No doubt you're familiar with the phrase "herding cats". Well, many resource managers would agree that this is a pretty accurate picture of their day-to-day job!
Resource management is an extremely intricate undertaking. Time, equipment, people, and money are all resources, and they all need to be distributed adequately within a company to meet the needs of various projects. And if the resourcing does not meet the needs of the projects, you can expect missed deadlines, sub-par work, and unhappy clients.
Resources are also expensive and finite, so need to be handled and allocated with care. As a result, effective resource management is often the difference between a highly profitable, healthy business, and a business that hemorrhages cash.
So, it's clear that resource managers shoulder a great deal of responsibility. But what does the job description of a resource manager actually entail? Let's find out.
Firstly, resource managers help project managers with planning and resource allocation for projects. It’s their job to allocate the correct resources to the right job at the optimal time, all within budget.
Resource management is one of the crucial aspects of project management because it is the avenue through which company resources are planned, scheduled, and allocated. Executing a project well depends not only on people, but also on processes, budgets, and even automated technological solutions. All of these elements are "resources" that need to be carefully managed.
Resource managers also provide project managers with collaborative support on ongoing and upcoming projects. They may have to adapt plans and reallocate resources to increase efficiency or deal with any unexpected hiccups that a project encounters.
Having a resource manager comes with these benefits:
There are crossovers between these two roles, but there are distinct differences too.
A project manager may only look after a handful of projects, but at the same time they will have responsibility for all the success metrics tied to these projects. Is the project going to be completed on time? Is it going to stay within the budget? Is the work going to meet the specifications?
Resource managers, on the other hand, might work across a whole organization, collaborating with several project managers. This is because they are focused on the resourcing side of project success, rather than the entire scope of the project.
This is not to say that a resource manager's responsibilities do not play a significant role in ensuring the project deliverables are met - indeed, they absolutely do. Having the right resources at the right time is absolutely vital to project success. It's just that resource managers will have less need for the granular detail on all aspects of a project.
And while project managers will spend a lot of their time communicating with clients and other external stakeholders, a resource manager may have less involvement with people outside the organization.
To illustrate the difference further, here are some examples of typical tasks that project managers and resource managers might find themselves working on in an average week:
With a limited budget and other resources, a project manager can give tasks to team members based on what they do. However, it is the resource manager's job to make sure that the right person gets the task and that the resources provided for each project are maximized.
The role of a resource manager does intersect with human resources managers and hiring managers, but is separate from both of those roles. Resource managers work with hiring managers in the hiring process, and with human resource managers in resource allocation.
However, a human resources manager differs from a resource manager in the sense that they only handle human resources, while resource managers take all of the organization's resources into account, not just staff.
A resource manager is involved in planning resource allocation, ensuring they maximize the use of all the company resources. While this includes training and employee development, it also includes managing additional resources such as equipment and supplies. Their main goal is to make sure each project stage has enough resources.
On the other hand, the human resources manager handles benefits and payroll administration, employee engagement, staff training, onboarding, and hiring.
Human resources management may work together with resource management to control and monitor all project staff allocation and staffing needs. In some cases, depending on the company's organizational structure, a resource manager may also step in to collaborate with the human resources manager on employee-related concerns.
According Neil Whitten, PMP, a resource manager is "the primary nurturer...the most altruistic, yet most influential, position in an organization". As they spend so much of their time thinking about people, skills, and performance, leveraging soft skills and broad, diverse experience of managing different people is essential.
However, resource managers also rely in a large way on data. To this end, they are greatly assisted in doing their jobs by utilizing modern project management software.
Rather than spending hours on manual input and crunching numbers in spreadsheets, modern platforms automate much of the data input and help you track complex interdependencies in a clear, concise way. They also surface useful trends and datapoints to help with decision making.
Indeed, the use of resource management software is essential to getting things done on time and to a high standard.
To guide you through the basics of resource management and other best practices with the help of efficient resource management software, read our Resource Management Starter's Guide here.
It goes without saying that a resource manager must have relevant experience and the right professional background for the job.
But a truly great resource manager doesn't just tick the boxes for the right qualifications. They also draw upon a wide range of analytical and people-management skills, and cultivate a certain mindset towards the pressures of juggling multiple projects at the same time.
Here are some of the specific requirements that successful resource managers often have under their belt:
Resource managers are usually required to hold a Bachelor's degree in any of these areas or their related fields:
Aside from obtaining a college degree, industry certifications can demonstrate specific professional expertise. Some of these certification courses are:
Advanced or Senior Certification programs are also available for career development in the resource management path or to comply with the company's organizational structure requirements.
Another important qualification of a great resource manager is having previous experience or being employed in a similar role:
Some companies do not require specific experience for the resource manager position. Previous experience in a relevant field may be optional depending on the job descriptions, but it will give the applicant an advantage over other candidates.
A resource manager must also be able to show they are knowledgeable in resource management by having the following hard skills:
Being a resource manager not only requires industry qualifications. It also requires the leadership skills and personal qualities that help foster a collaborative, motivated, and productive environment. Here are some relevant skills that a great resource manager should possess:
Some organizations may think that project managers are well-suited to handle the resources and other responsibilities. However, as the company begins to scale, the negative consequences of mishandling resources become more visible.
Aside from helping out the project managers, a resource manager keeps a bird's-eye, overall view of where various projects are at, which are outstanding, and what all the deadlines are. Using software to help, they can also keep track of where equipment and technicians are in real-time. They can then communicate this information to the various project managers.
Here are some specific signs that your company would benefit from hiring a resource manager:
When your team members are handling multiple projects simultaneously and working overtime hours for weeks, it may be a sign that your organization needs to hire a resource manager.
While there's nothing wrong with taking on multiple projects at once, having overstretched resource capacity isn't the path you want to take. Teams that have their to-do lists stacked up high will become demoralized and burnt-out, resulting in a dwindling quality of work and reduced productivity.
A resource manager can control the allocation of resources and manage the planning of project requirements to match staff assignments. This will prevent overbooking of team members and reduce workload.
Managing your company's staffing needs might be overwhelming if you aren't experienced in resource management. When you can't figure out when and who you need to hire, you need a resource manager to help. One of their skills includes analyzing and evaluating exactly when you will need to add personnel to your team.
Specifically, a resource manager can make accurate forecasts of your organization's demands based on future projects, resource schedules, and team members' capacity.
Assigning tasks may seem like a no-brainer. But once you get to the middle of the project, unless you have a well-established process to monitor who is working on what, you may find it challenging to produce a report on everyone's progress.
This is one of the areas of expertise of a resource manager. A lack of perspective makes it tough to prioritize demands and streamline communication. The resource manager uses their bird’s-eye view to delegate and oversee available resources and capacity for all projects on the go at the time.
Today’s resource managers use resource management tools to create more visibility of the team members' work, schedules, and availability. These tools are used to automate, forecast, and coordinate work, time, and costs specified by the project management team.
In turn, the resource manager does the allocation, planning, and managing of project resources to keep track of the assigned tasks.
When an organization starts to take on bigger and more complex projects, it becomes even more vital that the allocation of resources is optimized. Particularly if you are operating with a lean team, all sorts of issues can arise if team members are allocated to several different, demanding projects at once.
A resource manager takes charge of this situation by prioritizing, and making sure overbookings and clashing commitments are minimized. Where people or equipment are needed on multiple projects simultaneously, they can employ different strategies such as resource leveling or resource smoothing, based on the context of the projects.
Is your project team still dealing with paper forms and spreadsheets? It is well worth investing in resource management software that is reliable, efficient, and an all-in-one platform for all your resource management needs.
Assigning tasks to team members is not a once-and-done job. A resource manager also needs to ensure employees are not overworked or underutilized. When it comes to keeping track of resource utilization and capacity planning, a resource management software tool like Runn is invaluable to a resource manager.
Runn lets you take a step back and monitor if the right tasks are with the right people while maximizing the various teams’ efficiency. With its capacity and workload charts, there's no need to worry about heavy or unbalanced workloads.
Taking risks into account is an essential part of any business. While project managers handle overall risk management, part of the job description of a resource manager is being able to share this responsibility.
Using a streamlined resource management software package minimizes common resource risks like cost overruns, unavailability of resources, or sudden increase in demand. Runn gives your resource managers an early preview of future project impediments and roadblocks, making forecasting and strategic planning a breeze.
Handling elaborate resource management tasks can get overwhelming, especially since the demands come from all directions – within and outside the organization. Resource management software provides extensive insights and reports on key resource parameters to help your resource manager keep focused on making better decisions.
Runn offers data and status on all levels of an organization by simply clicking filters and personalization, so managers remain updated and prepared to resolve issues as and when they occur.
An automatically-synced resource management solution will give a resource manager more time to do more important things, rather than manually mapping everyone's calendar. This will allow resource managers to be more efficient in handling personnel availability, workload, and capacity rates.
Be sure to look for an all-in-one platform to allocate resources accurately, categorize billable work, and identify the overall team utilization. Using Runn is like having a team timetable and workload chart in one. It gives the resource manager real-time resource and project management data and information to establish visibility and accountability.
With the help of resource management software like Runn, a resource manager maximizes available resources, keeps track of their usage, and forecasts any bottlenecks in the process.
Runn is an effective tool to optimize your resource management. From planning to forecasting, your resource management needs can be united in one streamlined, user-friendly place. Book a demo with us today.
The Project Management Office is a common feature of high-performing project-based businesses. What exactly is a PMO and how does it improve business outcomes?