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Project Team

"The project team will make or break the project. The project team can be separated into several key segments or groups that have their own challenges. The core project team refers to the resources that are dedicated to the project full-time and possibly a few that have part-time involvement, but who are directly responsible for the results. The business stakeholders are affected by the outcome of the project and are needed to provide resources to supply business requirements and for accepting the final result. The business sponsors have funded the project or are empowered by those funding the project to make decisions on their behalf."

Common Problems

"The table below identifies some of the common problems that are encountered within the project team category, key considerations, and some suggested questions that can be included in an assessment questionnaire."
Problem Description
Suggested Questions
Lack of skills
Identify the specific skills that are required for the position and when they are required. Try and use just in time training approaches to ensure that all the resources have the relevant skills they need in order for the project to succeed. You might also want to use mentoring or coaching techniques to ease resources into their roles.
Is a lack of skills causing the project to fail? Will this be a problem in the future? How are skill requirements being determined? By whom? By project resource, what specific skills are required and when? What is the most effective and cost effective method for training the resources?
Morale problems
The impact of poor morale is more destructive to a project's success than many other commonly occurring problems. Most projects require the best capabilities of the resources to succeed, which is just not possible if the morale is poor. You need to strike a balance between bringing the morale up so that resources will do what it takes to get the project back on track, without getting burned out. Listen to the core members of the project team to find out the reasons for the morale problems. Deal with the top reasons for the morale problems. Explain that you are implementing change to improve the morale. Some morale issues cannot be dealt with because doing so would cause the project to remain off track. For example, some team members may not want to work on the weekends to meet a deadline. This request just cannot be met if the project is to succeed. Explain this reasoning to the project team.
Are resources charing information? Are team members working cooperatively? Are resources working overtime without asking something in return? Is there a program to reward hard work without going through a lot of bureaucracy? Are team members aware that they are valued and their work is appreciated? Are team members submitting a lot of complaints?
Multiple responsibilities on different projects
Resources that work on different projects can get overly fragmented and their value begins to decrease on each initiative. Core practitioners should be dedicated to the project. If they cannot be, at least try to build a schedule that commits specific days to the project.
How many of the resources are involved in more than one project at the same time? Are the key resources dedicated to this project only?
Lack of communication
Team members can be so focused on what they are doing that they may not receive or share information that is vital to others on the project. The project rescue approach uses a project management toolkit and regular status meetings to ensure a proper level of communication.
How is information communicated between team members? Are there different e-mail lists and phone lists for different groups on the team? Is there a place where documentation can be shared electronically?
Destructive politics
Office politics are inescapable on any initiative that has more than two people. Your goal is to eliminate politics that are destructive to the project - for example, when resources are playing games that are keeping the project from making progress. An example of this could be denying previous statements that were spoken but not written down. The rescue manager and the executive sponsors need to clearly show team members that destructive politics will not be tolerated on the project. Ensure that the formal performance review processes do not reward political players.
How is individual performance measured? Is the project team working together? Are there unresolved conflicts? Who works best with whom?
Lack of direction
Resources require a clear mandate to be effective. Mandate is defined by the project scope and the business requirements. Leverage a deliverables-based focus and a detailed project plan. The project rescue manager must be clear about the direction the project is taking and provide leadership in getting there.
Where is the detailed project charter? Has the executive sponsor signed off - for example, accepted the contents of the project charter?

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.