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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

To be brutally honest, one of the worst first steps you can take to build a team is to say, “Any volunteers?” It is not that volunteering for a team project is bad per se. It is that the ones who volunteer may or may not be the best representatives to add to your team. Their motivations are right and their desire is strong, but do they have the right qualities to fit the project being developed?

Selecting a project team is one of the most important steps your company takes towards meeting the project goals. The core team must include the people who can work cohesively with others while fulfilling individual team responsibilities. Team participants are always wearing two hats at once: as a member of a group and as a talented individual.

Knowing how important it is to select the right project team, it is amazing how many times a project starts off on the wrong foot simply because those volunteers the project leader was so happy to get cannot seem to work as a team.

Team Pivot Points

In process control there are critical points which determine project direction. One wrong decision and the whole process can collapse. That is how you want to think about choosing project team members. Each member is a “critical point”. The person you select to join the team will be a pivot point throughout the entire process. The team member will make individualised decisions during the project and those decisions must mesh with the pivotal decisions being made by other team participants.

This may sound somewhat obvious, but if it was so obvious, there would not be failed projects. Aligning a team for success is essential and it begins with assessing skill requirements. There may also be team members who come from outside the organisation because of technical or sponsor requirements.

Those assembling the team must ask certain questions which will enable the selection of expert members who will always work towards keeping team progress on track through skills application, motivation, and the ability to be a mini-leader within their own set of responsibilities.

  • Identify the project goals
  • Define the technical and management responsibilities built into the project
  • Identify project leaders who will form the core group
  • Determine the business internal and external representatives required and needed for project success
  • Analyse available internal human resources which meet project needs
  • Identify available qualified external representatives to interface between project team and sponsor, vendors or other external groups which are essential to project success
  • Select skilled representatives

A Quality Set of People

Putting the right effort into creating a quality project team designed for success is the same as creating a critical path composed of human resources. The key is to select those individuals who have a quality set which matches project requirements.

  • Project leader or manager who understands intricacies of the project
  • Project manager who has the right leadership skills to manage the team
  • Skilled team members who can effectively handle technical requirements of the project
  • External representatives who bring essential knowledge to the team
  • Consultants and specialists

But even after selecting the right team in terms of technical and leadership abilities, there is still one more important consideration. The team members must be willing to operate as a team member and not as a lone operator. Personalities, communication skills, and the personal goals of team members will impact the likelihood of project success just as much as the actual skills participants possess.

You don’t want only “volunteers” on your team; you want people whose skills match the project needs. That is why so many companies get professional assistance building and developing the team, because it is that initial process which usually determines the end result.

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