A TIME AND
Assemble a successful team by finding
the right people at the right time.
BY DEBORAH A. DELL, PMP
Deborah (Debi) A. Dell, PMP, is the manager of the
Project Management Center of Excellence at IBM,
a PMI Global Executive Council member. She works
from her home in Delray Beach, Florida, USA.
pare candidates to your inventory of assignment
requirements and team dynamics.
Some may feel that picking team members based
on documented history and performance is the
easiest approach. While it works, this method does
not guarantee a cohesive team. Instead, consider
selecting the project manager first (if you are not
the lead), then finding team members who can
complement his or her style. Select individuals
with the right abilities and the personality for the
project. Does this initiative require a lot of difficult
client interaction? Will the team need to keep calm
under fire, with project requirements constantly
in flux? Are there ambiguities to the project specs
that would be best suited to an investigative sort?
The better you know the project, the better you can
find the personality traits that will suit it and build
a stronger team.
Of course, sometimes you have to staff a project
not with the perfect fit but instead with the person
who happens to be between assignments. If you
find yourself facing this proposition, remember
that having the proper analysis and mapping can
help you negotiate for what you need.
Project performance is more than meeting
schedules and costs: It is achieving the results by
leveraging the team’s strengths, weaknesses, suc-
cess and failures. Pairing the right team members
with the right projects equals strong team perfor-
mance. If done effectively, staffing can improve the
project results and team performance. PM
A great team is more than the sum of its parts.
However creating a great dynamic and a sense of
cohesion doesn’t happen by accident. Project staffing requires careful attention to both experience
and people skills.
Most organizations use a formal application
and interview process when selecting project team
members. At some organizations, teams are staffed
based largely on availability or the need to move
practitioners forward in their career. At others, individual styles, interests and characteristics are carefully considered to ensure team cohesiveness. No
matter how it’s done, creating an ace team comes
down to finding people with the right skills and
complementary personalities—at the right time.
Whether staffing is done by a portfolio manager,
an executive or a project management office (PMO)
director, he or she must understand the characteristics of the project and the desired results. Note any
special project parameters, like language and cataloging initial assignments. If staffing more than one
project at a time, this step will also provide insight
into overlapping skills and responsibilities.
Project leads often overstaff in the belief that more
is better. To avoid this, develop a “roles and responsibilities” matrix to determine the skills needed to
accomplish the desired project results. This will also
clarify the number of team members required.
The next step is to find qualified individuals to
fill the slots. These employees may be previous or
current teammates. Your organization may have a
database or tool that allows employees to apply for
project openings. Look at résumés, CVs and performance appraisals, if possible. Have discussions
with former managers and team members. Com-