Tools for Resource Management – The Survey Results


The resource management tools that organizations use should be able to map employee skill and experience to tasks that need to be done, document and track resource assignments, flag risks from over-committed resources, and identify under-utilized ones. The Cognitive Technologies’  2010 resource management survey sought to understand what tools organizations use today to manage their project assets and the degree to which they feel that the tools give them the information needed to plan effectively and make decisions. Our 2010 survey benefited from the responses of 250 individuals representing a broad range of companies and management responsibilities.

To find out what resource management tools were in use across in the organizations surveyed, we provided a checkbox list of 20 common tools from which respondents could select one or multiple tools. Selecting “no tool” or “other” were options. The top ten resource management tools were:

Project Resource Management Tool Frequency
Microsoft Office Excel 160
Microsoft Office Project 157
In-house developed application 93
Microsoft Office Project Server 74
Other 48
Microsoft Office Access 40
Oracle Primavera 24
CA Clarity Project and Portfolio Management Software 19
Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise Applications 17
Hewlett-Packard Project Portfolio Management 11

The tools vary by cost and capability with the higher-end tools running several thousand dollars and the Microsoft tools costing in the hundreds of dollars per user. However, purchase cost does not reflect the total cost, since less expensive tools require more application development time to provide useful resource management information. The biggest difference in capability between the high-end, mature tools and the Microsoft Office-based tools is the ability offered by mature tools to track multiple projects concurrently, maintain information about a centralized pool of resources, and provide information in near real time.

Not surprisingly, companies using mature resource management tools were more likely to report that their tools provide timely and sufficient information. They tracked employee time and project status at a more detailed level than those companies using less mature tools did. They were also more likely to have dedicated resource managers and to employ more standardized resource allocation processes. We also found that companies using sophisticated resource management tools tended to have higher annual revenues, undertake more projects per year, and support a larger project management staff than organizations using less sophisticated tools.

The number of respondents who reported that the tools they use do not provide timely information to support decision-making increased from 33 percent to 45 percent from our 2009 survey. Only 30 percent of the companies used their resource management tools to track employee project time at the task level and 14 percent used a formal process for evaluating resource needs across existing projects. More than half – 70 percent — of the respondents said that their resource management tools were not used to find project resources based on skills and experience. Rather, companies allocated resources in an ad hoc fashion for new projects based on the perceived priority of the project.

Next week, I will offer our thoughts and conclusions gained from correlating several bits of data and discuss challenges the project managers and senior management see in the future of resource management.

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