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What is a Resource Manager? Roles, Responsibilities & How to Succeed

Effective resource management really can make or break a project-based business. That's why hiring a resource manager can be truly transformational. But what is a resource manager, and what can they bring to an organization?

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.

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What does a resource manager do?

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:

  • Improves the project’s overall flow.
  • Balances employees’ workload
  • Overcomes resource shortages or late deliveries
  • Ensures that all the company’s projects are staffed with the best people for the job
  • Ultimately brings about greater efficiency and quality, better customer relations, and happier staff

As Runn CEO and co-founder Tim Copeland puts it, the Resource Manager is a role that provides an invaluable bridge across many functions, helping different departments stay connected and aligned to achieve the best outcomes for the business:

A lot of the tension that gets brought into organizations is the two quite different competing forces at work: one is the work that needs to get done, and the second one is the people, the capability, and the capacity of your organization. How well in sync they are makes such a big difference. It's cliche, but unfortunately, it's still true that a lot of dysfunction in businesses comes down to the fact that everybody operates in silos. But Resource Managers play a critical role in breaking down silos in an organization - they can be a catalyst for transformation.

Sign up for our upcoming webinar to learn more about resource management, its role in the organization, and how to succeed:

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Responsibilities of a resource manager vs. a project manager

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:

project manager vs resource manager responsibilities

Project manager responsibilities:

  • Creating a project plan and other project documentation by coordinating with the clients, stakeholders, and the project team
  • Allocating specific tasks and work packages within the project team
  • Meeting clients and other stakeholders to report on project progress and tackle any blockers
  • Preventing losses and inactivity by setting risk management strategies
  • Tracking project budget and costing requirements
  • Streamlining documentation processes to ensure project transparency

Resource manager responsibilities:

  • Preparing and executing a resource capacity plan and resource schedules
  • Allocating resources to projects, including assigning the appropriate personnel to job roles within a project
  • Performance management
  • Forecasting the need for new employees for upcoming projects
  • Identifying the qualifications of new employees to match the project needs
  • Addressing resource demands of all departments for the project's successful delivery

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.

Is a resource manager the same as a human resources manager?

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.

A resource manager is involved in planning resource allocation, ensuring that the team has a stable, consistent workload, matched to the work that best meets business priorities. In short, the goal is to make sure that each project stage has enough people to do the work - ensuring the right team with the right skills are in the right place at the right time.

On the other hand, the human resources manager handles benefits and payroll administration, employee engagement, staff training, onboarding, and hiring. The role has a more holistic basis in creating a quality employee experience.

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.

Christine Robinson, resource management consultant and former Director of Resource Management at Baker Tilly, began her career in HR, but transitioned to resource management later on as she found it to be a better fit. She found that the two areas had similarities, but also distinct differences:

I started off my career in the HR space. I did a couple of different things in that arena, mainly for large organizations, both in the HR generalist space as well as the recruiting area. And I loved it, but, at that time, I didn’t even know that resource management existed. It's not a very mature profession - it's not been around for as many years as its counterparts in HR. What I really loved about HR was connecting with individuals, however, I found that strategic initiatives in HR really have a long term play. Generally speaking, in HR you're working with concepts that are a little less concrete. You're working with things like “morale”, or trying to improve employee engagement at large. It’s hard to measure that. I just found it not very tangible. And I found that to be difficult, especially at that point in my career. 
But when I found resource management, I saw that it was really tangible - it’s a lot more focused on targets. “That individual was not scheduled. And now they are scheduled”. It’s very cut and dried; your actions have an immediate impact on utilization and productivity. It gave me that satisfaction and motivation that I needed. But you still get to enjoy the human side - you have the opportunity to connect with people on the individual level, understand where they're coming from, understand their career goals, and make something happen for them.

How resource managers do their job

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.

What makes a great resource manager?

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:

  • Human resources
  • Management
  • Business administration
  • Organizational development
  • Supply chain management
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship

Aside from obtaining a college degree, industry certifications can demonstrate specific professional expertise. Some of these certification courses are:

  • Resource Management Certification
  • Project Management Certification
  • Certified Professional in Learning and Performance
  • Certified Professional in Human Resources
  • Program Management Professional
  • Manager Certification
  • Certified in Integrated Resource Management
  • Master Project Manager

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:

  • Project manager
  • HR manager
  • Resource manager
  • Employee relations
  • HR consultant
  • Project consultant
  • Organizational manager

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.

Hard skills

A resource manager must also be able to show they are knowledgeable in resource management by having the following hard skills:

  • Well-versed in project management and resource management
  • Extensive knowledge of labor laws
  • Proficient in using resource management software, CRM, analytical tools, and project management software
  • Utilizes a data-driven approach to create decisions objectively
  • Identification of current market and economic trends
  • Computer literacy
  • Understands financial and market analysis and reports
  • Knowledgeable in the hiring, onboarding, and training processes

Soft 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 soft skills that a great resource manager should possess:

  • Communication skills
  • The ability to encourage cooperative working relationships
  • Problem-solving skills to resolve conflicts and investigate all available solutions
  • Training, coaching, and mentoring skills
  • Adaptability and versatility
  • Strategic thinking for efficient negotiating, delegating, and appointment
  • Goal-setting skills

Here's Christine Robinson, veteran Resource Manager, with her thoughts on the most important soft skill for becoming a successful RM - being able to thrive in the unknown!

The ability to be comfortable with the unknown is paramount. If you're the type of individual who really enjoys having a mapped out layout of exactly how your day is going to go, and you become very flustered if one piece is out of place, this is probably not the field for you! Successful Resource Managers need to be able to roll with the punches. It's not to say that we don't get stressed out or challenged. But being able to pivot as the business needs, that's key to success.

To learn more, continue reading: Resource Management Skills - All You Need to Know

Signs that your organization needs a resource manager

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:

The team is overbooked and overworked

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.

You can't figure out when or who to hire

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.

You don't have a solid process to see who is working on what

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.

You experience resource conflicts and shortages

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.

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Benefits of using resource management software

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. 

Monitor resource utilization and capacity

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.

Reduce project risks

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.

Create more informed human resource decisions

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.

Establish team transparency

Runn's People Planner

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.

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