This post is the third in McLaughlin & McLaughlins Project Professionals series of discussions regarding current challenges being encountered in today’s efforts/environment associated with the human resource aspects of your project management team.  More specifically, we have titled the series STAFFING YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEAM, and we intend to focus heavily on the managerial aspects of human resource planning and acquisition.  This post focuses on acquiring the human resources (people) or staffing.  While the planning may be the most important activity or action in the process, the challenge ultimately is obtaining the people to implement your intended execution strategy.  There are many acquisition strategies.  These acquisition strategies differ for various market conditions, organizational situations, project needs and other project variables.

Please RememberTeams of people [not machines and not software] build projects.  Consequently, if you cannot acquire the requisite staffing, you are not prepared to execute the project [at least as planned].

Please Remember –This is a team, not a group of individuals.  Have you noticed that so many sports teams with superstars rarely win championships?  Further, have you noticed that championship teams have few, if any, superstars?  It is the project team, not the individual that must be staffed and developed.

In order to present this topic in a logical manner and with an industry-recognized lexicon, we are using the PMI Project Management Processes for a Project as presented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

Sources that are used in this post are:

Marketplace conditions in high demand industries [e.g. oil and gas projects, mining projects] or skill-sets [project controls personnel, project planners and schedulers, etc.] create unique challenges in identifying and assembling a quality project management team.  In these situations one must craft the Human Resource Plan with full recognition of the scarce resource environment.  Unique approaches [e.g. managing contractors, mentors with apprentices, virtual or cyber teams] may be the best choice and this is part of the execution planning process.

The acquisition process differs for differing organizations and types of projects.  PMBOK® provides guidance regarding the generic planning and management process (PMBOK, CHAPTER 9).  This can be adapted to the organizational structure and project specifics.

This PMBOK® process is structured around the following:

  • Inputs – Project Management Plan, Enterprise environmental factors and Organizational process assets”
  • Tools and Techniques – Pre-assignment, Negotiation, Acquisition and Virtual teams”
  • Output – Project staff assignments, Resource calendars and Project Management Plan updates”

Inputs – The general inputs are cited above.  In prior posts, M&M has discussed the development of the Project Management Plan. In preparing and implementing this plan, one must fully factor in the marketplace conditions (please see above).  The availability (or non-availability) of human resources in the marketplace will greatly influence many aspects of the plan.  Certainly, acquisition of external resources must be tempered and influenced by the relevant marketplace.  As discussed above, hot/active industries or hot/active skill-set situations are very problematic.  This is one of the most challenging aspects of planning related to large and complex projects.

Tools and Techniques – Pre-Assignment is the practice of advanced selection coupled with a firm commitment.  This creates a stable core for the team.  Living by, or honoring, the commitment is important.  Often, internal negotiations with Functional Managers or other Project Managers are required and/or beneficial.  This can bring quality people resources to the team or free the project manager to pursue external sourcing.  External sources include vendors, suppliers, contractors, individual consultants [free-lancers, 1099’ers, etc.].  The concept of virtual or cyber teams expands the project manager’s options.  Considerations include: teams from the same company in widespread geographical locations, specialized expertise, work-from-home situations, differing shift requirements, mobility issues [disabilities], and the high cost of travel and living expenses.  Projects in remote locations are particularly good candidates for this execution concept.

Output – The project manager and her/his staff need to firm up the commitments as they emerge.  Staffing assignments, updated organization charts and announcements serve this purpose.  Resource calendars with mobilization and demobilization timeframes give a basis for planning and updating the project budget/cost estimate.  Most importantly, they give stability to key personnel, stakeholders and subject matter experts [SME’s].  Similarly, it is important to update the Project Management Plan with this progress and the decisions.  Finally, press releases or announcements can serve to attract other needed talent.

Kerzner addresses the subject in (among other places) Chapter 4 ORGANIZING AND STAFFING THE PROJECT OFFICE AND TEAM. Several of his key topics are:

  • “4.8 The Organizational Staffing Process”
  • “4.10 The Functional Team”
  • “4.11 The Project Organizational Chart”
  • “4.13 Selecting the Project Management Implementation Team”

Regarding selecting the Project Management Implementation Team [4/13], Kerzner identifies the following desirable project team personal characteristics:

  • “Initiators”
  • “Information Seekers”
  • “Information Givers”
  • “Encouragers”
  • “Clarifiers”
  • “Harmonizers”
  • “Consensus takers”
  • ‘Gate Keepers”

In the next post, we will continue to address issues, problems and solutions often encountered in acquiring the human resources for your Project Management Team.  The subsequent posts will also address issues in selecting and acquiring the project manager.  A strong and well qualified project manager will heavily influence the success of the project.

Good luck and let us be realistic and professional in the acquisition of people [staffing] for your project management team.  You must acquire the requisite quantity of personnel and skill-sets needed to implement your intended project execution strategy.  Otherwise, the execution strategy must be changed.  This is part of the interactive planning process.  M&M wishes you happy reading and good luck in your project management challenges and endeavors.

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