Acquiring and Developing the Project Team

by Joseph_Phillips on January 7, 2013

In order to complete a project the project manager needs something special – the project team! The project team is the collection of individuals that will actually be doing the work as defined in the project plan. They’re the experts, the resources, and the roles that the project manager has to oversee and work with in order to get the project to its glorious finish.

So how does it work in your organization? Does the project team get assigned to the project manager or does the project manager get to cherry pick the project team members? Your organization’s policies and procedures will likely outline how the project team is built, or inherited, by the project manager. Every organization is different, and the culture and organizational structure will influence how the project team is created. Certainly project priority, the project sponsor, and good old politics come into play when it comes to which project team member you’re assigned or allowed to have on your project.

Often the project team is comprised of not just internal resources but contracted resources that’ll play a role on the project team. When a contractor is brought onto the project team the project manager and the vendor need to communicate about how the contractor will serve as part of the project team – not just as a placed or contracted employee. No doubt there’ll be expectations between the project manager, management, the vendor, and the contracted employee as to their roles and responsibilities on the project team. It’s paramount to clarify any assumptions and detail the expectations of all parties before the project work commences.

Ideally, the project team is collocated – meaning the project team can work side-by-side with one another. A collocated project team communicates easier, can be more civil, and can move the project work along by joining efforts and creating synergy. Knowing that we don’t live in an ideal world, however, collocated teams are falling prey to virtual teams. A virtual team is just a nice way of saying non-collocated. Individuals are dispersed around the globe and they rely on collaborative software, email, and telephones to communicate and work together.

Virtual teams do bring some real benefits to a project:

  • Project managers can use people from all around the world to participate in the project.
  • Project managers can use experts from other parts of the world that may not be local to where the project is being hosted.
  • Project team members can work from home.
  • Project team members don’t all have to work the same hours to complete their project assignments.
  • Organizations can use people with mobility handicaps.
  • Organizations can realize a cost savings by reducing travel expenses.
  • Software and the internet make working remotely easier for everyone.

While I paint a pretty picture on non-collocated teams there are some pitfalls as well:

  • Communication becomes more difficult due to the constraints of non face-to-face meeting.
  • Ad hoc meetings become nearly impossible.
  • Project team members may abuse the distance of the project team by being unavailable, avoiding communications, or delaying responses to work queries.
  • Project team members may feel isolated from other members of the project team.
  • The project manager may succumb to an out-of-sight out-of-mind mentality.

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