Every business needs some sort of resource management to succeed. Every single business. Although resource management is seen as something that only the biggest enterprises need, it's not true. Smaller teams just opt to resource planning methods that aren't seen as resource planning. The reason why every organization needs resource planning is simple - every organization needs to make sure that they are using their resources as efficiently as possible to meet their goals. Since large organizations have a lot of resources, they tend to use several resource management methods from high-level project resource management to detailed scheduling while smaller teams can suffice with the latter.

Resource management definition

Resource management is the process of planning, scheduling or booking the resources of an organization in a way that would maximize the efficiency of the use of these resources. The resources can be people, equipment, machinery, vehicles, rooms, assets, tools, etc. But in some scenarios, it's also financial resources or goods.

A form of resource management has existed since the first human-like creatures started to walk on the face of the Earth. It started out with human resource management. Someone had to hunt, someone had to gather berries and mushrooms, someone had to take care of the children. All of the someones were resources. The resources managed themselves based on gender and age. 

If we fast forward a bit, we get to the time where the resources couldn't manage themselves anymore and someone had to use some sort of tool to do it. 

There were meeting rooms with simple oblong tables with chairs around it. There were whiteboards with schedules drawn on them. Schedules that weren't flexible in any imaginable way. Schedules that were shared during a meeting by looking at the whiteboard. Schedules that visualized resource allocation and thus still made it easier to understand who's doing what and what's where.

And then (with no to some historical accuracy), there came the era of Excel spreadsheets and downloadable resource management templates. Resources. Timelines. Some flexibility. In some ways all the flexibility. Maybe even too much flexibility. Getting stuck in the technicalities and endless email threads. And yet, still, it was possible to understand who's doing what and what's where. 

While both whiteboards and spreadsheets are until now being used and useful for many, they do have their cons. Both of them can generate quite a bit of frustration. This frustration coupled with the need for efficiency is what resource management software is born of. 

Resource management software definition

Resource management software is the kind of system that allows the process of planning scheduling or booking the resources of an organization in a way that would maximize the efficiency of the use of these resources.

There are different resource management tools out there and there are different types of resource management. The tools that work the best for high-level resource management are the tools that feature Gantt charts. The systems are usually built using four elements: a column for resources, a timeline for Gantt charts, the Gantt charts, and a list of projects. These elements can be used to visualize bookings and to collaborate on creating the bookings. 

Project resource management tools like Asana work the best for team management since they feature many options to create your own schedule and plan the work in a much more detailed manner. While these tools also create a space for collaboration, it's the collaboration in the classic sense where people come together to finish a project.

Here, we'll try to paint a clear picture of what's what in high-level resource management, and we are going to use the examples of engineering and consultancies to do so.

High-level resource management for engineering

Let's say you are a project portfolio manager in an engineering company that provides various services to monitor and inspect infrastructure. A part of your job is to make sure that the resources of the company are allocated with the maximal possible efficiency. When the company wins another project proposal, you make there would be enough specialists with the right skills. 

high level resource management for engineering

You also make sure that the necessary equipment would available and make a note of it if it's under maintenance. You keep track of project progress. You are probably frustrated with a clunky ERP that doesn't have a visual planning feature and that one project manager that always fails to get their resource needs to you on time.

You don't go into the details, that's someone else's job. You just make sure that those other people would have enough resources to plan the detailed assignments.

However, you still need a planner that would be customizable to a great extent. You need to add custom data to your resources, bookings, and projects. All the skills of the resources need to be mapped out for you to find them when scheduling. The different phases for different projects need to be added for you to keep an eye on the project progress. You need a way to indicate who's the project manager for the project. You need various Gantt chart coloring options to make the schedules easier to grasp.

The projects that you plan aren't really complex (at least not for you) and sometimes you use the option to book a piece of equipment and the responsible technician using one booking. You don't plan any dependencies since it's only logical that the equipment should be out of maintenance before it can be sent to another site, etc. 

If you'd work for a large consultancy, you'd face a planning situation that's close to that. 

High-level resource management for consultancies

If you'd work in a large consultancy, there would probably be a number of offices in a number of locations providing different services to different clients (audit & assurance, taxes, business advisory, building businesses). You'd schedule exclusively people instead of keeping track of people and equipment. 

high level resource planning for consultancies

You'd need the resource management software for both planning and forecasting. A software that's would feature Gantt charts to mark on the timeline where the resource is booked. You wouldn't bother yourself with adding custom data to the booking or even a title for that matter. You would be estimating how long providing the service should take and then booking the necessary resources with that time.

Since the organization you work for provides various consulting services, you'd have added custom data to your resources to identify and group them. You have added their location and department, competence, position, and hourly rates. You'd be using this information to create different views of your resource allocation to make the general resource plan manageable. You'd have a view for each department and location. You'd like the fact that you can allocate resources to a project in a view for that project without the additional noise.

Similarly to an engineering project portfolio manager, you'd like to add project related custom data. You'd want to indicate the responsible project manager. You'd also need to indicate the project status but there wouldn't be any complex phases. 

If the sales team makes a proposal for a client, your job would be to forecast the resource availability by booking the necessary resources at the right time to see how the project fits the rest of the portfolio. Since the services your company would provide are often needed in intervals and not continuously, you move on the timeline to schedule the tasks. 

You'd appreciate a resource management software that's easy to use on a day-to-day basis but is still customizable and flexible.

Both scenarios are examples of high-level resource management. A part of both is making sure that the resource schedule is up-to-date. Both demand the manager to continuously find new ways to make the resource management process more efficient and the company more profitable. Both can be done using a resource management software like Ganttic.