Staffing the Right Resources on the Project


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Staffing the Right Resources on the Project

Many things go into the making of a successful project engagement: the online project management software you choose, the processes used to manage issues and risks, the proper estimation of budget and timeframe for project tasks and the talented project resources who comprise the project team that you manage are just a few of these. From my experience in matrix professional services organizations, it’s rare for the project manager to have much say in the actual individuals who are assigned to the team. I usually get to detail the skill sets needed and then a different gatekeeper actually assigns the specific resources based on other project workloads and current availability. 

When projects are staffed based on availability

Unfortunately, that ‘current availability’ can play a key part in the assignment of resources and can sometimes leave a project manager with a project staff that doesn’t entirely – or even adequately – meet the skill set needed to ensure proper oversight and to ensure that tasks in the project management software schedule are handled properly. It’s unfortunate, but it is also a reality that resources are sometimes are assigned to projects because they are available, not because they are necessarily the right choice for the project. Any personnel manager can tell you that staffing should always be done by first analyzing the requirements of the job, then recruiting the individual who best meets those requirements. That is the ideal situation, but in the case of staffing the project team, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Projects usually operate in a shared-resource environment. That is, the same employees are used on all projects. When it comes time to staff a new project, whoever is available is assigned. Pulling a resource off one project and assigning that individual to a new project because he/she has the right skill set and is the best match for the project needs will disrupt the first project – which certainly is not desirable. Nevertheless, assigning the wrong person to a project just because they are available makes even less sense. It creates the illusion that the project is properly staffed simply because a “body” is in the position.

Continually assess the fit of the project team

Resource allocation is one of the most critical concerns of project managers. It is also one aspect that is many times handled without much care and oversight. The key for the project manager who is ‘assigned’ a project team with little opportunity for input is to periodically assess the makeup of the project team to ensure that they have the proper skill set to handle the assigned tasks in the web-based project management software schedule.

Start early and do this often. Finding that you have the wrong resource – or a problem resource – assigned to your project very early on can help save costs and missed deadlines later in the project. Making replacements as needed at the beginning of the project can help keep the process of onboarding new resources later and performing expensive and time-consuming knowledge transfer from breaking the project budget.

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