Monday, 1 September 2014

A Resource Plan? Better think "Establishing your Project Team"

Your Project isn't going to deliver it's objectives without establishing a good team with the right mix of skills, experience and structure. This post deals with the planning considerations when Initiating the project. Although you might call it a Resource Plan, it is much better to get into the mindset of establishing your Project team. You also need to start considering a number of human factors, a topic I have addressed in another post.
Establishing a good Project team with the right mix of skills, experience and structure

Resource Plan - Existing resources, new resources, third party organisations or a mixture

When you Initiate a project you need to understand any resourcing constraints / assumptions such as "you will utilise the existing team augmenting as necessary". Utilising existing team members offers some benefits (organisational domain knowledge, often proven skills) but also some risks (do they retain BAU responsibilities which might mean they are not allocated to the project work as planned?)

Then as you undertake Planning and Estimating you will start developing your Resource Plan. I typically use the same spreadsheet which will eventually drive the required budget.

If you are using temporary resources (e.g. contractors) you need to establish recruitment time into planning. Normally rolling off such resources from the Project is fairly straightforward and dictated by contracts established.


Third party organisations may need a longer lead time to negotiate and agree contracts. Hopefully the organisation already has the relationship established (e.g. a master contract) because if you need to search the market first this will be additional time. Third party organisations typically allow some more resourcing flexibility during Project execution (maybe less recruitment headaches) but beware the danger of meeting the "top team" during pre-sales discussion only to be faced with the fresh faced graduates when the list of names for the Project execution comes through :-)

Attitude, Skills, Knowledge and Personality

Attitude, Skills, Knowledge and Personality all need to be considered in building the Project team and I have put them in the order of importance to me - I would rather have someone with the right attitude who will go the extra mile above someone with more skills but clearly there is a balance to be struck! Undertake a SWOT analysis of the emerging team definition and consider how you are going to address weaknesses you see?

Project Organisation

With small project teams (ideally located in one site) you can manage everyone directly. With bigger teams or ones spread over different sites and/or with 3rd party suppliers, you need to introduce a team structure with team leads in particular areas who you can interface to and they manage their teams.

Consider your span of control, the number of people who you can directly interface to will vary with project but I personally doubt you can be fully effective with more than around 10 people to interface to and that is when they are all in one office.

I would recommend that:
  • you define roles and responsibilities for these team leads having clear accountabilities
  • you document this structure in the Project Definition along with the wider Project Organisation (Sponsor, Project Board etc)

Conclusion

You can have the best Gantt chart in the world but Projects are delivered by people organised into a team structure to deliver effective results. So give this a lot of consideration when Initiating a Project.

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