resource management – selecting a tool the suits our business needs – fall 2015

Towards the end of 2015, I was asked to research a tool that would allow our organization to have a better understanding of where we stand with potential projects and confirmed upcoming projects.  The challenge with this was finding a tool that showed ‘both sides of the coin’ so to speak.  Resource management tools do very well when looking at people and what projects they are working on or have upcoming.  Where they fall short and the requirement for our this project was the flip side; what projects do we currently have and who is assigned to them?

Our line of business is very project centric and, as such, I struggled to find a product that would adequately allow for such variability.  During my research and testing period, I compared approximately 15 different tools and found only one to fit this single requirement.  Some existing tools said they would look toward this feature in the future, while others flat-out declined any request to work toward a much more project focused tool for our use.

After initially testing a few tools, I focused on the one that would most meet our requirement – showing projects to people and fitting people into existing projects. I decided to take it for a test drive before presenting to management and stakeholders where I setup a mock system.  Fortunately, I was able to bulk import our users with a fair amount of ease. Before you say, ” Michael, ‘why didn’t you use LDAP’?”  Sadly, this particular tool does not support LDAP integration; which we all know makes everything a bit more cumbersome.  Manual updates of new employees; exiting employees; yet another password for all to remember, etc certainly does not lend to an easy transition! Over the course of a few days of testing I discovered the tool easy to use. As is in many environments, tool adoption can be a real pain point and if it is not easy to use, I understand that it will not be used.  Once I had this setup complete with users and test projects, I felt comfortable enough to present it to the original management team who initially brought the request my direction.

During our first meeting, I was happy to see that the management team was pleased with the product. At that time, they asked me to continue working with the tool, importing all current projects, assigning employees into appropriate projects and integrate it into our workflow. Many hours later and a few days pass by, I have another meeting with the management team.  At this meeting, it was my goal to showcase the actual use of the tool along with the progress made in the process of updates. It’s one thing to look at something and say it is easy to use, it’s entirely different to actually dive into it and begin using it! At the end of this meeting we agreed that a two month trial would allow for several staff meetings to determine if the solution both viable and routinely useful for those affected by its use.

Good news!! Just this past week (last week in March, 2016) we have decided to expand the usage of our tool to a subsidiary company. Currently we have about 6 administrators utilizing the tool plus 15 team members with access and ability to view. The tool is proving useful in our weekly staffing meetings and has helped with both project forecasting as tracking human resources currently off project and available for another upcoming project.