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How to choose the best resource forecasting software

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By Kerry Leech
Contributor

  • 7 min

Choosing the right software for resource forecasting is a challenge every professional services firm faces. With different options boasting various features and price tags, finding the perfect fit for your company's needs can feel overwhelming.

This article is here to help. We'll guide you through the essential factors to consider, so you can select the software that truly helps your firm thrive without unnecessary complications. It's about understanding your needs, not promoting one solution over another. 

Let's get started. 👇

Understanding your needs

Before you even begin to browse through the resource forecasting software options, a clear picture of what your firm requires is essential. 

Here are three quick steps to take:

1. Identify your requirements

What does your firm truly need from a resource forecasting tool? It's not about the bells and whistles; it's about functionality. Pinpoint the specific demands of your organisation, and you'll have a clear direction.

2. Consider your scalability and flexibility needs

The software you choose today needs to fit tomorrow. Consider how it can grow with your company, adapting to new challenges without causing friction.

3. Check your requirements for integration with existing systems

Ever had technology that just doesn't play well with others? Avoid that headache. Look for software that integrates seamlessly with the tools you already use. 

🔎By taking the time to explore these aspects, you're not just choosing software; you're laying the groundwork for a smoother, more efficient operation. Think of it as building a solid foundation that will support your firm's growth and success for years to come. It's a decision that deserves careful thought, and it all starts with understanding what you need.

Now that you have an idea of what your firm requires, what are the key features to look for? The next section will delve into the attributes that can make or break your selection. 👇

Key resource forecasting features to look for

Selecting the perfect resource forecasting software isn't just about knowing your needs; it's about identifying those vital features that align with your firm's goals. 

Let's delve into these essential features, including a few unique ones provided by Retain, to help guide you through your selection process.

1. Accuracy and reliability

Your forecasts guide your firm's direction. Seek software that delivers precise, dependable results. Consistency is key.

2. User-friendliness

An intuitive interface can ease your team's learning curve. Look for software that simplifies rather than complicates. Tools that feel like a natural transition from Excel can support with user adoption too. 

3. Customisation options

Every firm is unique. The right software should adapt to your needs, offering flexibility to shape itself to your operations.

4. Data Security

Protecting sensitive information is paramount. Ensure that your chosen software adheres to legal standards and guards your data vigilantly.

5. Instant access to project performance

Managing a project's budget is crucial. Tools like Retain’s Timesheets allow resources to log time against projects, calculating billable hours. It's about having the pulse of your projects at your fingertips.

6. Improve data-driven decision-making

Visualising data can aid in spotting trends or bottlenecks. For example, Retain's flexible reports and dashboards, using Microsoft Power BI, put data-driven decisions within easy reach.

7. Forward-looking reporting and analysis

Understanding resourcing and skills trends is essential for future planning. Look for software that offers insights to not only reflect on past performance but to forecast future trends.

🔎By focusing on these features, you align the software's capabilities with your firm's goals. They aren't just about functionality; they're about empowering your team and enhancing your operations.

Resource planning software

(Retain’s cloud-based resource management software is a complete all-in-one solution trusted by the world’s biggest companies)

Next, we'll delve into vendor reputation and support. Choosing a reputable provider ensures your software doesn't just meet today's needs but continues to support your firm's growth and success.👇

Evaluating vendor reputation and support

Now that you've honed in on the features that align with your firm's needs, let's turn our attention to the people behind the software. Because, let's face it, the most promising tool can fall short if it's not backed by a reputable and experienced vendor with robust support.

🟢Vendor reputation: Research the company's history and customer testimonials. Long-standing resource management success and a track record of satisfied clients is a strong indicator of quality. It's not just about the tool itself; it's about the people and experience behind it.

🟢Customer support: Ever felt stranded with a problem and no one to turn to? Effective customer support is your lifeline. Ensure the vendor offers responsive, knowledgeable assistance, ideally tailored to your time zone and language.

🟢Ongoing development and updates: Technology evolves, and so should your software. Look for vendors committed to continuous improvement, regularly rolling out updates and enhancements. Stagnation is not an option in today's fast-paced world.

🟢Training and resources: Initial onboarding can make or break your experience. Opt for vendors offering comprehensive training and resources, helping your team to hit the ground running. It's an investment in success from day one.

🟢Compliance and certification: Ensure the vendor adheres to industry standards and certifications. Compliance isn't just about legality; it's about demonstrating a commitment to excellence and integrity.

🔎Your relationship with the vendor doesn't end with the purchase; it's a partnership that continues throughout the lifecycle of the software. Make sure it's a partnership you can trust.

Up next, we'll look into the often-overlooked aspect of budgeting and return on investment. Understanding the true value of the software goes beyond the price tag.

Budget and Return on Investment

We've explored features, considered vendor reputation, and assessed support. Now, let's talk about something that's often on everyone's mind but can be challenging to navigate: the budget. Investing in resource forecasting software is not just about the upfront cost; it's about understanding the true value and long-term return on investment (ROI).

Calculating ROI

What value will the software bring to your firm? Whether it's time saved, improved accuracy, or increased profitability, understanding the tangible benefits helps you weigh the investment.

Retain offers an ROI calculator to help you discover your company ROI in under 2 minutes. 

💸See how much you could save.

Scalable pricing options

Your firm's needs may change, and the software should adapt. Look for pricing models that allow flexibility as you grow, without hidden fees that can creep up. At Retain, our pricing plans are designed to complement your business and have the flexibility to grow with your team. 

View our pricing plans.

Free trials and demos

Trying before buying can be illuminating. Many vendors offer free trials or demos, providing a hands-on experience to gauge fit and functionality. Don't shy away from test driving. At Retain, we take pride in providing personalised demos.

👉What will be covered in our demo

  • See Retain Resource Scheduling Software in action. Delivered by a Technical expert.
  • Interactive demo, tailored for your company, showcasing how Retain Resource Scheduling tools will transform your resource planning, scheduling and allocation.
  • Speedy onboarding will see you benefit from the power of Retain Resource Scheduling software in less than a week.

🧑‍💻See for yourself.

🔎Understanding the financial aspect of choosing software is not just about cutting costs; it's about making an informed investment that fuels your firm's growth and success. The right choice is not necessarily the cheapest but the one that delivers genuine value over time.

Your guide to choosing the best resource forecasting software

We've looked at the ins and outs of choosing the best resource forecasting software, including features, evaluating vendors, weighing costs, and successful implementation. 

Now, let's reflect on the key points that will guide you to the right decision for your firm:

  • Understand your needs: Every journey begins with knowing your destination. Assess your firm's unique requirements before making a choice during the selection process.
  • Focus on key features: Don't get lost in the bells and whistles. Focus on essential functionalities that align with your goals, including accuracy, customisation, data-driven decision-making, and forward-looking analysis.
  • Evaluate vendor reputation and support: Your chosen vendor is a partner in your success. Ensure they're reliable, committed to ongoing development, and offer responsive support.
  • Consider the full financial picture: Look beyond the price tag. Understand the total cost of ownership and the tangible ROI that the software will bring to your firm.
  • Implement with care: A thoughtful implementation process, complete with training and ongoing support, sets the stage for success. It's about turning potential into performance.
  • Keep a long-term perspective: Your relationship with the software doesn't end with the purchase. Regular assessment, feedback, and adaptability ensure that the tool continues to serve your evolving needs.

The landscape of resource forecasting software is varied, but with this guide to hand, you're well-equipped to navigate it. Make informed, thoughtful decisions, and you'll find the tool that not only fits your firm today but supports your success for years to come.

Here at Retain, we're committed to supporting professional services firms in resource management excellence. 

If you have any questions or need further guidance, don't hesitate to reach out. Or if you’re ready to start demoing tools, why not start with us? Book a demo.

Looking for more resource forecasting insights? 

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