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Project Team

Key Question: Does each team member have the most appropriate experience for their respective role(s)?

"Sometimes projects get staffed by the 'who is available?' method. This is then justified by the 'it will be a good learning experience' theory. In fact, the only lesson that may be learned is that this is the absolute worst way to staff a project. Unfortunately, this staffing method occurs in both the technical team as well as the subject matter expert team. The reasoning behind this method defies all logic. On the business side, the best people within the organization tend to be the people who have the knowledge needed for the project's success - the true subject matter experts. However, because the project is not viewed as 'the real job' even though it has extreme strategic importance, functional heads will not release these people to work on the project. Managers often say, 'You cannot get Billy and Susie, so I'll give you Crusty, Dusty and Rusty'. The problem is that Crusty, Dusty and Rusty probably cannot accurately depict the business processes that need to be done; they are the ones who have been put aside and passed around because they couldn't cut it."

"The technical management team often does the same thing. It assigns people that are available regardless of their technical skills (this sometimes applies to external service providers too, so beware). Also, external edicts such as 'no new hires' or 'no outside consultants' put boundaries around a staffing manager that reduce the number of effective options. Again, the logic is baffling when it comes to a multimillion-dollar, cross-functional project. You cannot expect a technician right out of training to be an expert. The optimal team should have a mixture of experience but never to the detriment of the project's success."

"Many troubled project have compromised on the experience of the technical and subject matter expert team. If the project is important, you've got to put the right people on it."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.