Project Team Meaning, Factors and Process

Table of Contents:

  • Meaning of Project Team
  • Composition of a Project Team
  • Human Factors and the Project Team
  • Process of Building a Project Team

Meaning of Project Team

A project team includes the Project Manager, project office personnel, and functional group members who can be full-time or part-time either during the project or only for specific project phases. A successful project manager must motivate the other team members so that they feel that their efforts are important and directly affect the outcome of the task.

Individuals come together as a group to perform activities that contribute to achieving a common task-related goal. Teams have to accomplish performance goals and the team members are mutually accountable for achieving them. A variable number of team members, along with a project manager, receive task assignments from the project schedule.

The project manager must inform group members about their tasks and emphasize the importance of their roles. He should make team members feel and believe that they play a vital role in the success or failure of the team. By working closely with members of the team, the project manager can win their loyalty to the assignment. By knowing task force members individually, he can increase their motivation level by making them understand that they are an indispensable part of the team.

A project manager can motivate the project team in the following ways:

1) Providing a proper direction,

2) Giving assignments that provide challenges,

3) Developing a team attitude,

4) Clearly defining performance expectations,

5) Giving honest appraisal,

6) Providing a good working atmosphere, and

7) Giving each person the attention he requires.

8) Giving proper criticism as well as credit,

Composition of a Project Team

A basic project team consists of a project manager and a group of specialists recruited for the project. A project group has both managerial and non-managerial staff who work either full-time or on a contract basis. All the team members participate in decision making concerned with the team.

The team should include five to eight highly committed individuals. That size often seems to provide the most appropriate range of participation, energy, and decision-making ability. Membership on the team depends on the desired project outcomes and the scope of activities. To enhance team dynamics, it is often beneficial to assemble a diverse group of individuals, including executives, middle managers, and entry-level employees.  A cross-functional team can help to ensure that all levels of the organization have a chance to provide input to the development and implementation of the action plans for change, thereby increasing ownership and participation. Also, a cross-functional team can bring a rich diversity of ideas often useful in generating a wide range of perspectives and opinions throughout the project.

The following guidelines will help construct a project team:

1) Assign responsibility to an individual for ensuring the project’s completion.

Usually, that person is the CEO. If someone else has primary responsibility, find out who that person is as soon as possible – as that individual plays an important role in the success of your project.

2) Include Someone to Help Administer the Project

This individual will be responsible for ensuring the provision of materials and facilities for meetings, as well as the thorough documentation of meeting outcomes. This person can also take notes during meetings and distribute them to key personnel.

3) The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) should be on the Team

The CEO provides ongoing visible legitimacy and the ability to make decisions and provide historical information about the organization. If there is a likelihood that the CEO will not be on the team, members of the Board and the CEO should have clear and credible reasons for excluding the CEO.

4) Consider including Members from Outside the Organization

External members, including investors and specialists in the relevant fields of products and services, bring valuable expertise and insights from outside organizations, contributing to growth and success. These members can provide precious insight as to how planned changes will be perceived and their potential impact on external stakeholders. The inclusion of investors on the team can provide significant credibility for the client to the investors, as well.

5) Encourage the Board Chair to be on the Team

Especially if the project involves significant change in the client’s organization, the board should consistently be aware of, and approve of, project activities. One of the most effective strategies to guarantee such awareness is by incorporating a key member of the board into the team.

6) Consider having the Leader of each Major Product or Service on the Team

The project must retain or enhance the performance of your client’s services to its customers during the project. One of the ways to ensure quality of performance is to involve personnel who provide products and services.

Human Factors and the Project Team

1) Meeting schedule and cost goals, without compromising performance is a complex technical challenge that also encompasses a human dimension:

  • i) Project professionals tend to be perfectionists,
  • ii) Pride in workmanship leads the team member to improve (and thus change) the product, and
  • iii) These changes cause delays in the project.

2) Motivating group members of the project :

i) The project manager often has little control over the economic rewards and promotions of work team members, but this does not mean he/she cannot motivate members of the team.

ii) What motivates technical employees?

  • a) Recognition,
  • b) Achievement,
  • e) The work itself,
  • d) Responsibility,
  • e) Advancement, and
  • f) The chance to learn new skills.

3) Empowerment of project teams is also one of the motivational factors:

i) Empowerment allows team members to manipulate tasks effectively in achieving project goals. It encourages the team to explore and implement improved ways of doing things.

ii) Professionals lean towards self-direction, avoiding direct management. Participative management does not tell them how to work but given a goal, allows them to design their methods.

iii) The group members know they are responsible and accountable for achieving the project deliverables.

iv) There is a good chance that synergistic solutions will result from team interaction.

Process of Building a Project Team

The Project Manager must undertake the following activities for building a team.

1) Make Plans for Building a Team

The Project Manager usually starts the team-building process from the project planning stage. The basic aspects of project planning are important for team building because planning has a significant impact on team building. After organising the team, jobs are assigned based on these aspects. Writing a detailed project plan has a profound impact on the team-building process:

i) What: Team goals and objectives are based on the project goals and objectives. There should be compatibility and consistency between the team goals and project goals.

ii) How: Planning and documenting project procedures and controls should be done carefully. This aspect identifies the process of accomplishing the project goals in the best possible manner using a group effort.

iii) When: Project schedules should be prepared to keep in mind the abilities of the team members.

iv) Who: Defining project roles carefully helps the Project Manager select the right people for every job. This is the phase in which decisions are made regarding the specific individuals required to contribute to the project.

2) Negotiate for Team Members

This involves sourcing the most promising project team personnel from the available candidates. While selecting the team members, the Project Manager must consider what contributions each group member can make to the project and the team.

3) Organize the Project Team

Organizing a group of diverse individuals into a team is the responsibility of the Project Manager. In this phase every individual is assigned a specific job, while organizing the project team, it is essential to design work authorization for every work package in the WBS to be assigned to every individual in the group. After assigning work to every team member, a linear responsibility chart should be prepared and distributed among the team members.

4) Authority and Responsibility

Authority and responsibility are usually two sides of the same coin. Having one without the other is futile. The Project Manager should have authority over the project and should be responsible for the completion of the project within the time, and budget, and according to specifications. Even though authority over the project can be delegated, it is the Project Manager who is ultimately responsible for completing the project.

5) Hold a Kick-Off Meeting

The basic purpose of holding a kick-off meeting is to get the project started on the right note and to initiate the team-building process. The kick-off meeting helps the Project Manager to bind everyone involved in the project under a unity of purpose to achieve the project goals. Though kick-off meetings do not have a specific structure, the following guidelines should be followed:

i) Introduce team members to each other,

ii) Establish working relationships and communication channels,

iii) Set goals and objectives for the team,

iv) Review the project status,

v) Identify the problem areas in the project, and

vi) Specify the Responsibilities and accountability of individuals as well as groups.

6) Get Commitments from Team Members

The Project Manager must ensure that the group members are committed to the project. In the early stages of the project lifecycle, individual team members may not be sure about how long they will work on the project. This gives rise to uncertainty and consequently lack of commitment. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to remove this uncertainty and to make sure that all the team members are deeply involved with the project.

7) Establishing Communication Links among Team Members

Teamwork is not possible without proper communication channels. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to establish and maintain all communication channels across the organizational hierarchy. A team cannot be effective unless there is effective communication among the team members.

8) Conducting Team Building Exercises

Team building exercises enhance the efficiency of the group, particularly in the initial phases of the project lifecycle. Team building proves to be effective when integrated with the regular day-to-day activities of the project. Once the Project Manager completes the section-building process, he has to establish the operating rules for the section.

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