At first glance, the jobs of project manager and resource manager look very similar. Both involve ensuring that projects have the right people and resources in the right place at the right time. Both utilize similar sets of skills: organization, planning, negotiation, and keeping yourself and others to a schedule. But if you are thinking of applying for either of these roles, it is worth considering the differences between them.
All projects have completion dates. As a project manager you may be working on several projects at once, but each one is finite. You can focus on your projects and as long as you have the necessary resources, you don't have to worry excessively. A resource manager, on the other hand, typically works at the organization level and is responsible for juggling resources between a range of different projects.
Resource managers usually work in project management companies, making sure that resources, particularly people, are available for projects. They often report to an organization's operations director or person in a similar role. A project manager has much more flexibility and independence. Although technically they may have a line manager, a project manager usually reports to a project board. The project board can be comprised of people from different areas both inside and outside the organization. They meet only when necessary and only to make critical decisions and check that the project is on track.
From two-day intensive courses to master's degrees, there are lots of training opportunities and qualifications for project managers. In contrast, there is very little specialist training for the resource manager role. Many resource manager roles have grown from administrative and human resources functions. Additional training may have been provided for particular skills but people are seldom qualified resource managers.
Project managers usually start their careers working in organizations. However, many become self-employed or move on to major program management. There is no obvious parallel career progression for resource managers. However, as the two roles have so many skills in common, it is quite possible for a resource manager to retrain as a project manager.
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