Software tools help companies effectively plan resources. Software has included everything from spreadsheets and homegrown applications to commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products. Spreadsheets require manual data updates, so teams who start on spreadsheets tend to look for more powerful software later on. More powerful software may include collaboration, information-sharing, reporting, and utilization tools that replace processes that would otherwise become bulky and time-consuming in spreadsheets. Spreadsheet updates also include greater risk of human error, redundant work, file overwrites, multiple versioning, and more. Some companies build proprietary solutions to plan resources. These are great for teams who want exact control over resource-planning preferences. However, they come with some downsides. Proprietary solutions may cost more to maintain, as well as to build custom integrations with other software solutions.
After development, homegrown applications must be maintained, enhanced, hosted, and eventually replaced. Many creative and professional services organizations are not equipped or inclined to build software themselves. For them, a COTS solution may be best. COTS resource planning software is widely available in many forms. It can be traditional software (i.e., installed locally or hosted on a server) or it can be subscription-based (often referred to as Software as a Service or SaaS) and live in the cloud. SaaS resource planning software is now extremely popular for several reasons, including lower upfront costs, less maintenance, and regular software updates.
Common resource planning software capabilities include these:
- Resource Planning (by individual or role)
- Resource Scheduling (at the project or task level)
- Utilization Reporting
- Resource Availability Forecasting
- Resource Auditing
- Resource Discovery