3 Steps to Achieving the Right Team Size for Tasks
Resource management is an important part of any project manager’s duties. The basic principles are largely the same whether you are staffing a project, or assigning team members to a task. In both cases, your aim is to achieve the right balance between manpower and workload so that you can accomplish a goal on time, and with a minimum of wasted/redundant effort.
Here are three simple-to-remember steps for you to assemble the right-sized team:
1. Know Your Project
Before you figure out your team composition, you have to know what it is they’re going to be doing. What is the scope of the project? Are the tasks involved few but complex, or numerous but straightforward? Are they tasks that multiple people can work on at once, or solo affairs?
The project manager will also have to judge the dependencies between the tasks to make an accurate staffing assessment. Prioritizing one task is useless if it’s dependent on another task that is running slowly.
2. Know the Required Skills
Different tasks may require different skill sets. You’ll have to do an analysis of your current team’s abilities to see if any members have the required skills for any given task. If they do, great. If they don’t, or you don’t have enough people with the right skills, then you’ll have to obtain the knowledge somehow.
The traditional way is recruiting from either outside the company or from another team. Although this is a relatively quick solution, it may end up costing more while disrupting the team dynamic. Another way is by having a knowledgeable team member train someone else. This keeps the team intact, gives another member a new skill, and reduces overall manpower costs as well.
3. Know Your Team
This is different from the above in that you’re analyzing your team on a performance and trust basis, rather than skill. After all, teams are composed of individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, talents, and habits. Some team members can be more suited to a task than others. For example, one team member might be a gifted programmer who is easily bored. You can assign him to the more complex tasks, or to troubleshooting, where he will do the most good without being bored.
Another good practice to determine the right team size is to estimate time required to complete all the tasks. You might not get it right the first time around, however your estimates will get better and better with each new project.
The more familiar you are with the three pieces of information above, the faster and better you’ll be at predicting the right team size for both projects and tasks. You’ll have a better chance at maximizing team output and job satisfaction, while keeping your client/stakeholders happy with a quality project that is delivered on schedule.
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.