Formulating a Project Team

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Project team formulation requires a host of creative inputs. You' re going to bring together a team whose collective mission is to produce the project' s deliverables. You' l l need business experts, IT experts in every genre the project is involved with, testers, architectural experts, and so forth. On top of that, there ' s the whole reporting-structure question: Eo your team members report to you during the project, or do they continue to report to their ordinary supervisor? Eo you prepare their reviews, does their original boss, or do you come up with some sort of compromise? Additionally, motivating team members can be a very difficult challenge (especially for a project that team members don 't believe in).

Note In the exam objectives, team-building means assembling your team, not "teambuilding" in the current HR sense of working to increase unity and morale.

Tip Objective 2.5 says you begin your team-building scenario with a

WBS. This stands for work breakdown structure, an integral component of any project and a topic we' l l talk about in Chapter 8.

Eoubtless, your project is going to demand the use of certain IT specialties. If you' re lucky enough to work in an environment large enough to have a plethora of experts within any of the specialties, and you have the liberty of picking from among them, you' re very lucky indeed. All you have to do is assemble the list of names of people that qualify for each task, interview them, and pick the one that you think fits best for each area that you require. This is an ideal situation.

But this model has no resemblance to most folks ' reality. In most cases, you have possibly one player who can perform some of the tasks outlined in your project, while other areas either go unfilled or you re forced to fill them with people who are, at best, only moderately qualified to do what needs done . . . which represents training required for the person doing the work, which means a time delay.

Some tasks can only be adequately fulfilled by a contractor. For example, the delivery, unpacking, setup, and configuration of hardware components as high-tech as dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) multiplexors is something that only an expert in the field should be involved in. While a junior team member might be itchin ' to get at the gear, you respect the fact that SMEs who could configure these things in their sleep are probably the best choice to complete the task.

There are different kinds of people that a project may require, people with various backgrounds and functional capabilities. As you research the requirements of the project and assess the tasks required, you' l l identify the skills you require, pinpoint the people who may be involved, bring them in, and interview them. Your interview questions need to be written in such a way that you get at the meat of the skill you require, so that you can accurately determine whether the interviewee can do the job or not. Since you ' re not an SME in all areas, you may need assistance from others in some areas of expertise to formulate your interview questions.

Following are some of the kinds of folks that get involved in most projects (regardless of size):

Business experts/SMEs By this, we' re not talking about people who are expert at the business of business; we ' re talking about those who understand the line of business that will use your project' s deliverables. It is vital that you appoint at least one business expert or SME who can assist you in keeping on course toward the completion of deliverables that meet the business' needs. If you don't do this, and you merely assume that you understand the line of business, likely as not you' l l produce a deliverable that will only be moderately satisfactory.

Here' s the deal with business experts in IT projects: It' s important to look for a business expert who' s also IT-savvy. You don' t need someone who writes C++ code in her spare time, but you need someone who has a clue about how IT works and who can drive a computer. Otherwise, you're going to spend a lot of your time translating, coming up with metaphors, and explaining IT concepts—huge time-wasters.

Leadership You also need leaders who are members of your team, even if they're only minor participants. You need leadership not only from a managerial standpoint, but also from the viewpoint of a technical team lead.

Managerial leaders are needed to help keep the project's visibility high and to act as cheerleaders for the project in management meetings. They're also good for helping manage hot spots or problem employees. It's important that they understand what the project is going to do, though they don't necessarily have to have a strong technical understanding of what it will accomplish.

Technical team leaders can be helpful as cheerleaders, as architectural control personnel, and as technical advisors for their business area. While team leaders may not have a large technical background, they can certainly explain how their systems work and how your project will integrate with them.

Administrators You need support from executive and mid-management leaders, especially in the area of cheerleading. Keep in mind that budget leaders, the CFO, the budget czar—whatever they're called in your area—are an invaluable source of help, especially during crises; it's very important to foster good relationships with them.

Perhaps the best way that you can help yourself in this area is to be very good about communicating what the project's about and what you're doing with it. Although you don't want to beat people over the head with your project, you do want to keep it in the forefront of their minds.

Technical experts Typically, an IT project utilizes more technical expertise than you might at first have thought necessary. For example, with most systems in which a user crosses a wire to talk to a server and a database, there are security implications involved that may require not only the assistance of server, but also database as well as security administrators.

Up-front dialog with the primary technicians that you have working on the project will go a long way toward yielding information regarding which technical persons you might accidentally overlook.

Stakeholders Some stakeholders will have a presence on your team. Specifically, vendors and contractors will always be a part of your team. Other stakeholders will have an interest in the project not because of any assistance the project's deliverables will provide to them, but because of the impact the deliverables will have on them, their infrastructures, or their systems. Probably the most hidden stakeholder consists of people in the department that handles the network infrastructure—the cabling plant, switches, hubs, routers, and WAN circuitry.

Another frequently overlooked stakeholder is the corporate educator. If you ' re building a project intranet site, for example, designed for people to key in their projects in a centralized place, your corporate educators need to know because they ' l l likely be training people how to use the site. Not only that, but they might have to train people about how to utilize good project management skills before they can learn how to use the project intranet site!

Eiscovery meetings at project initiation time can pinpoint who the stakeholders are in a given project.

You can probably think of other folks that fit into any particular project you have going. And that ' s the real idea behind this little chapter section— to get you thinking about who needs to know what the project is about and where it' s headed.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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