Resource planning is one of the aspects of effective project management. After all, if you want to deliver a successful project, you must allocate resources to your project tasks. But it is easier said than done. Proper resource planning is subject to multiple variables that can exponentially grow depending on your Jira project size and type. Luckily, many great resource management software and tools are available on the market to make resource planning easier. Let’s take a look at some of the best resource planning apps you can get.
What is resource management (and why does it matter)?
Resource management (or resource planning) is the process of utilizing the organization’s resources in the most efficient way. These include, among others, equipment, materials, labor, money, and time. This is a general definition of resource management. Let’s narrow it down to project management.
From the perspective of project management, resource management means planning, tracking, and optimizing the available resources for successful project delivery. Therefore, Project managers need to determine what resources and quantities of each they can and should use to carry out the project activities. At the same time, they should strive not to exceed their resources’ capacities to avoid overwork and burnout.
Sounds like a lot of responsibilities to take care of. And this is precisely when resource management software should step in.
How can resource software help?
Resources are one of the factors that determine the success of a project. No matter how well you have planned your tasks, you will not be able to execute them without the right people available at the right time.
That is why you must account for your resources’ availability, skills, and capacities. It could prove to be especially difficult if you manage large and complex projects with dozens of people involved. Not to mention ever-changing priorities and requirements that lead to tasks and resource juggling.
Resource planning software for project management can help you address these issues by giving you an overview of every resource assigned to your project. It will show you the tasks your resources are assigned to; how many spare (or too many) hours they have in their workload; what skills you can readily allocate and which ones you still need to secure; and much more.
Features to look out for when choosing a resource planning software
Typically, when you intend to invest in anything, you have certain criteria in mind that you want the product or service to meet. The process of choosing the right resource planning tool is no different.
Below, you will find a list of the core aspects we recommend considering when selecting the most suitable application for your needs.
Ease of use and the learning curve
Resource management software, like any other app, is just a tool. And tools are meant to help you achieve a certain goal (perform a job to solve a problem). That is why the software of your choice should be relatively easy to grasp so that it does not become yet another problem itself.
How can you tell if the software is user-friendly? Application elements such as tooltips, dialog boxes, in-app cues, and clean UI are one of the many signs telling you that the software company cares about its users’ success.
Hint: Some software providers offer demo pages where you can test their app without any commitments (no installation, payment, or registration). If there is one, we encourage you to try it and fiddle with the app to get a general feeling of it.
There are many great tools, but there are no perfect tools. That is mainly because your organization and your needs are unique. So it would be virtually impossible to cater to each and every user’s needs. But there is a popular workaround for that in the form of app integrations.
What does app integration mean? It means that you and your team can continue using your favorite tools in tandem with your resource planning tool. It also means that you can add another app to complement the capabilities of the said planning tool.
Resource planning features
Finally, let’s briefly discuss the most important features that help you manage your project resources.
Project scheduling features help you assign the right resources to the tasks. Functionalities like Calendar, Agile board, and Gantt chart visualize entire schedules, dependencies, and tasks. They also allow you and your team members to see who and when is assigned to what task.
Resource availability is never static. You will need to account for people taking sudden and annual leaves; share some of the resources with other projects; and secure niche or high-in-demand skills when they become available. So, to be able to match people and other assets to the respective project activities, you need to have insight into their individual time-off schedules and workload plans.
Resource capacity is the number of work (hours) an individual or team can perform over a certain period. For example, a typical capacity for an Agile team member would be 40 hours per week. Subsequently, you gradually “deplete” their capacity by assigning tasks to people until you hit their maximum workload (per period).
However, you surely do not want to do the arithmetic operations each time you assign a task to ensure you do not under or overallocate any of your resources. Therefore, you may want your resource management software to do the following three things.
First, it should do the simple math for you. Second, indicate the spent and remaining hours for each resource and team. And finally, visualize capacity thresholds so you can immediately see the status without even looking at the numbers.
Analytics and reporting
The reporting features give you insight into the performance of individual teams, team members, skills, or a sum of all of these. You can also use the reporting feature to analyze the work progress to determine potential bottlenecks or underperforming assignees.
Collaboration and view sharing
Collaboration features allow teams or team members to follow their own and each other’s tasks. It will help them anticipate the scope of their work and plan for it. On the other hand, it could also help them to strengthen their teamwork and complete tasks that require the attention of more than one person.
On the other hand, thanks to the collaboration tools, stakeholders who are not part of the project team can see who is working on what and when (or where—in case some work can be carried out only in certain locations).
Top resource management software for effective project management
If you hate managing your resources blind or not fully utilizing them, the following resource management tools will answer your problems. Please note that the software we present here is project management tools meant for project managers—not HR managers and HR professionals. Moreover, you can integrate each tool with Jira to make your project and resource management even more effective.
BigPicture (by Appfire)
As the name suggests, BigPicture provides a coherent and high-level picture of your entire workflow and resources, whether on the project, program, or portfolio level. It perfectly suits Agile, Classic, and Hybrid teams oriented on long-term project planning. BigPicture is a powerful PPM tool that helps Project Managers to fully utilize their resources—regardless of the project size or the management approach.
In the scope of resource management, this resource planning software houses two dedicated features. The first one is a Resource Manager that allows you to look up individual resources in terms of their workload and holiday plans (including absences). It also enables project leaders to import their resources from Jira and manage their skills. Additionally, individual resources can register their absences on their own, which their manager can later automatically (dis)approve.
The second one is a Resources module which is your resource central intelligence unit. It visualizes resource capacities with colors and lets you (re)assign tasks on the fly. The Resources module also features a powerful Scenario mode that enables running what-if scenarios. Thanks to it, users can create and compare different plan variants to find the most optimal one.
- Task allocation and tracking (teams and individuals).
- Automatic absences approval (with Power Scripts).
- Resource availability, capacity, skills, and workload.
- Integration with Tempo, Trello, and Whiteboards.
- Gantt chart, Kanban board, Risk matrix.
- Customizable dashboards and reports.
- Agile and scaled Agile roadmaps.
Not a BigPicture user yet? Start your free 30-day trial today. Or visit our demo page to play with the app straight in your browser — no registration or installation needed.
Activity Timeline (by Reliex)
Activity Timeline for Jira is a robust resource management software, which means you can expect to get a wide range of useful features designed specifically for resource planning. With this app, resources can have their personal workspace, where they can look up their tasks’ progress and updates. The personal space is also a place for logging work time and requesting time off. In turn, the manager can review the work hours their resources have logged and approve the timesheets in a convenient way.
Moreover, the Activity Timeline resource planning tool visualizes processes related to teams and individuals on the dashboard and shows what tasks each project team member is working on and when. The dashboard also helps managers to track project resource capacity and to report on their workflow and availability. They can also use it to assign tasks to multiple resources and manage their time off.
As for the reporting features, users can generate detailed reports on their resources’ workload and schedule. Activity Timeline also features a report that compares project expected results with the actual progress.
- Workflow visualization on the Individual and Team levels.
- Integration with Tempo, BigPicture, and BigGantt.
- Capacity planning and workload management.
- Personal workspace for individual resources.
- Task assignment to multiple resources.
- Capacity and time tracking reports.
- Project progress tracking.
Tempo Planner (by Tempo)
Tempo Planner is the final resource planning software on our list. The app utilizes the Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) rule that weighs the supply and demand against any capacity constraints. This, in turn, enables project leaders to identify potential capacity issues early in the planning process and use their resources more intelligently and effectively.
On top of that, users can filter and save their views to have the data they always need at hand. In particular, they can apply filters to their project resources and to the resources belonging to other projects or teams and filter their views by individuals, teams, and roles.
Furthermore, Tempo Planner users can create repeating and split plans and later display them on Google or MS Office Calendars. And if they want to create multiple holiday schemes for their project plan, the app will ensure they do not overlap—even if the users manage distributed teams and part-time resources.
- Reports based on roles, teams, users, and all available resources.
- Resource availability, capacity, constraints, plans, and statuses.
- Time planning and approval for users from other teams.
- Integration with other Tempo apps and ScriptRunner.
- Multiple holidays & workload schemes.
- Filters by team, role, or user.
- Repeating and split plans.
Sign up for the BigPicture demo to learn more
Join our regular group demo session to see how BigPicture works and ask our product consultants questions. You can also schedule a 1:1 consultation in English or German language.