Do Resource Managers Get the Respect They Deserve? The Empowered RMO

Author: Lindsey Marymont

A new survey uncovers the maturity of the discipline and how employers view resource managers

The Resource Management Institute (RMI) ran a first-of-its-kind survey about the state of the Resource Manager (RM), focusing mainly on the leaders of Resource Management Organisations (RMOs). My colleagues and I haven't stopped talking about it. We didn't have shouting matches or anything, but let's put it this way: If you thought you knew what resource management professionals were saying about their own discipline and how they are valued among employers, you may be surprised at what the survey uncovered. Here are some of the hottest topics we've discussed over the past few weeks.

Scarce resources

One of the scariest things about Resource Management Leaders? Their scarcity. Employers that RMI surveyed reported a high demand and perceived low availability of these key professionals (only 10% said it "was not a problem" finding skilled resource managers). The employees didn't quite see it that way, however, and their perception was that they were not in high demand. I think it's up to employers to clearly communicate a career path for in-house project managers (PMs) or program management office (PMO) leaders who are already resource managers in everything but name—but want to switch over to RM leadership. If there's a defined RM track in the company, then get junior resource managers on board for advancement and promotion to keep the best ones on staff.  For more about employer and employee disconnects in the survey, read our earlier blog.

The right stuff

Hiring managers want multi-faceted candidates for practically every job they fill. For RM Leaders, this remains the case. However, project management and project delivery were almost equal (79%) to specific RM experience (78%); and operations experience came in a close second (43%) when RMI asked employers what skills they looked for above all. Because the survey asked Enterprise IT and Professional Services employers, this makes sense: Resource managers must be holistic about resources among many PMO pressures. They must also maintain a firm grasp on how to leverage the particular processes and teams in their organisation, a skill that operations managers have in spades. Finally, RM success "lives and dies by the numbers"—it makes good sense that backgrounds in these two areas, where KPIs and ROI rule the day—will predict RM leadership success.

Show me the money

The fact that compensation levels aren't stagnant and are mostly growing was not a big surprise. What did surprise us was the wildly fluctuating salary range: Anywhere from $50 K (7%) to more than $100 K (22%). RMI experts agree—more surveys are necessary to truly understand compensation levels for RMO leaders. They also concluded that among Enterprise IT resource managers, people management responsibilities inflate compensation levels. However, they did find that among all respondents, professional certification adds to the RM's value in the eyes of employers. And 39% of employers are already having resource managers certified as Resource Management Professionals (RMPs).

The road less taken

Resource managers themselves reported that they did not often see a clear career path laid out for them in their current organisation. RMI experts believe that employers who pay attention to talent development among people in the discipline will fare better when on the talent search for the most desirable candidates. The fact that 39% already reported into a formal RMO is encouraging because it suggests a formalisation of the discipline and may begin to swing the pendulum to a more codified career path for RM leaders.

Wherever you go, there you are

The fact that most survey respondents were in Enterprise IT and professional services didn't surprise us at all. These industries possess among the highest maturity levels around. Among our clients, they tend to develop RMs for leadership roles and identify career paths for PMs or other PMO experts more readily than in less mature industries. Of course, possessing the technological enablement to truly fire-up the RM function remains crucial. We often coach our implementation teams about KeyedIn's ability to produce better RM results in the PMO based on features and functionality that allow us to forecast utilisation; run risk analysis; protect resources from burnout; make it easier for them to log time and expenses; and help them concentrate on doing what they do best. RM leaders can take these types of features and create resource capacity management processes that truly empower strategy. At the end of the day, that's definitely something to shout about. To learn more, attend the RMI webinar based on the survey, 2018 State of Resource Management: Latest Research, Best Practices.