It’s hard to imagine an agency, a software house, or even a product-focused startup without a project manager. They make sure that projects (however they’re defined in a given company) get delivered successfully: on time and within budget.
A resource manager, on the other hand, is a role that you don’t see as often in project management teams. It’s not because their job is not as important: quite the contrary. Most often than not, however, resource management efforts are divided into multiple roles. In this article, we’ll shed more light on the role of a resource manager and perhaps even convince you that having a person solely responsible for managing project resources is a valuable investment for your organization.
Project Manager vs. Resource Manager – What is the Difference Between Them?
Probably the easiest way to grasp the difference between resource managers and project managers is to analyze the level on which they operate:
- Project Managers operate on a project-level: they manage a single project (or a couple of projects). They are responsible for having it completed by the project team.
- Resource Managers operate on a company-level: they’re responsible for allocating appropriate resources to multiple projects.
Yet another aspect that differentiates PMs from RMs is the fact that a project manager usually deals with a series of time-boxed processes. Their projects have fixed timelines or e.g., sprint calendars they adhere to. A resource manager, on the other hand, works continuously as they’re typically involved in all of the projects happening at given company.
Typical Duties of a Project Manager:
A project manager’s role involves:
- Building a project management plan and coordinating the delivery of a project.
- Identifying staffing needs (an RM can manage such requests).
- Time and cost estimating.
- Setting expectations for the project team.
- Communicating with clients/stakeholders.
- Team performance management by regularly monitoring project’s KPIs.
- Monitoring the budget of a project.
- Identifying risks and opportunities in the project throughout its lifecycle: making necessary suggestions and improvements.
- Reporting on the progress of the project.
- Documenting the project.
- Streamlining work and maintaining project transparency with project management software.
- Collaborating with external vendors and/or freelancers.
- Leading the project team: optimizing processes, nurturing employee engagement, and encouraging feedback.
Of course, different projects require different tasks to be performed by PMs. However, the critical aspect of their work is to ensure the successful delivery of their project.
Typical Duties of a Resource Manager:
A resource manager is usually responsible for:
- Resource planning and allocation. Assigning people to projects based on their skills, previous experience, availability, or project budget.
- Capacity planning. Resource manager needs to make sure that their organization’s resources have enough capacity to deliver upcoming projects.
- Supporting project managers in ongoing resource management efforts. A project manager is often the first person to spot problems: employee overutilization, uneven workload, or overtime. A resource manager can step in and help PMs by reallocating resources, adjusting goals or requirements, or assigning new people to the team.
- Hiring new employees. Knowing the requirements of each project, an RM is often the best person to hire people with project-appropriate qualifications.
Resource managers can also be responsible for HR-related processes: payroll, employee benefits, training. It all depends on the organizational structure of a given business.
RMs collaborate with multiple teams within organizations:
- HR – they need to work together closely in order to hire appropriate people and define their roles.
- PMO/Production – defining duties for particular employees within a project.
- Sales – planning team capacity and forecasting recruitment needs.
Resource Managers may expect to work with other departments as well, depending on the company size and structure. As Neil Whitten put it: THE RESOURCE MANAGER has a nearly impossible job—with demands coming from every imaginable direction—yet a job that can have a profound impact on the organization’s success.
When to Appoint a Resource Manager?
Effective resource management is a crucial factor in successful project management. It’s much easier to coordinate a project when you have a team that’s capable of meeting its demands (both in terms of skills and availability). Companies usually start to notice the negative consequences of poor resource management when they grow. In a small organization, it’s perfectly doable for PMs to assign their own teams or get advice from the management when there’s a resource conflict. When there’s more projects, more employees, and more PMs, it’s a good time to introduce a resource manager to your team.
Keep in mind that a dedicated resource manager is a tremendous help, but it’s not the only way to make better resource planning decisions. Even before you hire your first resource manager, you can support your project managers by giving them access to a dedicated resource management software.
Introduce Resource Management at Your Company with Teamdeck
Resource scheduling experts and successful project managers name Teamdeck their favorite resource management tool. Our app helps to schedule resources, monitor their workload, and measure their performance. Teamdeck’s resource calendar shows who’s available, who’s busy and who’s on vacation: assigning people to projects is much easier this way. Want to see our tool in action? Schedule a walkthrough here.