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Libby Marks

5 Retain Alternatives for Resource Planning with Better UI/UX

Retain’s resource planning interface getting old? Here are five Retain alternatives for powerful, intuitive, and beautiful resource management.

Looking for an alternative to Retain resource planning software? Retain is a powerful resource management tool, used by major consulting firms. But after twenty years it’s starting to show its age. If you’re looking for a Retain alternative with better UX/UI, we have five of the best for you to try.

Do looks really matter in resource management software? 

‘It's not something that affects the product but the aesthetic of the wallchart seems very outdated and could do with a new look,’ says Zehra, reviewing Retain on Capterra.

We all know looks aren’t everything. But there’s a strong business case for software that’s functional and beautiful. Because when it comes to user adoption and engagement, a pleasing user interface is more than just a pretty face. 

A strong UI wins hearts and minds, encouraging colleagues to use your chosen software, even when they’re jaded by the myriad of other tools they have to use. Whereas unattractive, unintuitive software is a hard sell. Even the most powerful tool in the world will fall short if no one wants to use it.

‘Using Retain is like going to the dentist. You know you have to but you’re not excited about it,’ quips Eric, reviewing Retain on Capterra. 

Plus, a well-designed user interface can hint at something more than skin-deep. A thoughtfully crafted UI shows the vendor really cares about the customer experience. And that can translate into a strong user experience overall.  

A good UX means intuitive functionality and a shorter learning curve. 

Which means faster onboarding, higher engagement, lower support needs, and faster time to ROI. And isn’t that why you decided to implement the software in the first place…?

‘Our organization uses only the basic functions of Retain Planner. This is partly because the users aren't interested in the additional features. However, it could be argued that if the intermediate/advanced features were more intuitive and easier to use, the users may be more inclined to try them out,’ says Eugene, reviewing Retain on Capterra.

Call us nerds if you will. But we think you should be excited by your resource planning software. After all, you’ll spend a lot of time in there. With that in mind, here are five Retain alternatives for powerful - beautiful - resource management.

What is Retain resource planning software?

Retain is resource planning software. Like all of the solutions in this article, it saves professional service firms time and money by improving how they schedule their staff. 

Retain has been in the market since 1992 and - to give it its due - many users love it. ‘I use it every day. It helps me plan my team resources effectively and provides me with the capacity planning required to make recruitment and priority decisions,’ says Jason. 

But in our experience, the same can be said of any resource planning tool. Once you discover dedicated resource management software, it’s a glass-shatter moment. You realize you’ve been managing your resources wrong all this time. And you’re delighted to have found a way that’s faster, easier, and more accurate. 

‘Before Retain, we used an excel tracker for staffing. Everyone entered this information differently, which posed issues for accurate reporting. Retain [...] is now serving as the main tool in our workflow planning meetings, enabling myself and management to make staffing decisions based on live and accurate data,’ says Tanya, articulating the a-ha moment of discovering resource management software.

If you compare resource management software on features and benefits, you’ll find they’re broadly similar. Like Retain, all of the tools below provide

  • an effective way to allocate the right resources to the right projects
  • data to understand resource utilization and manage workload
  • time tracking for accurate billing and future forecasts
  • reporting to help you plan capacity and recruit in a timely manner

Which brings us back to our main question. If the substance is the same, why not choose a little style to go with it…?

Five best Retain alternatives

1) Runn - The Retain alternative you’ll love to use

Whether you have 5 or 5000+ employees to manage, Runn is a cloud-based resource management platform that combines style and substance. 

Boasting an outstanding UI/UX, it’s designed for project-based businesses that have outgrown Excel and other makeshift resource management tools. If your professional services firm wants to maximize resource allocation and ROI - and reduce the time it takes to do it - Runn offers a suite of intuitive features.

A centralized resource calendar that shows all available resources - plus their skill set and seniority, billable cost, capacity, utilization, and availability - so you can easily select and schedule the perfect person for every project. 

Runn - retain alternative

See resource availability plotted against project schedules to determine the best people to allocate to avoid resource clashes, overutilization, and other risks to delivery. Then simply drag and drop your chosen resources into your project plan to allocate them to tasks.

The project management module lets PMs easily build project plans, including accurately forecasting their budget and schedule. 

Once a project is underway, at-a-glance and in-depth reporting helps PMs monitor progress against projections, empowering them to take corrective action if needed - ultimately contributing to higher profitability and customer satisfaction. (Runn also integrates with time tracking and project management software like Workflow Max, Clockify and Harvest). 

‘Runn is great at providing a projection of what the billings of a professional services organization will be in months to come. It's an essential part of running an effective business, which isn't as commonplace as it should be!’ says Sam, CEO of a computer software firm, reviewing Runn on Capterra.  

Powerful reporting functionality also supports strategy and senior decision-making with accurate and timely data. Group capacity and utilization stats can guide recruitment to ensure you have the right skills for your future pipeline and plans. Whilst scenario planning helps compare different combinations of projects to decide the most profitable ones to onboard.

2) Float - The Retain alternative for creative teams

Float is a well-established and respected resource management platform used by creative agencies and studios. Aimed at teams of 5 to 500, it helps organize creative workflows and bring structure to projects.

Float provides powerful features for resource management, making it an ideal business management tool for professional services. You can easily schedule and allocate resources, plus see your team’s capacity and utilization at a glance to optimize assigned work. 

Float has a great UI/UX - the intuitive interface makes it easy to use, and it has great editing tools and drag-and-drop features. After all, your software is meant to simplify processes, not complicate them.

‘Float is a product I like using, and I wish some of its features and UX elements were in the other software that I use! We use Synergist for job and project management, but Float for scheduling because its UX is so much better’ says Aidan, reviewing Float on Capterra. 

As with Runn, you can complete project retrospectives, comparing your projected costs and schedule to what actually happened. Armed with that information, you can improve your resource forecasting for future projects, leading to more accurate client quotes and fewer project overruns. 

You can also connect Float with project management software, calendar, and communication workflows via direct integrations.

3. Teamdeck - The Retain alternative for smaller businesses

Like Float, Teamdeck resource management software is aimed at small teams and businesses. It provides an easy-to-use, all-in-one solution to oversee your project portfolio.  

As with all the platforms in our resource management tool round-up, functionality includes resource scheduling, project planning, timesheets, budgets, utilization, and capacity planning. 

Teamdeck provides both a bird’s eye view and granular control over resource management, without overwhelming users with too many features or too much complexity.

‘We needed a simple tool that is easy to use that showed utilization at an individual resource level so that we could understand where we have capacity. Teamdeck does all of that for us. It's very easy to use and set up. As a user I am not overwhelmed by unnecessary features,’ says David on Capterra.  

The Calendar view provides PMs with an overview of resource allocations, availability, and how people are spending their time. This makes it easy to allocate resources to project tasks, prevents over- or under-utilization of resources, and balances team workload.  

Teamdeck also provides tools to forecast, monitor and manage budget and schedule - so PMs can keep projects profitable - while timesheet functionality makes it quick and easy to create accurate client invoices.  

Customer reviews are split on the UI - some love it, some hate it - but we think it’s a definite improvement on Retain.  

4) Mosaic - The AI-powered Retain alternative

Like Runn, Mosaic is a cloud-based resource management platform that centralizes your people and project data. It provides a single system to view, allocate and manage all of your team members. So you can maximise resource utilization, keep plans on track, and guide projects to profitable delivery.  

Unlike some of the other resource planning software here, Mosaic uses AI to accelerate your resource management. It automatically identifies people that could be the right fit for your projects, based on availability, capacity, and skills. 

Using information gathered from timesheets, the AI can also predict how long future projects might take  and suggest schedules. (Whilst Mosaic’s AI makes planning and allocation faster, some reviewers highlight issues around syncing and speed when managing a large number of projects.) 

It also lets you know when it might be time to hire new staff, based on capacity and role demand. We have to admit that’s a nifty feature!

Beyond the use of AI, Mosaic has the features you’d expect from quality resource management software, including drag-and-drop resource allocation, real-time reporting, staff skill profiles, utilization heatmaps, and more.  

‘Previously we've used Trello, Asana, Ajera, Drive, Microsoft, and probably a few more that were secret deployments inside of small teams. Most had really good functions and visual elements, but ended up being a decentralized mess,’ explains one Capterra reviewer, highlighting the benefit of a centralized system for resource management instead of siloed project management software.

5) Kantata - The Retain alternative for large organizations

Award-winning Mavenlink was renamed Kantata in 2022. The cloud-based platform bills itself as professional services automation (PSA) and resource scheduling software. It includes features for operational management, resource management, business intelligence, and workflow automation. 

It’s aimed at larger organizations of up to 50,000+ employees and has a price tag that reflects enterprise budgets. But it delivers bang for your buck.

An intuitive UI, powerful resource management tools, and built-in time tracking tick PMs boxes. Whilst detailed reporting and BI functionality appeal to senior leaders looking for insights to improve overall business performance.

Kantata - alternative to Retain
‘The reporting functionality is extensive and has enabled us to get much better visibility of our project, program, portfolio, and resource data. This has allowed us to set/adjust our KPIs and better inform business decisions with the data we have available. Not only have we improved our business practices but our PMO has gained valuable insight into important aspects of the business that were previously siloed,’ says Mike, reviewing Kantata (then Mavenlink) on Capterra. 

Like other project portfolio management software listed here, the system receives some criticism for sometimes suffering lag. ‘The more tasks and individuals assigned to a project, the worse it is,’ complains one Capterra reviewer. But that seems to be a common issue when managing larger projects and portfolios.

Which Retain alternative is best? 

Your use case and business needs are unique - and every resource management software has pros and cons - so there’s no right answer to this question. We recommend that you consider the must-have features you need, read reviews to see how they perform, and then shortlist a handful of platforms to demo. 

For example,

  • How many people and projects do you need to manage?
  • Do you need an on-premise solution or do you prefer the flexibility of cloud-based/SaaS? 
  • Is a mobile app important if you’re working hybrid or from home?
  • What other software would you like to integrate it with?
  • What’s your preferred price point?

Doing the demo is really important. Vendors and reviews can tell you a lot. But there’s no substitute for trying the software for yourself. Especially when user experience is so key to adoption, engagement, and - ultimately - the success of your software.

This is why we make it super simple for you to take Runn for a test drive…

Experience Runn’s awesome UI for yourself - for free

Runn offers a completely free 14-day trial.  You don’t need to give us your credit card details. And we won’t start charging you at the end of the trial and hope you forget like some vendors do!

All we need is your email address to get you started.

You can explore the system using our data - playing with pie-in-the-sky projects like our secret moon base. Or you can easily import your own data and start experimenting with that. 

Set up your free trial with a couple of clicks below. Then it’s ready when you are.

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