Staffing the project with the right skills, at the right place, and at the right time is an important responsibility of the project management team. The project manager needs functional and process expertise to plan and execute a successful project.
Because projects are temporary, the staffing plan for a project typically reflects both the long-term goals of skilled team members needed for the project and short-term commitment that reflects the nature of the project. Exact start and end dates for team members are often negotiated to best meet the needs of individuals and the project. The staffing plan is also determined by the different phases of the project. Team members needed in the early or conceptual phases of the project are often not needed during the later phases or project closeout phases. Team members needed during the execution phase are often not needed during the conceptual or closeout phases. Each phase has staffing requirements, and the staffing of a complex project requires detailed planning.
Typically a core project management team is dedicated to the project from start-up to closeout. This core team would include the following members: project manager, project controls, project procurement, and key members of the function management or experts in the technology of the project. Although longer projects may experience more team turnover than shorter projects, it is important on all projects to have team members who can provide continuity through the project phases.
Some project cultures are more structured and detail oriented, and some are less structured with less formal roles and communication requirements. The type of culture the project manager creates depends greatly on the type of project.
Completing a complex project successfully requires teamwork, and teamwork requires good communication among team members. If those team members work in the same building, they can arrange regular meetings, simply stop by each other’s office space to get a quick answer, or even discuss a project informally at other office functions. Many complex projects in today’s global economy involve team members from widely separated locations, and the types of meetings that work within the same building are not possible.
Communications technologies require a variety of compatible devices, software, and service providers, and communication with a global virtual team can involve many different time zones. Establishing effective communications requires a communications plan.
Almost by definition, projects require teamwork, and team members must communicate with each other for a variety of reasons and by a number of possible methods. For instance, team members frequently need to update each other on their progress and may employ such means of communication as email, project management software, or social media. Available technology can greatly facilitate such tasks and assure timely and accurate communication between team members.
Such technologies include:
- Communication technologies
- Short Message Services (SMS), commonly referred to as texting
- Video conferencing and chat services, like Skype
- Blogs and wikis, like WordPress and Mediawiki
- Microblogging services like TwitterDocument and calendar sharing services like Google Docs
- Postal and shipping services
- Desktop software tools
- Microsoft Office or Open Office Suite
- Visual design and mockup software like Balsamiq
- Project management software like Microsoft Project or OpenProject
Choosing which communication resource(s) to use on any given project is a critical decision and should be driven by the needs of the project. Generally speaking, simple projects will require fewer communication resources, while larger, multifaceted projects may require more specialized or complex tools and software.
Software tools are constantly changing. Wikipedia maintains a relatively up-to-date listing of various project management programs and their features.
Risk exists on all projects. The role of the project management team is to understand the kinds and levels of risks on the project and then to develop and implement plans to mitigate these risks. Risk represents the likelihood that an event will happen during the life of the project that will negatively affect the achievement of project goals. The type and amount of risk varies by industry type, complexity, and phase of the project. The project risk plan will also reflect the risk profile of the project manager and key stakeholders. People have different comfort levels with risk, and some members of the project team will be more risk adverse than others.
The first step in developing a risk management plan involves identifying potential project risks. Some risks are easy to identify, while others are less obvious. Many industries or companies have risk checklists developed from past experience. However, no risk checklist will include all potential risks. The value of a checklist is the stimulation of discussion and thought about the potential risks on a project.
The project team then analyzes the identified risks and estimates the likelihood of the risks occurring. The team then estimates the potential impact of project goals if the event does occur. The outcome from this process may be a prioritized list of estimated project risks with a value that represents the likelihood of occurrence and the potential impact on the project.
Website where open-source software can be found, including software for managing projects: http://sourceforge.net/
Project Management textbook: http://opentextbc.ca/projectmanagement/
Project Management Ninja training modules: http://www.projectmanagement.ninja/
Project Management Handbook: https://www.projectmanagement-training.net/book/index.html
Project Management for Instructional Designers textbook: http://pm4id.org/
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