Project Management vs. Resource Management

- By Om Gupta |

September 5, 2023

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Many times, individuals misconstrue the difference between Resource Management and Project Management. Resource Management is often assumed as a byproduct of Project Management. Many consultants also believe that all resource management issues are addressed by rolling up the resource allocation details within a project management tool.

Resource management is a separate discipline that complements project management and other applications such as ERP, PPM, CRM, HR, and more.

Project Managers operate on a project-level while the size and the complexity of the projects can vary. A project manager ensures that the projects are completed within a stipulated time and budget by their respective project team. However, resource managers operate at the organization level, and they oversee the allocation of appropriate resources to several projects.

In the following sections, we will elaborate on the concepts mentioned above:

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1. Project management definition

Project management involves creating a project plan, carrying out project planning, project resource planning, and scheduling resources to different tasks for meeting delivery commitments. Project management is also applying knowledge, skills, methodologies, and techniques to meet the project requirements. It deals with defining the project scope, determining the required quality, deadline, and budget. Project management focuses on achieving the desired goals according to the clients’ expectations and organizational objectives.

2. Resource management definition

The process of effective and efficient utilization of business resources, i.e., human resources, tools, assets, etc. is called resource management. The primary aim of resource management is to take care of project resource requirements. It is done by utilizing resources from the organization’s existing talent pool or by hiring new resources as appropriate. It also includes ensuring timely resource allocation, optimal utilization, and effective communication between the workforce to provide the desired ROI.

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3. Comparison between resource management and project management

In this section, we take a closer look at the basic concepts around these two terminologies:

A. Goal

Resource requirement in a project is a continuous process, and effective resource management addresses that. Its objective is to allocate a competent workforce to project resource demands without compromising the project quality. It enhances employee satisfaction and keeps them motivated to achieve their career objectives.

Whereas project management extensively focuses on delivering projects of the desired quality within time and budget. Implementation of project methodologies and techniques helps accomplish the same. It aims at meeting client satisfaction and achieving organizational business objectives for profitability.

B. Approach

Resource management keeps a check when project managers request for team members. It helps allocate resources with desired skills to the projects. It ensures that employees remain productive, satisfied, and engaged. On the flip side, project management comes into action while developing the project charter during the initiation phase.

The project manager defines the project scope and provides workforce requirements to the resource manager, after which his responsibility ends. The project manager manages these resources to meet the delivery objectives and review their performance at every milestone.

C. Method

Once the pipeline project reaches a certain probability of closure, the resource management team conducts resource planning by estimating the demand. It looks into internal channels for the fulfilment, such as bench or matching resources getting rolled off from other projects. Training and shadowing opportunities for resources that are non-billable or have some spare capacity helps in acquiring new skills.

If the existing team capacity cannot meet the demand, contractual, or new permanent resources can be hired. In contrast, the project management plan estimates the nature of the effort required in different areas of knowledge. The plan breaks down work into a series of small tasks called work breakdown structure (wbs) and defines its dependencies. Milestones are created that act as project checkpoints.

D. Control

Resource management tracks resource utilization within a project. It avoids under or overutilization of resources, billing loss, employee burnout, and more. Unlike focusing on resources, project management performs risk analysis and mitigation to protect the project from underlying threats.

Along with risk mitigation, it is also important to regularly reassess that the existing plan is on track. The project must be completed within the designated time and budget. There should be controls in place to check its progress from time to time and milestones are designed for this purpose.

E. Timeframe

Resource management is an ongoing, continuous process that goes beyond individual projects’ boundaries. It focuses on managing and utilizing resources optimally across multiple projects and organizational requirements.

Project management is temporary and for a specified duration of a project. It focuses on accomplishing project-specific goals while adhering to established constraints. The duration of the project depends on the length of phases, including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure. It may vary as per the project’s complexity, scope, and objectives.

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4. Responsibilities of a project manager and resource manager

The following section describes the various roles of a resource and project manager and how their functions are different from each other:

A. Role of a project manager

Below is the rundown on several project management roles.

  • Create a project plan

Project managers create a detailed project plan that adheres to the allocated budget and timeline. They also provide timely project status reports to the stakeholders and lead project team members to complete the delivery.

  • Define scope and set expectations

Negotiate and set expectations of the project for the business users that come within the project scope.

  • Identify time, cost, and resource requirements

Estimate time and cost by evaluating all the parameters that can affect the project process. Also, provide resource requirement detail to the resource manager.

  • Track team performance & budget

Track and improve the productivity of the project resources with constant feedback and review. Also, evaluate and approve project expenses.

  • Documentation & reporting

Perform or oversee documentation of project activity details, legal records, resource performance reports, etc. and present them to decision-makers.

  • Manage stakeholders

Update stakeholders regarding project health, budget utilization on resources and activities, and more. Apprise critical details with regards to the project to the decision-makers with effective communication.

  • Project team management

Involve the workforce in the decision-making process. Encourage team members to provide suggestions and feedback and reward them appropriately.

  • Identify risks and opportunities

Identify potential risks and opportunities. Accordingly, take calculative measures to mitigate and eliminate the threats or pursue the opportunities as appropriate.

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B. Resource Manager’s Role

Below is a rundown on the roles and responsibilities of a resource manager.

  • Resource planning and allocation

Allocate competent resources to projects based on their skills, previous experience, availability, and project budget.

  • Capacity planning

Gauge the gap between the available workforce capacity and demands from future pipelined projects and provide resourcing treatments.

  • Resource requisition

When a resource requisition is received from the project manager, provide a solution by looking into both internal and external channels.

  • Understand employees’ ambitions

Allocate resources to project tasks based on their skills and interests to keep them motivated.

  • Coordinate with project managers

Promptly understand resource requests made by project managers. Negotiate to deploy less qualified resources from the bench who can be further trained on the job.

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5. What should be your priority: Project Management or Resource Management?

Project Management and Resource Management are two sides of the same coin for an organization. Both of these disciplines are needed to maintain sustainability and profitability. The roles and responsibilities of a resource manager finishes once resources are accepted within a project.

The role of the project manager then takes over and manages these resources to complete the delivery. Resource requirements must be met during the initiation phase, without which a project cannot commence. Hence the role of resource management precedes project management in any business environment.

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SAVIOM is the market leader in providing effective solutions for managing enterprise resources efficiently and effectively. With over 20 years of experience, Saviom has addressed the business needs of many highly esteemed global companies. Some of the tool’s components include enterprise resource management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software.

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