Project Team Definition and covering the resource gap

Resourcing is a key component of any projects success or failure, to underestimate the importance of a project team, is at the project managers peril. Frequently, projects are executed with teams of inadequate size and composition, due to budget or internal skill-set. Other factors include poor comprehension of the nature and amount of the work to be done, and a superficial or in-existent analysis of the required skills in the team members.

To engineer the project team is an important process to be done carefully. To do that, it’s fundamental first to have a clear understanding of the nature of the scope of the work. A good requirements elicitation, a correct project scope definition and a detailed work breakdown structure are key process to ensure the comprehension of work that the project involve.

Once the work breakdown structure is clear, is the moment to meditate on the preassigned human resources to the project team. Is it suitable in quantity and quality? The organization has a fixed staff, or the organization hire people to create a dedicated team for the project? Probably the answer will depend on the organization and in the particular project.

To define the team, the first step is to assign to each activity or work package, the required number of people with their associated qualifications or expertise. Once finished this exercise, it’s necessary to check the time frame of the execution of the tasks. For instance, if several activities that requires the same specialists can be done in sequence, the number of persons to consider in the team are few than in the case if the activities should be executed in parallel.

This optimization can only be possible when the problem is quantitative (number of people), but not in the case in which the resource gap is qualitative. For instance, if the project requires a doctor in robotics, the project cannot be delivered with who don’t have knowledge in robotics, even if sponsors provide double or triple the time. This is obvious, but frequently is forgotten. In this instance there is a degree of freedom: by trading off the number of people with the execution time. The same set of activities can be executed slower with less people or faster with more people. Therefore, there is an optimization analysis to be done. Off course, this analysis is constrained in certain limits. For example, a task originally planned to do with three people can be accelerated if there is an introduction of two additional persons, but if ten extra people are added, they will obstruct the fluid development of the task. In this case entropy is being produced, and the task will not be finished early.

An instrument or tool to identify the gap of skilled people in the project team is the resource gap table, as depicted below

Being conscious of the project team resource gap is important in the planning process. It is useful to ask for resources, time or, in the worst case, at least to be conscious of the risks and communicate them opportunely to stakeholders.

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