Resource Management using MS Project, Excel or JIRA : 3 options

There a few different ways of managing resources but I will focus on the methods that I have used. Before we proceed with the actual tools for managing resources it is important to remember that using a method or tool does not guarantee success.

Resource Management 3 Options : MS Project, Excel or JIRA
Resource Management Mantra

The most important aspects of resource management are - coordination
allocation and monitoring.  A resource manager must have all the above qualities.

Coordination is important as you need to keep in touch with the people generating demand and the people who control the supply. Allocation is the way you document the allocations you make. Monitoring is crucial to make sure you know what the resources are doing. 

Try to use your knowledge about your domain to analyse the allocation to see if you should keep either some buffer or overload the resources. 

We will look at 3 different tools for resource management - First, using MS Excel(spreadsheet), using MS Project and using Atlassian JIRA. Depending on your situation you could use only one or a combination of the above methods. I have always used two or more methods.

Option 1 : Resource Management with MS Excel

Excel Based Resource Management
Excel based resource manager

Click here to download the excel template.

Resource management using MS Excel is the simplest of all the options. Please refer the image "Excel based resource manager" which is a sample for arranging the resources.  

With this option you can add multiple tasks to resources. I have done the allocation on weekly basis but you can change it to daily or monthly. The excel view is motivated from MS Project Resource Usage view.

- Easy to use.
- Visually enticing.
- MS Excel is mostly available so need of a separate license.

- Manual process.
- Does not highlight over allocations.
- Reporting needs complex formulas. 
- Needs constant updating to keep it inline with the project schedule.

Option 2: Resource Management with MS Project

MS Project Resource Management
Resource Management with MS Project
This is my favorite option as MS Project has some fascinating features which will allow you  to find out over allocation, availability, leveling etc.

If you use a MasterProjectPlan then you can manage the entire resource pool for your department or company. The Resource Usage view within MS Project provides a very convenient view of how the resources are allocated. You can also filter the resources, apply groups and change the timeline with one click. Please see above a sample of the resource view in MS Project.

- Built-in functionality in MS Project.
- Over allocations and other basic checks are built-in.
- Range of built-in and user defined reports.
- Allocations are generated from tasks so the allocations are always updated.
- Can be exported to MS Excel.

- Needs MS Project skills.
- If the project plans are not properly managed managing the tasks can get complicated.
- MasterProjectPlan tends to be slow at times.

Related Artciles
Using Microsoft Project for Resource Management : 4 reasons you should know

Option 3: Resource Management with Atlassian JIRA

The Atlassian JIRA is a well known bug tracking system. JIRA has come a long way in making its space in the project management and resource management. JIRA consists of projects and resources. You can create issues or tasks in the projects and assign them to resources.  

The issues or tasks can contain test, documents or links. People who work on JIRA issues can log their time against tasks which is one of the key features. 

JIRA by itself is limited when it comes to resource management.  It can be used to manage basic allocations. JIRA has some powerful plugins and gadgets which allow resources to see tasks allocated to them.  You can also define workflows for projects.

- JIRA is an industry standard product for project issue tracking.
- Allows people to log their time.
- Allows workflows customization.
- Canned reports for time sheets.
- A good tool to find out the actual effort spent on a task.

- JIRA has basic functionality for resource management. 
- You will need additional plugins like Tempo Time sheets to do resource management.
- By default does not support scheduling activities with start date and end date. 
- Installation is not standalone and everyone in the team needs to follow standards. 
Needs a dedicated person to manage allocations.
- By default does not track over allocation or date conflicts.

A tool can only act as aide in the whole resource management process. You have to keep in mind that demand will always be more than supply. So, as a resource manager you need to be in touch with your clients who will generate the demand. Your supply will be your team so you need to keep in touch with the team manager or the team.