Resource Forecasting

Your guide to mastering resource forecasting

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If you like watching war movies, you will notice that the first thing a commanding officer asks when requested to send soldiers on a mission is "how many men do you need?"

Not how many guns, how much ammunition, or how much time it will take to accomplish the operation.

The first question is always about how many people are needed to get the job done.

Somehow, project managers have pretty much the same visceral reaction when asked to put together a project team.

How many people do we need? What kind of skills are required? Who’s available to work on it? Do we have enough people on board or do we need to hire freelancers?

When you need to put together an A-Team, resource forecasting will help you lock and load.

What is resource forecasting and why is it important?

Resource forecasting is the process of ensuring that you have the right people with the right skills to satisfy the requirements of future projects.

If you can accurately estimate your future resource requirements today, you are in a better position to guarantee a resource pool whose numbers and skills are proportionate to the expected workload.

Typically done at the initial phase of a project, resource forecasting is vital in laying down the groundwork for successful project planning.

When forecasting is done, both current and historical data are studied to arrive at a fair estimate of how many people should comprise the team and what skill sets are needed for them to deliver the highest quality of work within the allocated budget and schedule, and to keep up with the client’s constantly evolving needs.

Estimating your resources with precision is vital to project success. Insufficient resources can result in stressful working conditions that often lead to burnout and frustration among team members. On the other hand, if you resource too much, your members may lose motivation because of the huge time gaps to fill.

The essential goal of resource forecasting is to make sure that team members are neither overworked nor under-utilized.

And as technology trends advance in leaps and bounds, data derived from resource forecasting will help you determine how well your team will fare in future engagements with the present skill sets they have. Knowing this will influence imminent decisions on retaining, hiring, or downsizing. It can also provide valuable insights on how you can help your company adapt to future market trends by training or retraining your workforce.

Resource forecasting in the new normal

Especially in these days when remote work has become commonplace, a good resource management system is one that enables the company to successfully conduct resource forecasting and planning in a manner that continues to maximize the utilization of every available project resource. These days, aside from considering the usual factors like availability, preference, and skill sets, you also have to keep in mind the different geographical locations and time zones where your project team will be working from.

All these, while making sure that you are shepherding your distributed human resources towards a collective goal of productivity and profitability.

It’s a tall order even for the best and most experienced project managers. With so many moving parts, predicting future needs can be a formidable challenge. This is where a dedicated resource management software can save you not only time and effort, but also your sanity.

By using one comprehensive and powerful solution, you can make your forecasts faster, more accurate, and less complicated – helping project leaders cope and keep in step with the prevailing work-from-home scenario.

With a resource management software, project managers will be able to allocate resources more efficiently, obtain greater visibility and sound data for analyzing resource demand and capacity, and forecast resource needs with greater accuracy, making sure that the right people with the right skills will be assigned to future projects.

Level up your forecasting with resource management software

There is only one question that you should ask yourself when adopting a resource management system for your business: Does it work for you?

It doesn’t matter whether you are using a basic spreadsheet or a cutting-edge automated solution. At the end of the day, the tools you use should enable your organization to help you calculate and plan the resources you need to deliver a project as efficiently and effectively as possible.

While manual and legacy tools can work for smaller companies with less complicated ventures, these tools are not primed for scalability. The more you grow, the more you need a system that will support expansion and keep you afloat, not leave you drowning in a sea of spreadsheets and incongruent sources of data.

Whatever client market you’re dealing with, professional service organizations largely rely on projects to keep their business running. An effective resource forecasting tool can help you estimate revenue by generating data-rich reports on upcoming projects and their respective resource needs by giving you an overview of your organizational capacity in real time. This way, you can deploy and manage your workforce strategically to prevent overbooking, reduce downtime and improve utilization.

If you try to search for "resource management software" online, you will be swamped with innumerable options with varying levels of functionality, complexity, and price points. If you are new to this and need references, there are just as many software reviews and feedback that you can use to evaluate and narrow down your choices until you find the perfect match. Many developers also offer free trials so you can experience their products first-hand and see if they correspond to the needs of your organization.

At the end of the day, go back to the beginning and ask that question – does it work for you?

Who’s on first?

In reality, no one has the time to test each and every resource management product on the market. Unless you are a tech reviewer and that’s what you do for a living. Having said that, let’s take a look at an award-winning solution that tops the list of the 10 Best Resource Management Software & Tools of 2020.

Mavenlink receives top marks for being “a comprehensive project and resource management software that’s designed to integrate easily with other tools.”

A well-rounded tool that bridges project planning, execution, project accounting, and analysis systems in a single operating environment, Mavenlink allows you to plan and schedule your resources with agility. Unlock your business potential with modules for resource scheduling, resource management, resource planning, team collaboration, and business intelligence – all on a straightforward, centralized platform that tracks information in real time.

The resource management module offers real-time utilization and margins down to the level of project tasks. Other key features include resource forecasting, capacity planning, skills management, scenario planning, and role-based planning, as well as a wide selection of accounting tools for project costing, budget management, invoicing, rate cards, and robust integrations into back-end financial systems.

And if you’re not ready to let go of your favorite apps and tools just yet, you can easily connect them via Mavenlink’s M-Bridge, which allows integration with leading cloud-based CRM, ERP, and document-collaboration solutions.

How can Mavenlink help your resource forecasting needs?

Take a cue from TribalScale, a global software firm that creates digital solutions for web, mobile, and emerging technologies to transform clients into digital-first companies.

As the company began providing services for more types of technology from different delivery centers, their team began encountering difficulties in forecasting and predicting resource requirements. In addition, managers were using homegrown tools to manually create and assign allocations while ramping up new team members.

"As we grew the company, we built an internal allocations tool to figure out project assignments and help us with forecasting. However, as we scaled, that process began to break quickly. We wanted to make more data-driven decisions and model around our resources and forecast, so we started investigating other tools and came across Mavenlink," recounts TribalScale’s chief product officer Mitch Seguin.

With data-driven forecasting, automated workflows, optimized workforce, and detailed financial insights, TribalScale was able to leverage a resource management ally that has become a trusted source of data and is able accommodate their continued expansion.

"Mavenlink is enabling us to redistribute allocations more broadly to more people, which is giving product managers the ability to get the right resources on projects," adds Mitch, "who sees Mavenlink growing with their company in the years to come."

"Through demos, we could see that Mavenlink would grow with us over time. That matches our culture and we can see that the software will only keep getting stronger."

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