Managing a Project Team

There is nothing more important to the success of a project than the people who make up the project team. Without good people - who possess the knowledge, experience, and motivation to get the job done - all of your other planning will be quickly wasted. Putting together a project team is one of the very first steps of setting up a new project. Without the people to compose a quality team, you won't be able to make very much progress at all into the work that needs to be done.

Assembling a good team is important in any phase of business, but it is especially important when managing a project to make sure that the work can get done on time and on budget. The process of acquiring a project team takes place within the executing processes and is concerned with confirming human resource availability and obtaining the personnel needed to complete project assignments.

It is complicated by the fact that individuals with different skills sets will be required at different points throughout the project. For example, a software project may be two-thirds completed before specialist testing personnel are needed. Consequently, acquiring members for a project team continues throughout the executing process group.

Acquiring the project team is often complicated by the fact that the project management team will not usually have direct control over everyone they would like to have involved in the project. They may need to negotiate with others who are in a position to provide the right number of individuals with the appropriate level of knowledge skills and experience.

Managing a Project Team

This situation is very common in projects that cut across departmental boundaries and failure to secure the necessary human resources can affect project schedules, budgets, customer satisfaction and quality, as well as increasing the risk that the project will simply fail to deliver on time and within budget. The impact of any unavailability of required human resources needs to be considered in the planning stages of the project.

There are generally two ways of building a team for a project - assembling in-house talent, and bringing in people from the outside. There are pros and cons to both methods, and a big project will likely need a blend of the two in order to succeed.

In-house Resources
• Using people who are already within the organization is beneficial because they likely have knowledge relevant to the purpose of the project, even if the project is venturing into a new area for the company.
• Many of the skills that they currently use on a regular basis will likely transfer to the project tasks that they take on.
• Additionally, they are already on the payroll and won't cause you to incur some of the other expenses associated with bringing on new talent.

External Resources
However, looking outside the organization is necessary at times depending on what skills will be required.
• Need specialist skills during the project
• One way to have sufficient quantity of a scare resource.
• You are venturing into a new area that isn't normally dealt with in your organization, bringing in new people who are experienced within that field is almost required for success.

If people are being brought in from outside of the organization, then the procurement plan should be referenced to ensure such external resources are obtained in accordance with organizational policy.

These new people could come in the way of full-time employees, part-time employees, or even contractors that you work with for a defined period of time. For each potential member of the project team you need to use a variety of different measures in the decision making process.

Project team requirements

No matter who winds up composing your team, or where you acquire them from, building the right kind of team for the project is among the very top priorities of a project manager. Technology has made it easier and easier for companies to work with talented individuals all around the world, so there is really no excuse for not finding the perfect talent for the task at hand.

Projects require specialized resources with the skills, competencies and experience to fill a variety of critical roles. Equally important to determining which skills and how much experience is needed for project roles is the requirement to fill those roles with resources that actually possess those skills and competencies.

Examples of specialized and dedicated resources on large projects would be a risk manager or communications manager. These individuals must have a background and experience in their expertise. In some cases, where appropriate, project-specific training and development will take place to ensure that the project is not impacted by performance gaps.

Project HR Management

This topic deals with getting people on board the project and then, leading and managing them effectively. In this eBook we use the terms:

'Project team' or 'Team members' to refer to those people doing the actual work of the project.
'Project management team' to refer to anyone involved with managing the project.

The project management team is usually a subset of the project team and is responsible for the project management and leadership activities such as initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing the various project phases.

The number of people assigned to the project may change as the project progresses, particularly when people are needed for their particular technical expertise. This can be related to either the production of the end products of the project or for project management support skills like scheduling, quality or risk management expertise.

The project team should be assigned to the project as early as possible so that they can take some part in the planning process. Even though team members are not responsible for planning as such, many of them will have specific expertise that can help to make the initial estimates more accurate.

Another reason for involving team members in the early stages of planning is that it strengthens commitment to the project, something that is vital for success but which is often overlooked because it cannot be measured objectively and because it's importance only becomes apparent when the project hits problems.

This topic is explained in detail in the 'Managing a Project Team' eBook, which can be downloaded from this website. It is right at the heart of successful project management because project work is actually done by people, not by project management methodologies, frameworks or software.

Matrix Management Issues

Obviously, all of these things can help but ultimately project management is about managing the people who are going to do the work of the project and this is often conducted in a matrix management environment. This style of management is popular in highly collaborative projects that bring individuals from functional departments (e.g. marketing, customer services, finance, etc.) into the project team.

This means that most of the project members operate under a dual authority system - they report to their own line manager as well as the project manager. For you as the project manager this means that you will have to ensure your communication channels between you and the line managers are effective and must be addressed in your communications management plan.

In addition, appreciating that the line managers' priorities are often going to be different to those of your project will help you when discussing the availability of resources. If not handled properly, this has the potential for conflict and confusion, which will inevitably lead to a decrease in performance.

One key aspect of maintaining your team's performance in this matrix structure is getting the 'right' resources at the time required by the plan. If your team members are willing but lack the necessary skills to perform their project role then the whole team's performance will decline.

Matrix Management and Project Structure

The success of the matrix team structure is reliant on senior management's support for the project and for establishing the correct procedures and processes that support this type of environment. You can check out the complete range of project management pdf eBooks free from this website.

You may also be interested in:
Managing a Project Team | Developing the Project HR Plan | Building an Effective Project Team | Developing the Project Team | Dealing with Conflict in the Project Team | Planning Project Communications | Optimizing Project Communications | Managing Project Communications | Identifying Project Stakeholders | Keeping Project Stakeholders Informed.

Key Points

  • The project team should be assigned to the project as early as possible so that they can take some part in the planning process as many of them will have specific expertise that can help to make the initial estimates more accurate.
  • Early involvement also strengthens commitment to the project, something that is vital for success but which is often overlooked.
  • To build a project team a combination of in-house talent, and bringing in people from the outside is the most efficient way to satisfy the demand for skills and expertise.
  • Matrix management and its associated environment are increasingly used to perform projects.
  • Writing a Communication Management Plan is an essential to successfully manage the human element of a project.

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