How to effectively find a high-performing project team?

I previously shared the importance of structuring high-performing teams and putting together a resource matrix that consists of activities and the type of skills and personalities needed to fulfill them. In this article, I’m going to delineate the types of resources and how to fill these roles. But first, let me share the three types of project roles we will often need for project success.

What are the 3 essential project roles?

Project Manager

For any project to be successful, it is necessary to have a project manager (PM) as they are the person who will hold the whole thing together. I have a separate video on this, so I won’t delve into it here. Once the PM is in place, then we can understand how to fill the roles of the other team members. Often, the PM can help define the requirements for the additional team members.

Business Analyst or Consultant

The 2nd role to consider is a business analyst or consultant. This person will perform the bulk of the research, fact-gathering, analysis, and presentation on the project. They may act as a liaison translating the business unit’s requirements into actionable deliverables for the project. Depending on the size of the project, we might have multiple people in this role, each responsible for a different work stream.

Subject Matter Expert (SME)

The 3rd role I would consider is the subject matter expert (SME). How critical this role is depends on the project’s scope and the specialization of knowledge, for example areas we’d need experts might be anti-money laundering, technology, and/or cybersecurity.  Because these are often specialized functions, it’s important that we have the subject matter experts to provide perspective on our assessment of the current situation, as well as on our understanding of what will and won’t work for action plans going forward.

Where to find the resources?

Once we have defined the project roles for the specific project at hand, then we can begin to fill those roles.  Here are some ways to find the resources.

1.  Internal resources

The first place to look is internally or to see if the client has anyone they can offer up.  Sometimes there are no internal people available, but when there are this is the best-case scenario all around and is often mutually beneficial. Though this avenue is often underused, this can be a win-win situation!

It provides the external consultant with the opportunity to gain an inside perspective of the client’s operation which minimizes their learning curve and ramp-up time. Aside from alleviating frustrations on the consultant side, this also saves the client time and money. At the same time, the internal resource deepens their knowledge and expertise through working with the consultant and can utilize the consultant’s processes and tools on future projects and in their career.

2. Personal Networks

If we haven’t filled out our team with internal resources, our second and third avenues would be to leverage personal and LinkedIn networks. To effectively network, however, we first will create a job specification which includes the type of work, required knowledge and skills, length of the project, whether it’s full-time or part-time, and what is the rate range for the work. Start by looking at our personal networks of those we’ve worked with and know their capabilities, approximate rate, and availabilities can be a big help when timing is tight.

3. LinkedIn

The third place I would look is on LinkedIn. Since we are generally unable to see the specifics from a Linkedin profile, I often leverage my 2nd and 3rd connections to facilitate an introduction and then get an understanding of the capabilities, availabilities, and rate ranges.  

4. Staffing companies and recruiters

The fourth place to turn is external resource providers and staffing companies, which is why it is important to maintain a solid relationship with a recruiter so that we can move quickly should the need arise. It is even recommended to have a standing contract or retainer in place. The recruitment market is very dynamic and can move at a frightening speed making it difficult to get the right person with a specific skill set at the right time. This has always been the case, but it is particularly exacerbated with the pandemic’s effect on employment and recruitment. It can be extremely challenging to get qualified people right now.

What to do if all options are exhausted and we still can’t find the resources needed?

Sometimes the viability of the project depends heavily on the resources that are available at the time. If we can’t find resources to fill some, or all, of the roles, it’s worth revisiting the project scope and plan to retrofit it to the resources available. The other option might be to wait, but often that isn’t doable — especially if it’s a regulatory mandate.

This is the perfect time to collaborate with the client and try to agree on what can be accomplished with the resources we do have, that way we avoid going forward and wasting time and money. Often the issue isn’t that we don’t have any resources, but rather that the resources we do have may not be able to perform all the work originally envisioned. Then, we get to collaborate with the client to answer the question, ‘how do we do the work ahead of us with the resources we have?’ Some of the solutions lie in using more thoughtful processes and smartly leveraging tools and systems, but more about that in future articles.

To learn more about ALLIA and what we do to optimize your projects including resourcing, planning and scoping, change management, and risk management, reach out to me at lshen@alliaconsulting.com or check us out at www.alliaconsulting.com

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