Managing your agency or studio resources without resource management software or resource scheduling tools can be a total nightmare. And that’s probably why you’re here. You know there must be a better way to manage your resources and team, right?
Every week you’re busy trying to meet everyone’s crazy resourcing needs. You’ve got the PM’s with their half-baked resource requests, the agency’s management team with conflicting priorities, the primadonna’s who’ll only work on certain clients, and then freelancers too. Trying to get a resource plan into order without some sort of human resource management software is hard enough. Throw into the mix competing projects, insane clients, vacations, and sick leave and you find that getting any work done on schedule begins to get tricky.
Do you need resource management software?
You might be on board with trying to find the best resource management software, but getting buy-in to change the status quo and replace it with resource management software tools or project scheduling software for your agency, team or studio can be tricky.
After all, do you really, really need resource scheduling software or resource management tools? A quick google search for ‘resource scheduling tool excel’ or ‘resource scheduling tools free’ and you’ll find a whole bunch of resource management templates that do the job – well, kind of. Actually, not really. Yes, they’re a free resource management tool, but no, they are not great.
When agencies start, it’s usually with a handful of resources and so there’s no urgent need for resource management or specialist project management software. Usually, everyone simply gets together for a quick huddle, agrees on the resource management priorities, and works out what everyone is going to work on for the day – or if people are feeling really ambitious, for the entire week.
As the agency grows, resource management starts to get really formal and the resource scheduler becomes a whiteboard. Simples, right? Then disaster strikes as someone accidentally wipes the whiteboard clean, or the office grows to the extent that people can’t actually see the whiteboard, and everyone realizes it’s time for more advanced resource management – it’s time to move to the agency gold standard – the infamous resource scheduler of doom – the resource spreadsheet.
Google docs – the free resource scheduler tool
The truth is resource management spreadsheets kind of work. Most agencies are still using them. And suffering for it.
Everyone knows resource management by spreadsheet doesn’t really work. It’s not really cut out for the job. Everything’s a bit of a hack, they’re clunky and they’re horribly prone to errors. Months pass by and still the resourcing spreadsheet somehow just about manages to keep its head above water.
But everyone feels like they’re drowning. Yes, it enables you to keep moving and it kind of works but everyone knows that despite good intention and some fancy formulas, it keeps on slipping under and it’s not really fit for purpose at all. Unless you’ve got the mother of all resource spreadsheets (that I’ve never laid eyes on) it’s missing a few key features and is a disaster waiting to happen.
Resource management software trumps spreadsheets
At a push, your resource management spreadsheet might tell you how under-resourced or under-utilized your teams are, or even include forecasting, but does it include budget tracking, time tracking, project reporting, send staff notifications, help them collaborate or have a built-in process for requesting resources and allocating resources to projects?
And importantly, does it have a change process for when resources get moved around by the resource manager or your rogue project manager colleague? Maybe that’s why no one follows it – it’s considered more of a rough resource management guide than a true resourcing source of truth.
But there’s hope. A growing number of resource management software and resource scheduling software tools have evolved in recent years to fix the problem of the resource management in Excel and actually created something better than the free resource management tools. They’ve made resource management software that works!
The best resource management software & resource scheduling tools
So here are some of the best resource management software tools for agencies and studios if you’re looking for a replacement for your excel sheet and resourcing management doom. They’ve been picked because they’re tools that are trying to do one thing well – resource management. At a minimum to be featured on this list we were looking for tools which had:
- Resource planning, scheduling, and management – putting the right people on the right projects and moving them around easily on a simple, collaborative, calendar grid that’s as simple as working with Excel or Google Sheets
- Clients and project planning – managing client and project details and having a single source of truth to feed all the other features
- Analytics and reporting – giving insight into capacity, utilization and performance for projects, clients and individuals
It’s worth comparing different resource management software tools as they’re set at different price points, different functionality (such as timesheets, expenses, approval workflows, task management), and different 3rd party integrations. In this post, we’ve tried to cover a broad spectrum of resource management software tool price points and functionality. But as much as anything, it’ll come down to your agency or studio resourcing workflow and what functionality you need to make that function better. Have a look and sign up for some trials to test-drive and find the best resource management software tool for your agency or studio.
1. Hub Planner- https://hubplanner.com/
Hub Planner is a new, versatile and quickly evolving online resource scheduling management software tool with powerful resource management features including: different views (by resource, team or project), drag and drop resources, split tasks, scale view, utilization, check budgets, holidays, sick days, iCal integration, and powerful filtering. Beyond the resource scheduling it also helpfully includes timesheets which integration with a powerful approval workflow, and dynamic dashboard and reporting tools so you can keep track of your projects better and establish progress, billability, and profitability at a glance as well as a tasks module to brief your resources.
What’s interesting about Hub Planner is that if you get on board, you get the opportunity to help shape the product roadmap and can even sponsor new features. There’ve taken a modular approach so you have the option to add or remove extensions to the base product such as timesheet approval workflows or tasks so you can increase functionality or turn off bits you don’t need.
They’ve also developed an API which gives access to projects, resources, timesheets, bookings, events, holidays, groups and milestones in case you want to do something fancy with the data. Hub Planner costs from $7/user/month (they offer a 60-day free trial so you can properly test drive it).
2. Resource Guru – http://resourceguruapp.com/
Resource Guru is a veteran in the resource management software world and used by some of the world’s top agencies with some solid resource management features including: visual calendar style interface, custom views, fields and filters, availability indicator, drag and drop resources, scale view, see utilization, reporting, overtime tracking, data import and phone support.
Helpfully Resource Guru tried to make sense of the gong show that can be resource conflict resolution and so resource management and team collaboration is built in to make resource booking more straightforward, with clash management leave management and a waiting list to prevent over-booking. The tool allows Project Managers to make bookings simultaneously with no chance of stepping on each other’s toes. Clashes are automatically prevented.
Helpfully, each staff member gets their own resource dashboard so they can log in and know exactly what they should be working on. And to monitor business performance, powerful reports help identify which projects and clients are being over-serviced and help to monitor team utilization and help with future capacity planning. Resource Guru costs from $2.50/user/month (they offer a 30-day free trial).
3. 10,000ft Plans – https://www.10000ft.com/
10,000ft Plans is a powerful resource management software tool used across a host of different industries including architecture & engineering, design, and of course, marketing & advertising. Their features including: a very simple drag-and-drop interface for resource assignment, powerful project dashboards, simple task management, and easy reporting.
10,000ft has a unique project and resource matching feature which helps match individual resources to the project’s requirements by finding team members according to different criteria like disciplines, skills, availability, or custom options to help you maintain consistency on projects.
With built-in timesheets (and mobile time tracking) as well as expense tracking, you can create rich and complex project reports by filtering and customizing project data with just a few clicks. Reports can give you a look back or forecasted view of things like team utilization, actual vs. planned time reports, budget tracking, expense reports, and projects in the pipeline. 10,000ft costs from $10/user/month (they offer a 30-day free trial and consultation sessions to help see if it’s a good fit).
4. Saviom – http://www.saviom.com
Saviom is a great enterprise grade solution if you’re looking for an intuitive but powerful resource management or workforce planning software and optimization solution. It’s built for enterprise level planning and scheduling with features including: Visual scheduler with multi-dimensional viewing to view/edit your schedule by resource, project, team, location, drag and drop resourcing, resource selection filtering and utilization tools.
In addition to its powerful Gantt chart that allows for intelligent scheduling (i.e. drag and drop bookings), the tool also allows you to make accurate resource forecasting decisions with its powerful reports- including its capacity v. demand and resource utilization report.
The software is user-configurable, allowing it to be scaled and adjusted based on company size and industry, and is also well equipped to integrate with most existing software as well as ERP systems. Perhaps uniquely in the resource management software world, Saviom is not a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution, so you retain full control of the product. It can be hosted on a company server or a cloud server of your choice.
Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Saviom’s clients include some of the world’s largest corporations including: PwC, DHL, Siemens, Fujitsu among others. Saviom provide interactive demos and a free trial.
5. Schedule App – http://scheduleapp.com/
Schedule App is a very simple, pure play resource management tool that’s now totally free! If you’re looking for a free online resourcing tool, that offers the bare bones of functionality, and you primarily work with resourcing your team in half day increments, then this could be the tool for you.
Schedule App is that offers a very simple solution that allows you to add your team’s email address, name, projects, role and assign a project manager so that you manage your team’s allocation. There is no analytics, reporting, or timesheets built in, bare-bonesare bones solution that helpfully sends out emails with the schedule, it’s better than using a spreadsheet. Schedule App is free.
6. Forecast – https://www.forecast.it/
Using artificial intelligence (AI) Forecast is able to aid with scheduling and finding the right people to book on projects and tasks. The AI learns from the work being performed and helps optimize all parts of people, planning and projects.
Forecast is a full resource & project management solution used by agencies and professional service companies all around the world. For resource management and people scheduling you can book people to projects, shuffle around tasks across multiple projects on a single timeline to make sure no one has too little or too much work at any given time; all using drag&drop to make it intuitive and simple to use. Quick booking lets you find the person with the right role and/or skills that is most likely to be available for performing a given task and/or project, so you don’t have to spend time planning, but doing the fun stuff instead.
Timesheets and tracking are built right into the product, and apps for both iOS and Android can be used for planning and working on the go. You can build and filter your own insights and safely share with clients and stakeholders. These enable you to see things such as real-time utilization, compare actual vs scheduled utilization, tracking project progress, profitability, budgets etc. very simply.
Deep integrations make Forecast the ideal resource planning tool for JIRA, and other products listed in Forecast’s extensive app catalog. Forecast has a free plan, as well as professional and enterprise plans that cost from $19/user/month (they offer a 14-day free trial).
7. Hansoft – http://www.hansoft.com
Hansoft is not your traditional resource management software as its core is from agile and value flow-oriented ways of working. However, it gives you a complete overview when your resources are distributed cross-projects easily so this is more of a value add and new take on resource management. It has complete scheduling capabilities in gantt, agile or kanban, provides time reporting, flexibility in terms of hierarchy, columns and workflows and drag-and-drop friendly.
Hansoft will not automatically resolve any scheduling conflicts for you, but gives you the visibility so that you can make decisions on how to best handle each conflict. There are powerful reports and dashboards that can be setup yourself without requiring any technical knowledge. In this way you get the metrics that you need rather than having them pre-defined by the software.
The software is free for up to 9 users – beyond that costs it $28/user/month. (You probably won’t need many users – you can add ‘ghost users’ for your resources if you do not need them to login to the system and update the plans in realtime).
8. Allocate HQ – http://www.allocatehq.com/
Allocate HQ is a simple, pure play resource management software tool used for scheduling people, events and things across industries including pharmaceuticals, law, architecture and of course software development and agencies with features including: click and drag resource assignment, different views, utilization, and filtering. Allocate HQ costs from $1.90/user/month (they offer a 30-day free trial).
9. Ganttic – http://www.ganttic.com/
Ganttic is a powerful, pure play resource management software tool that’s been used across of host of different industries for resource management in professional services, software development, design studios and even manufacturing with features including: click and drag resource assignment, different views, live updates, utilization, holidays, sick days, and powerful filtering. drag and drop tasks, recurring tasks, Google calendar sync and resourcing history.
Ganttic has some interesting features that demonstrate an understanding of some of the complexities of resourcing including the ability to schedule concurrent tasks by scheduling %’s as well as a feature which allows you to add dependencies to tasks so when the critical path gets moved, all the resources get moved with it.
Ganttic has some useful reporting (which automated reporting built in) for utilization and capacity planning. Using reports, you can have an overview of all the tasks, track budget, calculate the difference between the task duration and used time and calculate the utilization percentage using the tasks you have set for that resource for the time period you have selected on the timeline. Ganttic is aggressively priced, and costs from $1.25/user/month (they offer a 14-day free trial).
10. Mavenlink – https://www.mavenlink.com/
Mavenlink isn’t a pure play resourcing software solution – it’s more project management software with an add-on for resourcing with features which include: resource assignment, allocation, quick resource switching, resource management (task & project level), with real-time availability forecasting, and resource shaping.
If you need a tool that helps to assign resources, Mavenlink has an interesting resource shaping tool – this functionality makes it easy to define a resource’s workweek and apply hours automatically with the ability to front load on a week, distribute evenly, back load or consume a set amount.
With timesheets built in, you can see real-time utilization reports and compare actual vs scheduled utilization very simply, as well as filter by role, project or date range and keep track of billable vs non-billable hours. If you’re in the market for a project management tool with project management, accounting, business intel and team collaboration, as well as a powerful resourcing scheduling add-on, and are interested in integrating directly with other tools via their API, then it might be worth the extra cost – from $49/user/month (they offer a 10-day free trial).
11. Harvest Forecast – https://www.getharvest.com/forecast
Harvest is a well established time tracking tool used by Amazon, Kiva, and they recently released Harvest Forecast, a way to schedule your team across projects with features including: click and drag resource assignment, different views, utilization, holidays, sick days, and powerful filtering.
If you’re not familiar with Harvest – a time tracking tool, which you have to pay for separately, it’s one of the key reasons to choose Forecast; the ability to tie together Harvest’s features of time tracking, expenses, invoicing and powerful 3rd party tool integrations and an API, together with resourcing and forecasting is a powerful combination.
Combining timesheets and resourcing gives you the full picture of your projects of what you did and what you will do. With the built-in reporting tools you can see your project health in real-time with visual updates on estimate vs actuals and projections. Harvest costs $5/user/month (and they offer a free 30-day trial).
12. Traffic Live – http://trafficlive.com/
TrafficLive is part of the Deltek product suite which is a PPM (project and portfolio management) tool with features including: a simple drag and drop interface for resource assignment, different views, powerful project dashboards, task notes, and powerful filtering.
Being tied in with estimating and finance systems, TrafficLive is a great tool to use for addressing over-servicing and avoiding scope creep. You can use the tool to estimate accurately – create a quote and then easily convert it to a job and you have the benefit of being able to trust your data because it’s current and constantly updated, and always in real-time.
With one integrated system, you can simplify and consolidate your data through one project management platform, sync to Google/Microsoft Outlook calendars, integrate with accounting software, and gain a complete agency view including past, current and future work, allowing you to stay on top of the ‘pulse’ of your agency with real-time reporting and dashboards.
Other resource management software tools
None of the above work for you? Check out the list below for additional project resource management software tools:
- Teamdeck – https://teamdeck.io/
- Workstack – https://workstack.io/
- Workamajig – https://www.workamajig.com/
- NetSuite OpenAir – http://www.openair.com/
- Visual Planning – http://www.visual-planning.com/en/
- eResource Scheduler – https://www.eresourcescheduler.com/
- ProjectorPSA – https://www.projectorpsa.com/psa-software/resource-scheduling
- Teambook – http://www.teambookapp.com/
- Workbook – http://workbook.net/
- Float – https://www.float.com/
- Team Gantt – https://www.teamgantt.com
- Teamweek – https://teamweek.com/
What do you think?
What do you think we’re missing? What other resource management software tools or resource scheduling software have you found that we don’t know about? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any suggestions, tips or thoughts on using this kind of software – why not share them using the comments below?