Published on 4 February 2013
On the best of days, resource scheduling using spreadsheets can be a painful and time-consuming affair. This is because it involves multiple tasks and headaches from wrestling with pivot tables and inscrutable formulas in Excel to finding out scheduling conflicts for your resources. To top it all off, there are very few solutions in the market that are exclusively focused on scheduling.
Resource Guru's roots lie in divine prophecy. Andrew Rogoff and Percy Stilwell, veterans of digital marketing and founders of the solution, met holy man SaaS Devi (immortalized in their logo) while hiking the mountains of Unkulunkulu, where the creator God of the Zulu people resides. "As a guru, there is not much that SaaS Devi does not know," says Stilwell. So, they mentioned their resource scheduling problem to him. As it turned out, SaaS had already dreamed up a solution years ago. He gave them blueprints of the solution to translate his vision into reality. Like dutiful seekers of wisdom, Stilwell and Rogoff discussed and filled in the blanks to SaaS Devi's blueprint. Finally, they launched the solution last year.
Stilwell says these are early days for the solution. "Resource Guru was designed for scheduling teams but with enough flexibility for it to be beneficial to a wide variety of industry types and sizes," he says. "To date we've had creative agencies, engineering firms, film productions houses, universities, news corporations and many more."
Resource Guru, according to Stillwell, specifically replaces the resource scheduling spreadsheet. Unruly and unwieldy spreadsheets, as I mentioned earlier, can be the bane of large organizations. "Resource Guru aims to retain the simplicity of spreadsheets and do all the heavy-lifting required, so that resources are freed up to get on with the task of being productive," he says. According to Stillwell, the application is "way more powerful" than a spreadsheet and has the ability to generate new business insights using powerful reports.
In addition the solution combines useful features with the benefits of being in the cloud. "We have had feedback from users, where they have commented on the niche we are occupying, offering functionality which the typical task-based collaborative project management tools don't, at a price which is far more attractive than those commanded by large ERP systems and without the bloated complexity they typically engender," he says.
At the heart of Resource Guru's utility lies the Booking section. Users can book resources for projects based on their availability. Typically, resources are used to denote people working on a project. However, within Resource Guru's context, resources can be anything used to accomplish project goals. For example, you can also book conference call lines, meeting rooms, and vehicles using the solution. You can also create custom fields for your resources (eg Location, Skills, Department etc) and filter bookings by these attributes.
The dashboard, currently, is uncluttered and displays a daily and weekly view of resource availability and projects, including waiting lists associated with each parameter. Projects, clients and resources can be color-coded and you can view bookings colored by client, project or booker.
Perhaps, the main reason I like the solution is because it empowers employees. It enables them to take ownership of their schedules and, consequently, free themselves up for productivity. "As users, everyone can start taking responsibility for their time and keep track of what they are supposed to be working on," he says. Thus, instead of having an endless email chain or phone conversation, the solution is a quick-and-easy way to see resource availability. Its simplicity further lends credence to the solution.
Similarly, introducing greater complexity in projects will help users identify projects with cost- and resource constraints or projects with skills deficit but Stilwell assures me this is in the pipeline.
As I mentioned earlier, the solution's simplicity is one of its most attractive features. `Resource Guru has an extremely simple interface and is designed to get you up and running, as quickly as possible. A similar approach has been adopted for the dashboard page, which is minus clutter but is packed with lots of useful information. Data entry of the solution takes place through forms, which do not span more than two screens and can be customized under the Settings menu. SaaS Devi makes an appearance here as well.
He is present on each page offering words of wisdom to motivate you on.
Resource Guru has a comprehensive database that consists of multiple topics pertaining to the solution. In addition, they offer email support.
When I asked Stilwell about the best way for small businesses to use the solution, he said: by signing up and giving it a try. "I think Resource Guru is most effective when you invite resources to the solution," he says. In that vein, consider this view my invitation for you to try out resource scheduling with Resource Guru. You will not regret it!