Resource planning

When Excel spreadsheets fall short in resource planning

Many organisations still use Excel templates for project resourcing, which is not the best means when considering the amount of effort and work that must be put to compile an overall picture from the separate Excels. Though, Excel is an easy option to turn to when the organisation’s “official resourcing tool” gives a headache, frustrates and makes you lose your nerves. Understandably, it is easy to create your own resourcing template which you can modify accordingly and start making resource allocation plans. Excel being familiar and trustworthy, will help you in your resourcing agony. From the viewpoint of a single resource manager or a project manager it works out well but from the whole organisation’s viewpoint it is not so simple. How to get an overall picture of all the resource allocations? Resourcing with Excel spreadsheets leaves many questions open and cultivates different needs. In addition, the task to compile all these spreadsheets is like a heavy workout without proper gears.

”Not responding.” - Excel spreadsheet

Why consider getting rid of the resourcing Excel spreadsheets? Here are a few of our and our customers’ remarks from three different angles: dissemination, forecasting and tool.

Resourcing with Excel

  1. Distribution of the resource information is through email, Google Sheets and meetings.
  2. Making future allocation plans is based on resourcing Excels that someone has manually compiled together.
  3. There might be several resourcing Excels and updating and administration can be hard. Depending on the location of the Excels, also availability to the spreadsheets can be difficult at times.

Resourcing with Silverbucket

  1. Up-to-date information is always available for users without a time delay.
  2. Forecasting is easier when the system shows all allocation plans that are also updated in real-time as the data is edited or changed.
  3. All the data is in one place so all the changes are visible right away. Making changes to plans is made easy for the user, which contributes to the motivation to update the plans.
Excel is a versatile tool which can suit well for resource allocation management of small companies. When the number of projects and people increase, Excel is not always the best solution for project resourcing.

Resource Management with Excels

  1. How to get the latest and updated resourcing information with Excels? There are many attempts and solutions of how to bring Excels up-to-date and within everyone’s reach. Usually the drill is that first the “Excel God” brings all the data together to get the overall view and then the data is distributed to others through email, weekly meetings or Google Sheets. All means above sound feasible but the execution just doesn’t work in a long run. How often has the most recent resource information been available for you when you needed it the most?
  2. Forecasting and making future resource plans is also not the most convenient with Excels. Can you and are you willing to make resource plans for upcoming projects and prospect projects? Is the overall resource situation data available and can you trust in it? If you can get at least occasionally the truly up-to-date information about the resource allocations, forecasting and updating resource plans is remarkably easier and you don’t have to use your second sense. Though, there is a high risk that you have based your decisions on dated information.
  3. ”Not responding.” Just when you have updated your resource plan and are about to update the file, Excel starts showing its unattractive side by not responding to your attempt to update. In worst case, your whole computer freezes and you must reboot it. Sounds familiar? Or you need a specific Excel spreadsheet but it is out of your reach. And when you finally have it, you realise that it is dated.  

Resource Management with Silverbucket

  1. The up-to-date resource information is distributed effortlessly in Silverbucket as the data is available for the users regardless of their location or computer that they use. It is up to the client that who can log in to Silverbucket. Depending on the user rights, a user can see at least his/her own resource allocations in projects, project managers can update their resource plans easily and top management can see the overall situation based on the real-time information. In meetings, it is possible to view the resource data and make required updates and changes right away.
  2. It is possible to make resource allocations for a long period ahead, which has a notable impact on improving the forecasting. It is easy to monitor whether the capacity is fully utilised or not and are all skill needs covered.
  3. Silverbucket is delivered as a cloud service which makes it easy to get hold with the resource data. You only need an internet connection and a computer (or a mobile device). Making resource allocation plans is not dependant on your location so you can make resource planning anywhere. Silverbucket gets lots of compliments and one of the pro is that you don’t have to think anymore whether the resource plans and data are dated or not and whether you can trust in them. Resource planning becomes more straightforward.

In the first paragraph we mentioned few good points about Excels in resource planning. But honestly, Excels are not the most suitable for managing the overall picture of resource management especially when there are a lot of people and projects. There are few key points that should be considered when thinking of managing project resource plans in Excels. Who will compile all the data from the Excels into an overall view? How critical is to get the latest and updated resource information for finding the right resource for projects and data for the big picture? How would a proper tool contribute to managing and revising the resource plans and which other benefits are possible?

Silverbucket alone of course won’t make everything better because a new tool requires always some extra effort and time to make the new procedure become part of the project management culture. Based on the feedback that we’ve heard, we recommend discussing and evaluating whether Excel is the most reasonable option or should you explore different resource management tools and study the benefits that they offer.

Read more about Silverbucket’s resource planning tool here.

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