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Forming a Project Team

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Posts: 43
Eminent Member

Forming a project team is not an easy job. I would recommend to avoid following mistakes:

Mistake #1: Not meeting with the whole team and setting goals upfront

“It’s important for the entire team to know roles and responsibilities and deliverables” right from the start, says Shami Ahuja, director of agile practice at technology consulting firm Nisum. This is why it’s a good idea to hold a kickoff meeting with all stakeholders.
“A kickoff meeting helps [define and set] expectations — and [ultimately] makes the team more self-dependent and self-organized. It also instills a higher level of accountability and ownership [of the project].”

Mistake #2: Not breaking down (big) projects into smaller pieces

“Breaking [a] large project into small, manageable pieces will make the team feel more comfortable and confident that they can successfully tackle what may seem like an impossible project and [accomplish] each task,” says Sid Soil, owner of document imaging and storage provider DOCUdavit.

To avoid leaving your team feeling overwhelmed, “take the time to understand each facet of the project.” Then “break the project into small pieces, and break those small pieces into smaller pieces if you can.” And assign each task to the team members who are best suited to accomplish them.

Mistake #3: Not prioritizing projects and/or tasks

“Many IT departments have multiple, concurrent projects running, for both internal and external customers,” explains Cortney Thompson, CIO of data center services provider Green House Data. And “too many times, we see staff keeping their head down on a project that is a lower priority while a higher visibility project starts to slip.”

That’s why it’s important for — and the job of — the project manager to let team members know what tasks should take priority and when priorities have changed. “Clearly communicating project priorities can help save a lot of hassle and headache,” he says.

Mistake #4: Forgetting that project management is also people management

“Too many project managers get bogged down focusing on the scope, quality, cost and timeline associated with their projects” and forget about the people who are actually doing the work, says Irfan Kapasi, managing director, strategic solutions and services, at IT staffing firm Computer Task Group. Failing to properly manage team members, or micromanaging them, can “lead to delays, impact quality and result in cost overruns.”

To avoid this problem, “make sure everyone understands how and why their role is important to the success of the project and schedule time for periodic check-ins,” he advises. “This includes sponsors, team members, executives, suppliers and other stakeholders. This way you can make sure everyone shares the same vision for the project.”

Mistake #5: Not regularly communicating with team members

“While nobody will refute the importance of constant communication to successful project management, once a project is underway it's easy to miss times to meet with the team or provide updates to key stakeholders,” says Bob Drainville, president of time tracking app maker Timesheet Mobile.

“Establishing the right foundation for regular meetings, who will attend these meetings and who else needs to be involved will help keep things on track." Drainville also emphasizes the importance of having the right number of people involved because "too many people can bog things down, as people may feel they need to comment at every turn.”

Mistake #6: Letting changes get out of hand

“Scope creep is pervasive in project management and difficult to manage because, as the name suggests, it creeps up on you,” says Kofi Senaya, director of product at mobile app development company Clearbridge Mobile. “Additional requests and added features strain resources and can affect the focus of the product vision. And without the proper control, [they] can severely affect project success.” However, “scope creep can be curtailed by strong project management and product ownership."

“When adding features [or considering changes] you need to ask yourself a few questions,” he says. “Do new feature requests align with the product vision? Do the proposed changes add value to the end user? Are they critical or nice to have? Clearly defining product goals and identifying success factors can help ensure that change requests and added features that aren’t aligned to objectives don’t threaten timelines.”

Mistake #7: Not using a project management tool

“Many solid project management tools, like Asana or Trello, have great visual representations of the status of [a] project,” says Kean Graham, founder & CEO of ad optimization companyMonetizeMore. To help keep projects on track, “it's important to use these tools to know where the project is, to make sure it is on pace to complete by the deadline and to identify opportunities for additional efficiency [or spot problems].”

Additionally, “project documentation should be updated weekly,” says Cerila Gailliard, a certified project management professional and consultant. “If something of importance comes up [e.g., a change in task or scope or deadline], the PM should update the documentation within 24 hours. This will give everyone on the project accurate information [about] the project.”

Mistake #8: Failure to adjust course when things go wrong

As every project manager knows, sometimes, despite your best efforts, things go wrong or the project fails. And “the fear of failure can sometimes lead a project manager to an exercise of futility in trying to salvage a doomed project,” says Brandon Evans, CTO of project portfolio management software provider Changepoint.

That’s why it is essential to “create a vehicle for transparent and truthful reporting… [that] provides executive stakeholders with information that allows for good, timely decision making,” he says. That way, “if the project is strategically important, [and something goes wrong,] the business can change course and [help the project to] become successful by adjusting [the] budget, resources and/or delivery expectations.”

Posted : 26/11/2017 10:38 am
Posts: 68
Trusted Member

When forming a project team, it is important to consider someone's skill as well as their personable skills. It is important to get along well with everyone on the team. It is not always ideal to choose close friends as there are personal limitations that would compromise the quality of the project. Sometimes when teams are picked by good personal relations, conflicts such as deadlines may be more sensitive as no one would want to interfere with the personal relationship. However, it is better than working with a stranger picked just for their expertise in their department. Having a good balance of both is the ideal situation.

Posted : 26/11/2017 11:27 am
Posts: 79
Trusted Member

If I were charged with forming a project team, I would assemble a group of individuals with similar guidelines as aaq2 mentioned above valuing skills and abilities the most. However, it is important to note that I would also heavily emphasize (perhaps most of all) that my team I select individually know their place and responsibilities in the group environment. I would be extremely careful choosing my team and avoid overachievers, micromanagers, and toxic individuals that will pick apart another group member’s work. This will most definitely create a rift in the project team and result in great animosity among the team members which are distractions that are definitely not helpful in achieving the goal. Lastly, I do want to point out that, in agreeance with hv42, I would not necessarily choose individuals solely on personal relationships and ignoring all other mental attributes. My team may all get along with each other, but if the mental horsepower is not there to complete the project, that’s the worst case scenario. Once a reputation of incompetence is ‘earned’ it is incredibly hard to prove oneself again.

Posted : 26/11/2017 12:20 pm
Posts: 113
Estimable Member

As an undergraduate I had to form a project team for a senior design project and I formed a group with two other friends. I worked with these two friends previously on other projects and we worked extremely well with one another. We all carried a skillset in a subject such as mechanics, electrical and coding. Sometimes it is advised not to form a team with friends because you ill clash heads on different decisions which might affect your friendship. When creating a project team, I would advise people to pick people based one’s knowledge and compatibility in terms of personality. If someone is an expert at a role that does not mean that they would be a great fit with your group. You must have someone that works well with your team, so they need to have a balance between skillset and communication.Your project team members should be able to take criticism without getting emotional, and their should be a separation between being friendly and working with one another.

Posted : 26/11/2017 12:30 pm
Posts: 43
Eminent Member

I think a little bit of both would be the best in terms of creating a team. If you know who you want to work with, you already have an idea of that person's skill set and their capabilities of getting things done when prompted to do so. However, sometimes there may be another individual that you may not know well, but who is more knowledgeable in a special area and you are not giving them a chance because you know someone that may fill that role but at an average pace. This is an oddly difficult question because I found myself always picking people I am comfortable working with as a group. There may have been certain instances where the professor picks the group, or I am in a class where I do not know anyone. This is where I am put out of my comfort zone to work with new people and adapt to the situation where I am able to provide enough assistance to get the project to completion. For this final project, I am working with a mix of people whom I know and those I do not know very well. This is an interesting mix because we are forced to work together and collaborate in order to do well and get a good grade essentially.

Posted : 26/11/2017 12:47 pm
Posts: 58
Trusted Member

Personally, I have found it difficult to work with people I have friendship level relationships at work. We always get things done, but sometime you may need to critique someone’s work or push back on something to advocate for the project. However, I have found that as you work with the same people over and over again and do good work, people you have less of a relationship with will also make their selves readily available to contribute to your project. Additionally, I am very young in my career and within the company, so I do not know EVERYTHING. So forming a team with people who are more knowledgeable in their department role would create avenues for open communication and cross fictional effort.

Posted : 26/11/2017 2:59 pm
Posts: 30
Eminent Member

From personal experience, I think that its better to work with people who you don't personally know but knowledgeable in the role they're playing on a project. For Capstone I and II, I worked with people whom I've never met from previous classes but they were knowledgeable of the things that they're supposed to do. The team dynamics were somewhat rough at the beginning mainly due to not knowing each one prior but it all worked out well because we had the right person for the role. If there were misunderstandings or hard feelings it wasn't taken personally which was great. Lastly, working with people I didn't know prior gave room for making new friends.

Posted : 26/11/2017 3:09 pm
Posts: 50
Trusted Member

I would not form a team based just on personal relationship. I would form a team based of the individual that best understand the objective of the project. Most people in industry can adjust themselves if the understand the project. I like my team to work as one unit with individual skills that way what someone would lack someone else can compensate for. That would require me to get to know them all either way.

Posted : 26/11/2017 3:35 pm
Posts: 76
Trusted Member

This is a really interesting question! In order to successfully complete a project on time, project team must collaborate at a defined frequency and must work collectively to achieve the project goal. In choosing the right people for the team, one must have the required knowledge and the skills to be able to perform well in the project. In addition, there are other skills such as communication, attitude and willingness to learn that is a must by the individual participating in the group. Again, since it’s a group project, resources involved in the project must be courteous, kind and effectively work together achieve one common goal of the project. Once the team is defined based on the skills and needs of the project, the project manager coordinates the tasks. Mistakes to avoid is not to have regularly meeting and lack of communication to discuss any challenges and not being specific to the project manager.

Posted : 26/11/2017 3:56 pm
Posts: 59
Trusted Member

The main factor when working with people is working with a goal. To form a project team, I would first figure out all details of the project I am working on. Based on the needs of the project I would then find people with the skill set needed to complete each part of the project. I believe it is better to work with people who are more knowledgeable in their department then to work with people you have a relationship with. Having a relationship with someone you work with cloud your decision making and could potentially lead to favoring the persons' option. If you would with people that are the best at their department with the same goal as yourself, with good communication and team working skills you should be able to complete the project efficiently. Ideally, you should be forming a team relationship with these people as you complete the project.

Posted : 26/11/2017 4:31 pm
Posts: 61
Trusted Member

I believe that when forming a project team, one must always start with subject matter experts. Technical knowledge is critical in the early phases of a project. Even if the knowledge is not complete, at least knowing where to look and in which direction to start can prove invaluable. As the project gets underway, in addition to subject matter experts, i would also wish to involve people from the other facets of the project, including but not limited to : regulatory, quality, logistics, manufacturing. By getting input and advice from members within each of the arms of any medical device company, the project manager can then help navigate the research and development of the project to meet all the requirements.

Posted : 26/11/2017 6:32 pm
Posts: 67
Trusted Member

Although, the team members enjoy working with people who they have a good rapport with. However, in my experience roles are allocated in a team based on a team member's expertise and background. There are always few subject matter experts depending on the scale of the project. Rest of the team may not have any experience with the matter before. Personally, the project that I was allocated to at my work was not even remotely close my expertise/background. Companies usually assign team member based on how well they judge your level of adaptability.

Posted : 26/11/2017 7:29 pm
Posts: 64
Trusted Member

When it comes to building a project team it is definitely necessary to focus on skills and not personal relationship. I do not believe that it is healthy from work and personal life to overlap too much so to avoid better friends with you and your team or amongst team members should be avoided. I think that obviously personal relationship does have a small role in that people need to be able to work together. Members that fight or overshadow each other can be detrimental to the team’s ability to complete a project. I think that too many people that are considered the best at their job could cause an ego issue. I also believe that it is important to have many different skill sets. Even if a project seems like a mechanical engineering project you should still have a business major to deal with marketing and electrical engineering to help with motor control and so on and so forth.

Posted : 26/11/2017 7:43 pm
Posts: 39
Eminent Member

I definitely think that there should be a balance between team relationship and expertise. It is possible to develop a good team dynamic from random individuals so long as there is proper leadership, so a strong leader with expertise in motivating a group is of utmost importance. Then, individuals who are sufficiently knowledgeable in their departments are required. By this, I mean that they should know enough to begin working on their part and be able to consult the appropriate resources to learn more.

Posted : 26/11/2017 7:46 pm
Posts: 30
Eminent Member

I think in order to be a good team player and form a well-rounded project team, one has to make sure that the team has people with diverse skills who can add value to the project. Assuming that every team member can minimally maintain a professional relationship with every other member of the team, preference should be given to the value and quality of their contribution than their ability to maintain a good relationship.

Posted : 26/11/2017 7:57 pm
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