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Project Management vs. Resource Management: How Do They Compare?

Difference between project management and resource management

Project management has become widely recognized and essential in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex business environment. Its closely related cousin — resource management — doesn’t get as much limelight but is equally essential for successful project delivery.

However, people often need clarification on the two management forms or use them interchangeably. While some overlap exists in project and resource managers’ responsibilities, they are not the same.

In this guide, we will explore the similarities and differences between project management and resource management and how the jobs of a project manager and a resource manager vary. We will also talk about how a reputed project management course can help you kickstart your career in this field.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the practice of establishing the project’s scope, the deliverables’ quality, budget, and deadlines. It involves preparing and implementing a project plan. Project management is used to undertake a project and ensure its completion by breaking it into small tasks with a manageable delivery timeline. This method includes allocating tasks to personnel with the most compatible skills.

The primary aim of project management is to track each step of the project regularly, flag areas that may hamper a smooth delivery, and ensure all the team members are on the same page regarding the multitude of project tasks.

What is Resource Management?

Resources management deals with the planning, sourcing, organization, and allocating resources required for various business aspects, such as human resources, assets, tools, budget, etc. It is the method of taking care of all the resources a project may require and providing them to the team within the required timeframe. Resource management may obtain the resources from those existing in the organization or acquire them by hiring new personnel or purchasing new tools and assets.

This process also ensures that the budget is maintained during resource acquisition and utilization. Hence, resource management is a constant requirement to ensure that resources are provided at any point during the project in a way that ensures a streamlined and timely delivery.

Also Read: What is Project Resource Management? Everything You Need to Know

Resource Management vs. Project Management: Key Differences

Resource management and project management work toward a common goal: completing multiple tasks within the established timeframe. However, their paradigms of responsibilities are pretty distinct. Let us examine some of the critical differences.

Focus

Project management is focused on achieving the larger project’s end goals while maintaining the quality of the delivery. Meanwhile, resource management focuses primarily on providing and managing the resources required for the project.

Task Allocation

The tasks in project management are the steps required to complete the project. These typically are technical. Project management involves providing a list of tasks for the personnel to complete. On the other hand, resource management determines the people best suited to complete the said tasks. This is critical as allotting tasks to people without the proper skills would delay the project and reduce the quality.

People Management

Project management is an objective process that assesses the progress of the project. It involves monitoring the work and assisting the team members in technical aspects as and when required. Meanwhile, resource management evaluates the morale of the team members during the project and anticipates their needs. It includes ensuring that the team members are motivated to complete the tasks and providing resources to help them through the project.

Differences and Similarities Between Project Manager and Resource Manager

Now that you have an idea of the two types of management methodologies, let’s explore the unique features of project and resource managers.

Role

The role of project managers is to implement the project management methodology and accomplish the project goals on time. Resource managers, conversely, ensure that the project has the most suitable resources required for its successful completion.

Responsibilities

Project managers handle various responsibilities such as planning the project timeline., budgeting the project, creating teams, and scheduling the tasks. They communicate the project goals to the team effectively and conduct regular meetings to evaluate the progress. They coordinate with both the in-house team as well as freelancers and consultants. The project managers also have to assess the practicality of the deliverables and re-work the task list to prevent any technical delay.

Meanwhile, resource managers are responsible for understanding the requirements of the project manager vis-à-vis the skills necessary to carry out the tasks, the tools required, and the logistics. They assess their organization’s talent pool to assign the most suitable personnel to the project. They also identify the gaps in the talent pool and take steps to hire and train new employees. The project managers contact the resource manager for additional or urgent budgeting or asset needs.

Skills

Both project managers and resource managers must be excellent communicators. In addition, the primary skills that a project manager must possess are exceptional organizational capability, techniques, and tools for project management, excellent problem-solving, and good IT proficiency. They must also be good leaders who understand and care for their team members without placing unreasonable demands or micromanaging. Such skills can be learned only in a well-designed project management bootcamp.

On the other hand, resource managers must have excellent mathematical and analytical skills to establish budgets and assess their appropriate allocation. They should have business acumen to purchase, hire, and allot resources within the organization’s budget while ensuring that the project’s outcome is profitable. They must empathize with the team members, understand their requirements, and provide emotional and logistical support. Finally, resource managers must be great negotiators to bring all the concerned parties on board in a way that works in the organization’s favor.

Education

Project managers must be graduates or post-graduates in project management, business management, or similar fields. They may also complete certifications from accredited international organizations that impart comprehensive project management training.

Resource managers typically hold graduate or postgraduate degrees in business administration, human resources, or organization management. These are usually full-time or part-time degree courses.

Meanwhile, there are certain similarities between resource managers and project managers. Both roles deal with management and tracking the respective tasks in the various stages of the project. Both roles require building a rapport with the team members. They need to look at the big picture and work towards achieving the project objectives, albeit via two different pathways. In summary, resource and project managers manage projects with varying aspects of the same tasks.

Also Read: Best Apps for Project Management You Should Know in 2024

Salary of a Project Manager vs. Resource Manager

Glassdoor reported that the average annual salary of a project manager is $99,863 in 2024, while that of a resource manager is $95,880. These figures are subject to variation with respect to experience, educational qualifications, location, and organizational policies. Overall, as a project manager handles a large team and is the primary person responsible for the completion of the project, they usually get higher salaries and more significant growth opportunities.

Can a Project Manager Work as a Resource Manager and Vice-Versa?

A resource manager is responsible for only the resource part of the project. They source people, software, assets, tools, etc., for the project team as and when required. They are responsible for checking in with the team members, talking to them about their role in the project, how easy or difficult they find it, and arranging any sessions to help them in technical or other aspects. Resource managers also plan and deal with project budgeting and capacity management.

However, all of these activities can fall under the umbrella of the responsibilities of a project manager. A project manager can also plan the budget and source and allocate resources. They can narrow down the skills required and create a team. They can gauge the team members’ readiness and arrange for training or hire more people to assist the team. They can evaluate the team’s morale through one-on-one meetings with the team members and get their feedback on how the team can function more efficiently. Hence, a project manager can work as a resource manager.

However, a resource manager cannot work as a project manager. Their role is restricted to human resources, assets, tools, and logistics. They may need to become more familiar with the nuances of project management. Further, a resource manager may need to possess skills such as project risk management, agile and scrum methodologies, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and customer experience design. Thus, a project manager can work as a resource manager, but a resource manager cannot work as a project manager.

Also Read: 20 Best Practices in Project Management [2024 Guide]

Should You Pursue Project Management or Resource Management?

The short answer is — it depends. The long answer is it boils down to the type of work you like and the type of interactions you prefer. Are you more of a people person and would like to make the lives of employees easier? Then, resource management is the field for you.

However, project management is the right choice if you are inclined to lead people towards achieving their aims. As a project manager, you would be responsible for charting the project’s path and ensuring that every team member walks the path without a glitch. You would also get the opportunity to work on different projects, which will expand your worldview and experience. A job-ready project management program will train you in all the aspects of project management necessary to take the first step.

Master Project Management Skills for a Bright Career in this Field

Project management is a comprehensive practice that can be applied to any project in any field. Expertise in project management is a much sought-after skill set in today’s competitive business landscape, making it a golden time for aspiring project managers to enter this field.

The University of Massachusetts, in collaboration with Simplilearn, offers a carefully curated online project management training program aligned with PMI-PMP® and IASSC-Lean Six Sigma. In this course, you will hone skills such as agile management, project risk management, lean Six Sigma green belt, and customer experience design. You will work on capstone projects and earn 146 PDUs that you can use for PMI-related certifications.

You might also like to read:

How to Measure Project Success? A 2024 Guide

Remote Project Management: How to Manage Remote Teams Effectively

What are Project Management Skills? Here are Top Skills You should Know in 2024

A Project Management Process Primer

Why Study Project Management? Top 5 Reasons

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Project Management Bootcamp

Duration

6 months

Learning Format

Online Bootcamp

Program Benefits