Resources are one of the most critical factors to project success. So, it only stands to reason that every initiative demands a comprehensive project resource management strategy, as well as a dedicated professional to handle and oversee this strategy.
You may wonder why a resource manager is so important. Shouldn’t a project manager suffice? While these two professionals do work closely together, they each play a unique role in your organization.
How, then, can a resource manager enhance their value and ensure that your strategy and projects succeed?
What is a resource manager?
It’s important to remember that resources include people, materials, and non-physical entities.
A resource manager’s role involves many high-level responsibilities. They include:
- Liaising with various departments to take stock of their needs
- Defining the personnel who should be involved in each project
- Allocating resources appropriately
- Collaborating with the project managers to understand what each project demands
- Ensuring more productive and efficient use of materials and employees
- Assessing project profitability, considering output vs. input
- Participating in the recruitment process
- Evaluating compliance procedures
While there are certain overlaps between a resource manager and a project manager, there are several key distinctions. The most important quality of note is that project managers focus on their specific projects at a given time, while the resource manager is tasked with looking at the big picture, determining which resources are necessary for the organization as a whole and how they can best be utilized for all projects.
Skills and experience
Effective business resource management begins with the right skills and experience. Most positions will require a bachelor’s degree. While this can usually be in a wide range of fields, many resource managers have degrees in human resources, organizational development, communication, business, or a related field. You will also likely need to demonstrate work experience in project management before moving into the resource manager role.
Just some of the skills you will need on the job include:
- Critical thinking
- Risk management
- Strategic thinking
- Technical skills
- Time management
There are numerous challenges organizations face when managing and handling their resources. As a resource manager, you may grapple with obstacles such as:
- Mismatched project management and resource management strategies
- Too few personnel
- Employees with the wrong skillsets
- Overextending materials and tools
- A lack of insight into individual employee strengths and weaknesses
- Ineffectual tools
How to succeed
1. Remember that your team is your no. 1 asset.
A large part of your job is determining which people are most appropriate for given tasks and responsibilities. As such, your people are your most important asset. You must do your due diligence to evaluate each individual team member’s skills, qualifications, backgrounds, and qualities in order to determine who is the best match for each project. Additionally, you must take the time to get to know employees, as well as look for new hires if certain competencies are missing.
2. Evaluate and plan for risks.
You hope that emergencies and crises don’t happen — that’s a given. But you still need to operate as though they always could. Risk management is a critical part of the resource manager’s role; you have to think about what you will do if something unexpected happens.
You also need to account for the possibility of change. The landscape is evolving dramatically, and it’s important to be cognizant of how your resource management strategy and practices could change with it.
3. Think long-term.
Going hand-in-hand with risk management is long-term planning. You simply cannot be laser-focused on the present when you’re a resource manager. Of course, this is part of your job, but so is considering the future.
Think about not only what your needs are in the present but also how they could change in the longer term. This will better enable you to prioritize and delegate accordingly. It will also allow you to account for multiple scenarios.
4. Utilize tools effectively.
There are many tools to help you in the resource management process. Project management software is a starting point, as is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. But even simple tools like spreadsheets and task matrices will support you in mapping out and organizing your strategy and stay involved in your role and responsibilities overall.
Make sure you devise a system for keeping track of tasks and staying apprised of progress, too. Work with leadership at your organization to ensure you have all the necessary tools in place.
5. Keep growing.
Like most other jobs, the role of the resource manager demands growth. You always need to be thinking about what you can do to make yourself even more helpful and better equipped to boost projects and equip your team members with the resources to carry out these initiatives successfully.
Look for ways to learn. That could be in the form of training seminars or courses, but there are just as likely informal ways to grow, too. Ask questions. Network with other resource managers and project managers. Develop relationships with coworkers, who are integral members of your team. And constantly and continuously think about what you can do to perform your job even better.