Acquiring Project Teams Tools & Techniques

June 5, 2010
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Several techniques can be used to place a complete project team in place that has a high probability of success. These include pre-assignment, negotiations, acquisition and virtual teams. Pre-assignment is about assigning people who are already available. Negotiation is required to get people who have been identified to be useful for a project and already available within the organization. You have to go out and actually recruit people if some of the positions are cannot be filled from within the organizations or with subcontractors personnel. You may even consider farming out parts of the work to reduce such staff requirements that are not currently available within an organization. You can even consider creating a virtual team when resources are not available within the boundaries of your organization location.
Project leadership and the team members will have to be adept at the tools & techniques that are appropriate to acquiring a team for the project. These are as discussed already above and involve pre-assigning people, negotiating, acquisition and virtual teams.
Pre-assignment: This technique is about assigning people who are available. This is about personnel who are kind of attached to the project right at the start. These could even be people whose availability has been considered crucial and a pre-condition for taking up the project work. This can happen in a competitive situation. It is also possible that some specific skill are a must have requirement for the project to be taken up. This can arise from situations where as part of the competitive proposal specific people and/ or specific skills available have been offered as project resources. If such a bid is won, the assignments of such personnel are essential for the execution of the project. The per-assignments of such personnel may even be documented in the project charter.
Negotiating: It is essential for project managers/ leadership of the project to be proficient in negotiations. As far as the acquisition of the team is concerned what they need to negotiate are the availability of certain personnel that are considered essential for the project. They will have to negotiate with functional managers as well as managers from other departments for making the services of such personnel available to your project. It is possible that you would be required to negotiate with your vendors too as they likely would have the required profiles at times. Availability and the skill level/competency are the subjects of negotiations quite often. Since people who are highly skilled are likely to be in positions which most managers will not like to have vacant, these skills matter a lot to ensure the relevant manager will let go. This will have to be backed up by the skill that the project manager has been able to identify the resources really well. If background study is required to ensure the candidates background matches your needs, you should be capable of identifying the skills and even the traits in the person.
Acquisition: Acquisition is simply hiring the required personnel who are not available within the organization or your collaborators organizations. Individuals or teams need to be hired for the entire project duration, some of the activities or just some particular phase of the project. You will need to interact with the recruitment machinery of your organization closely to be able to locate, attract and hire the right talent. The project leadership will have to moderate the standard processes of recruitment to suit their specific needs. These needs could well be very different from those of the standard hires. Skill requirements and hence the salary levels applicable may well be different from the company norms. In fact, their negotiating skill may be called for in such a situation to get the HR personnel to modify their approach.
Besides the salary levels there may be other aspects of the job offer that makes it attractive to the kind of personnel you are looking for. These may well be the technology in use, the work environment and even such issues like flexible work time and casual dressing norms. You will need to influence the HR team to be able to sell the right intangible to the prospects. Hiring individual consultants or farming out a part of the project activities could be considered a part of this.
Virtual Teams: Creating a virtual team could be a good alternative in todays scenario where communications technologies almost nullify the need to for the team to be working from the same physical space. Emails, audio/video conferencing, instant messaging and web based meetings can facilitate the working of the virtual teams. Itr is then possible to create teams out of people from the same company work together even though they may be geographically well dispersed. A specific domain/skill expert can participate without needing to be in the same physical area. Teams of people working from home or on different time shifts are possible.
Communications planning is crucial. Equally important issues are suitably modified HR policies with respect to setting expectations, managing communication needs, conflict resolution, sharing in success and participation in decision making.

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