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Iryna Viter

The Role of the Resource Management Office (RMO)

The Resource Management Office (RMO) is pivotal to establishing resource visibility on projects. Learn more about its role in our recent guide.

The Resource Management Office, or RMO, oftentimes functions as the central hub for hundreds of resourcing processes and decisions running within the organization. It's a place of continuous calculations and predictions, where teams are trying to figure out how to equally distribute workloads when new work is coming down the pipeline and predict the company's resource needs.

At this point, more and more companies are coming to recognize the value of having an RMO, while the responsibilities of a standard RMO are evolving.

In this article, we'll look into what the RMO means, what role it usually plays within an organization, and how it is different from the Project Management Office (PMO).

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What is a Resource Management Office (RMO)?

A Resource Management Office (RMO) is a special dedicated team or department within an organization that takes on the job of creating resource management plans, which entail managing and optimizing the allocation, utilization, and tracking of all the relevant resources. 

Overall, those resources can be anything from equipment and facilities to materials and people (human capital and time). Here, however, we will mostly be focusing on the most valuable resource every organization has — its people and their talents. 

The role of a Resource Management Office in an organization

The very main task of a Resource Management Office is, as a rule, to make sure that all resources are put to good use for the organization to achieve its goals with maximum efficiency. 

There are lots of activities an RMO will be taking the lead in, but here are the main ones:

  • Planning resources. Once project requirements and strategic goals are clear, the RMO will pinpoint resource needs. This usually requires resource availability assessment, forecasting future needs, and developing resource allocation plans. This planning is usually done with the help of resource management software, which most RMO teams get to pick for themselves.
  • Allocating resources. Resource managers are also responsible for matching the right resources to the right projects by looking at people’s availability, skills, seniority, and sometimes project priorities. It’s their job to make sure that everyone receives an equal amount of work to do and optimize productivity to help teams deliver great performance outcomes. 
  • Tracking resources. Allocation of resources right does not automatically guarantee successful projects. It’s crucial for the RMO to be present every step of the way, and track progress and usage of resources. They need to identify bottlenecks and define resource utilization rates to be able to provide insights on how those resources can be optimized further. 
  • Managing capacity. The RMO does both granular and high-level jobs. Capacity management, for example, requires them to look at the company’s or team’s capacity overall to determine whether it’s realistic to take on certain workloads. Here they need to look into future needs, resource utilization patterns, and based on that analysis say whether there’s a need to hire additional resources. 
  • Reporting on resources. Transparency and visibility are paramount for successful projects. To get there, the RMO team needs to ensure clear communication and reporting on resources to all the stakeholders in the game, like project managers, executives, and others. This is a necessary step for everyone to be able to make informed decisions and realistically evaluate where the company is headed in general.

When it comes to measuring the success of the RMO, the resource management KPIs, the Resource Management Institute found that most companies look at the same indicators. And for most of them, resource utilization, project staffing timelines, and resource forecasting accuracy are the biggest expectations from the RMO.

RMO vs PMO: What's the difference?

First thing to note here is that the Resource Management Office (RMO) and Project Management Office (PMO) are two separate departments within an organization. True, the organization needs to be fairly big for this separation to take place but as companies scale, there are so many cogs to keep track of that it’s only logical to have the RMO and PMO in place. Even more, for some companies it makes sense to have multiple RMOs overseeing their resources. 

According to the resource management statistics by the Resource Managenement Institude, most RMOs, 41% to be exact, are teams of 2-5 people, followed by 24% with teams of 6-10 people, with each manager being responsible for around 25-200+ people, depending on the size of the organization.

But what makes them so different?

Let’s first use a metaphor. Say, you’re having a party.

The Resource Management Office (RMO) are the ultimate party planners. Their job is to make sure you have all the right resources at the party — food, drinks, decorations, you name it. They're like the master chefs in the kitchen, carefully coordinating all the ingredients, the amounts of those ingredients, to create a delicious feast. They need to make sure that all resources get used efficiently and that nothing goes to waste by using the best resource management practices.

Then there is the Project Management Office (PMO). Picture them as the party coordinators. They're the ones in charge of connecting the dots and making sure everything happens according to plan. They'll help you decide on the party theme and set up a timeline. They're like the conductors of an orchestra, ensuring that each instrument plays its part and the music flows harmoniously.

In other words, the RMO teams make sure all the resources needed for projects, like people, equipment, and materials, are handled wisely. They're  expert jugglers who carefully balance all the resources, making sure each project gets what it needs without any major clashes. Their goal is to maximize the use of resources and predict resource management challenges so projects can be completed smoothly, on time, and within budget.

The PMO teams, on the other hand, need to keep a watchful eye on all the projects happening in the organization. They provide guidance, set standards, and equip project managers with the tools and know-how to tackle projects successfully. They make sure that projects take off smoothly, stay on course, and end as expected. The PMO also helps the organization make smart decisions about which projects to prioritize, so they can achieve their bigger goals.


Keen to learn more about PMOs? Read more here:

How to establish an RMO

Now that we're clear on the differences between the remit of the PMO and the RMO, you might be wondering if you should be building an Resource Management Office in your organization, and what that process might look like. Where would you start?

We asked Christine Robinson, former Managing Director of Resource Management at Baker Tilly US, on how to set up an RMO at a business that is resource management-curious, but never taken the plunge before. Christine is a veteran of setting up new resource management functions in organizations, and so, drawing on her experience, this is what she recommends:

1. Understand what the RMO needs to achieve

"What I would say is that it’s important to build an understanding of what needs to be achieved. That means not coming in with a preconceived notion of “Here's the structure that we're going to put into place”, or “Here's the process that we're going to do.” That's destined to fail. Instead, start with having an understanding of the strategic vision of leadership and what they need.

Sometimes leadership won't know what they need out of the resource management process. But that's why you're there, right? You need to articulate the strategic value of resource management - you need to be the bridge between leadership's strategic goals, and the day-to-day ways that resource management can help achieve those goals.

And so, it's really around understanding what is going to be beneficial to them. What challenges are they facing? What pain points are they experiencing? Maybe it's not directly related to staffing, and so you'll have to dig a little bit deeper. Perhaps it's that their clients are a little bit unpredictable? Perhaps they have a really hard time recruiting? Or maybe they have a really easy time recruiting people, but their work is so unpredictable that they need a way of keeping people engaged before they get put on a specific project. There's so many different potential challenges. And you'll have to understand what those are to be able to build a process around that. I'd say that's the first piece of the puzzle."

2. Determine a structure for the RMO

"The next step is designing a structure. And when I say structure, I mean, the actual structure of the resource management platform, the structure of the team. Do you need one resource management leader? Do you need a few leaders? Are there certain service lines or other nuances to your business that you need a really keen understanding of? You want to create a structure that allows the resource managers to respond as quickly and as efficiently as possible, to deliver on what you need. It’s vital to think about that when you're designing the team. "

3. Decide on the tools the RMO will use

"Another key piece of the puzzle is choosing a resource management tool. It's really difficult - and somewhat unreasonable - to expect resource managers to flourish when not provided with the right tools in their arsenal. If you want resource management to be truly, truly strategic, your resource managers can't spend all of their time entering data and doing manual tasks that are simply administrative when a tool could do it.

You need something that's going to be able to position resource managers to get information efficiently, accurately. Ideally, something that can speak to other systems within your organization, so you're not having to work off of out of date data. Ideally, it’ll be something that captures the information that's important to your business - maybe that's skill sets, maybe that's certifications, maybe that's proficiency level. Certainly, has to cover schedules, and all of the different dynamic pieces that relate to people’s working hours: if you have some people on a flexible work arrangement, or only working 80% of the time, well, you need a system that is going to be able to capture that information for you."

4. Build out the RMO processes

"And finally, the other key piece is a process. A tool and a team without a process doesn't really do much. So having a really, really solid process around getting the right information, and then deciding what you're going to do with that information - how you're going to make decisions using that information effectively. Empowering the resource manager to make certain decisions on your behalf because they're in line with your strategic vision. All of these things are important to think about."

To sum up

The RMO is crucial for any enterprise's success as it helps you make sure all resources are put to good use. It helps plan, analyze, and optimize resources to put all people in the right places within the organization.

The RMOs, same as the PMO, are the kind of teams that turn chaos into order. But it's not just that. They also help you increase the level of visibility within the organizations, making decisions easier and more likely to end in success.

But the bigger the organization, the more headaches the RMO will be getting, even if they are a team of 10+ people. To streamline your RMO's processes and make all workflows more efficient, book a demo with Runn today!

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