Ask anyone involved in resource management about the shifts in the last several years, and you’ll hear stories of talent shortages, rising churn rates, flexible working challenges, new global talent pools, and increased distributed working.
Plus, the environment we’re all working in is extremely unpredictable, making it feel impossible to plan and adapt to peaks and troughs in customer demand.🤯
The way people work has changed... a lot. This makes everything to do with resource planning more complex—leading to sub-par utilisation and project performance.
In a lot of ways, Retain’s decades-long journey mirrors the evolution of resource management itself, marked by robust innovation, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the industry's needs. So, to help you (and your organisation) understand more, we’ve put together this guide—including insight from our leaders.
First, a look at the early days of resource management
In the early days, resource management was a very different landscape. People worked in predictable ways, at an assigned desk in the office from 9-5. Employees stayed in roles for longer. And workers had clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
This stability made resource planning relatively straightforward. Tasks and client requests were predictable and easily assignable, fitting neatly into the well-established roles of the workforce.
If you needed a senior auditor for a 3-week project, you could just pop over to Peter’s desk and assign him to a project. You might use a printed sheet or a simple Excel spreadsheet on your desktop PC to keep track of the work.
When it came to technology, highly manual processes, pen and paper, and very basic spreadsheets reigned supreme. But they reflected an environment where changes were less frequent and the scope of work was relatively stable.
However, time wasn’t tracked, overall and billable utilisation was impossible to define, and organisations were leaving a lot of profit on the table.
So while the resource planning environment was a lot simpler, resources still weren’t managed very efficiently—planners were grappling with the limitations of paper-based systems, long-winded manual work, and disconnected legacy systems.
Enter Retain: From its inception in 1992, Retain recognised these challenges as opportunities to simplify and solve.
“We began with a clear vision: to transform resource management from a tedious, error-prone task into a streamlined, efficient process,” said Rahat Ahmed.
But Retain's initial strategy was not just about providing a digital alternative; it was about rethinking the very approach to resource management; “We focused on user-friendly interfaces, intuitive workflows, and integrating systems to transform resource planning from manual guesswork into a seamless and highly automated process.”
This forward-thinking approach set the stage for Retain's evolution and established them as a company committed to simplifying the complexities of resource management.
The shift towards technology-driven resource planning solutions
Over the last decade, the resource management industry has seen significant transformation. From AI to analytics, the shift towards automation is helping resource planners to break free from labour-intensive traditional confines with the support of technology.
Rahat explains how Retain has continually been at the forefront of this shift; “We were quick to understand that the future of resource management lay in leveraging technology to its fullest potential.”
“Recognising the limitations of traditional methods, Retain began integrating advanced resource planning, utilisation, and forecasting features into its offerings, setting a new standard in the industry.”
In fact, Retain's journey has been marked by significant technological milestones. Every core product update wasn’t just an enhancement, but revolutionary changes. These updates included the automation of complex tasks like resource forecasting, real-time insights, advanced reporting and analysis, and predictive insights.
But Retain's approach went beyond just adapting technology; “Our aim has always been to redefine how resource management is perceived and executed,” said Rahat.
This philosophy is deeply embedded in Retain's ethos. From the outset, the focus has been on empowering resource and project managers, ensuring that technology serves as an enabler rather than an end in itself.
Retain understands that at the heart of effective resource management lies the skill and insight of the resource manager. Their solutions are designed not to replace but to enhance these human capabilities.
Rahat said; “Retain's tools are intuitive and user-centric, designed to provide resource managers with comprehensive insights, yet remain accessible and easy to navigate. This balance is key. It's about offering sophisticated technology that doesn't overwhelm but rather simplifies decision-making processes.”
“The aim is to free up resource managers from the tedium of manual processes, allowing them to focus on strategic aspects like workforce optimisation, talent development, and predictive planning.” Similarly, Retain places a strong emphasis on adaptability and customisation, “We know each organisation has its unique set of challenges and needs. That’s why our solutions are not ‘one-size-fits-all’ but can be customised to fit the specific context of each client.”
In essence, Retain's commitment has always been about supporting the people behind the resources – the managers who strategise, plan, and execute. Their technology is a means to empower these professionals, ensuring that resource management is not just efficient but also strategically impactful and aligned with the broader goals of the organisation and its people.
It’s why Retain was trusted early on by the Big Four accounting firms—among others—on a global scale.
Embracing AI in resource management and advanced analytics
The most recent chapter in the evolution of resource management has seen the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is about intelligent resource planning, where data is not only gathered but also intelligently analysed to inform strategic decisions.
Rahat says it best: “The challenge is no longer gathering data, but what to do with the vast amount of information flowing into the business 24/7. Retain has been a key player in this transformative phase. We haven’t just adapted to the trend of AI in resource planning; we have actively shaped it,”
Retain’s 2023 1.17 update introduced features like AI and machine learning algorithms, and advanced data processing capabilities. These advancements enabled businesses to anticipate trends, identify opportunities, and make data-driven decisions with a level of precision that was previously unattainable. (More on this here.)
But as Rahat points out, these updates weren’t just adaptations to the way the industry is headed; “Retain’s approach to AI is led by a deep understanding of our clients' evolving needs, backed by more than 30 years of experience. We recognised that in a world inundated with data, the real competitive advantage lay in better analysing and using that data effectively.”
Their innovative solutions turned resource management into a proactive, rather than reactive, practice.
“Retain continually pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with technology in resource management. Take our recent 1.17 update; we didn’t just implement AI in resource management, we solved the ‘black box’ issue too. This means AI doesn’t just make more intelligent decisions, it becomes explainable backed by reasoning too.”
A modern resource planning scenario
Let’s put this into perspective with a modern resource planning scenario; Shannon, a resource manager at a growing consulting firm, faces a complex challenge. She needs to assign a team for a new, high-priority project requiring diverse expertise, including a senior auditor, a data analyst, and a project manager, each with specific skill sets and availability constraints.
In the past, this would have involved manually checking individual schedules, qualifications, and project histories, then using Excel formulas to work out basic utilisation percentages — a time-consuming and error-prone process. But with a solution like Retain, Shannon's approach is entirely different.
She logs into Retain’s intuitive platform, where AI-powered skills matching immediately presents her with optimal staffing options based on skills, availability, and past project performance. The platform’s predictive analytics also shows their utilisation capacity, hours worked on similar clients, and more.
Shannon quickly reviews the proposed team members, noting that the system has identified a perfect match for the senior auditor role — not just based on availability, but also considering the individual’s expertise in the project's specific sector and with similar clients.
For the data analyst position, the system recommends a talented mid-level professional ready for upskilling, aligning with the firm's talent development goals. Additionally, the platform highlights potential alternatives prioritised by suitability and availability.
Shannon makes a few adjustments based on her knowledge of the team's dynamics, an element that the technology complements but does not replace.
With a few clicks, Shannon finalises the team, and the system automatically updates schedules and notifies the relevant team members. What would have taken hours, or even days, in the past, takes a fraction of the time, with greater accuracy and strategic foresight.
👉This scenario demonstrates how Retain has transformed resource management. It’s no longer just about filling slots on a schedule; it’s about strategic decision-making, empowering resource managers like Shannon to build effective teams quickly and confidently, ensuring the best outcomes for their projects and people.
Retain today: the most experienced leader in resource management
Backed by 30 years of innovation and adaptation, Retain has cemented its position as the most experienced and knowledgeable leader in this field. And it’s this depth of understanding, over years of pioneering work, that sets them apart in a marketplace crowded with newer competitors.
Rahat says it best; “Retain's current status in the resource management industry is not just a result of our longevity but a testament to our continuous evolution.”
“Even as the industry has grown and changed, Retain has remained committed to innovation that supports, instead of replacing resource and project managers. And we ensure our solutions consistently lead the way in terms of functionality, efficiency, and sophistication.”
The value of Retain’s solutions in today’s market is immense. They offer an unmatched blend of experience, cloud and on-premise solutions, and predictive capabilities. Benefits that have practical, tangible impacts on their clients' businesses.
Retain’s tools help organisations optimise their resources, anticipate market trends, and make strategic decisions based on robust data analytics.
“What truly sets Retain apart today is not just advanced technology (like AI and advanced resource forecasting) but our commitment to understanding and meeting ever-evolving client needs. The impact we want to make is to arm resource and project managers with the tools to do their jobs smarter not harder.”
This client-centric approach ensures solutions are not just advanced but also relevant and user-friendly.
In an industry that continues to evolve at a rapid pace, Retain's combination of experience, innovation, and client focus positions them uniquely as a trusted advisor and a leader in resource management solutions.
Setting the benchmark for modern resource management
From the early days of manual processes to the cutting-edge era of AI and advanced analytics, Retain has not just witnessed the evolution of this field; they have actively shaped it.
As we look to the future, Retain’s role in the industry is more vital than ever. With a legacy of robust solutions and a clear vision for what lies ahead, they are well-equipped to continue guiding businesses through the complexities of modern resource management.
For those keen to stay ahead of the latest in resource management, we invite you to join our community.👇