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5 Easy-to-Use Resource Planning Tools

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/24/2013

This article looks at five of the best, easy-to-use tools for resource planning.

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    Managing resources and planning resources are two of the more complex functions project managers are expected to perform. Because of this, any tools available that can facilitate resource planning are a project manager’s gold. Below is a list of six easy-to-use tools for resource planning.

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    Microsoft Excel

    Microsoft Excel is often overlooked, but in this program, you can keep track of who is working what hours and what they are working on during those hours. It can also help you to identify who will be needed in the future to help get the project completed in a timely manner. It is also likely to be a program used by project managers who do not have a lot of resources to keep track of and add to a project.

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    Microsoft Office Outlook

    This is another tool that can be used for small projects. Invite potential resources to mail you their calendars and you can integrate their calendars with yours to easily set up a schedule for your project. Like Excel, Outlook has its limitations – namely, that it doesn’t work so well for large projects or multiple projects.

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    Microsoft Project

    This program is all encompassing, making it easy to integrate all of the functions project managers require from planning software.One of the features Project 2010 does best is to keep track of resources and to plan resources within your project. Because there is no shortage of books or articles written on Microsoft Project, assistance is often not very far away. Integration with Excel and Outlook is seamless with this software.Thus, all three programs can be used together to create a “super-tool” for resource planning.

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    VIP Task Manager

    Picture courtesy of Stock.xchng VIP Task Manager is a resource planning tool that also performs functions like action item tracking and facilitating communication between project managers and human resources. The program is almost exclusively devoted to resource planning, giving it an advantage over the Microsoft Office Suite. It is available for $299.75 for a 5-user license. If you have a small project that has outgrown Excel and Outlook, but isn’t big enough for Project, this software may be just your ticket.

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    Accolade's Resource Planning Software

    Accolade boasts that its resource planning software is simple to use and will save you and your company time and money.Their website also includes an easy-to-use resource planning template for you to try. The program offers real-time project monitoring, and has built in features to help you to avoid overallocation when in the resource planning phase.