their inputs and are aware of new developments.
Irrespective of whether you want an RMS, PMS, or ERP system, it will mostly need some amount of configuration to effectively suit your custom business requirements. But know that systems that are highly customized don't just cost more initially but also have higher maintenance and upgradation costs.
This is a critical consideration for any organization that has unique requirements. They should try to mainstream these unique requirements to avoid high customization costs. Readymade solutions might not be readily flexible to your current business process, but they cost less and are more stable.
Without measuring, it'll mostly be impossible to achieve the benefits that your organization wants to accomplish with this new system. For instance, most organizations consider ERP systems for reducing costs, increasing revenues, or accommodate their growth. The expected benefits from a particular system should be measured against such metrics while browsing through the products.
This will enable you to select a product that not just promises but actually has the potential to deliver the expected benefits.
The majority of the RMS, PMS, and ERP solutions now come with a free trial. Organizations should consider subscribing to the trial of at least a few top solutions to get the first-hand experience of how the system functions. Based on the factors listed above and the trial experience, a business can then make the right selection.
Have you found the right RMS, PMS, or ERP solution for your business? What was the selection process like? Do share your recommendations and experience in the comments section below.