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PM Angels: Creating A Project Team That Rocks!

PM Angels: Creating A Project Team That Rocks! Project Team and PM Angels is the topic which I will cover today.
I was recently sitting in a meeting about small issues in a particular project when I had a thought that I should write about the importance of having an awesome project team. ​There are often many issues and challenges that come up in a project, but in this meeting we were talking about how we had subcontracted work out, but how the subcontractors were unwilling to respond to certain issues that were arising. They had a ‘it isn’t in our contract’ kind of attitude. Fair enough for them, but the bottom line is that we needed these issues solved pronto. If you are a fellow​ Project Manager​ this ​ issue​ may sound familiar.
But the fact of the matter remains: ‘somebody’ needs to get this done. And often the jobs aren’t that big, but they are still necessary in order to see the completion of the project too. Perhaps someone needs to run to the IT store and quickly get some materials, or run to the hardware shop to pick up some tools, then are willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever is necessary to see it through. It is in th​i​s ​ particular​ meeting when we all agree that “somebody” should do the job​​. ​

However, ​finding this “somebody” ​or the person responsible for fixing this one issue ​ can be a challenge​. Maybe the standard subcontractor is busy ​doing ​some​thing​ else​, or they are wanting to get paid for the additional work necessary but won’t start on this issue until their other job is complete and paid for. This is when the Project Manager usually begins fire-fighting with the commercial side of the project​, and this ​is when having your own personal team to back you up​ is priceless​.

Th​is personal team, or what I call the​ A-Team​ project team,​ is the team you have under your own control who has the necessary skills and the tools to ​get an odd job done.​ You know, one of those jobs that you hired a subcontractor to do but they claim that it isn’t in their job scope or that it will be extra? Yeah, I am not bitter…. OK, maybe a little.​ ​ But one way to curb this bitterness is to have on standby a team that can get in there and get the job done when no one else can or will.​

​Basically this is a small team which is flexible enough to work on the same day of request if necessary,​ are people you can trust,​ and can rise to the challenge even if overtime or night work is required. They are kind of like a PM’s a​spirin for when the project begins producing headaches for us . They are there, supportive, and can roll up their sleeves​ and get down-and-dirty​ if needed. ​They are the relief to your pain, the macaroni to your cheese, and often they are the answer to your problem. But keep in mind we want to set our A-Team up for success as well, so one good thing to have at your disposal i s a petty-cash box.​ After all, we can’t expect them to buy materials or tools out-of-pocket. They are too busy helping us! So have a cash-box on hand in the event that they need to buy some additional materials.​

​If having this team be the answer to your project prayers isn’t enough, they are not expensive to employ as well! From my personal experience, the material th​at an A-Teamer ​buy ​s​ on​-​the​-​spot is cheaper because there is no mark ​-​up from a sub-contractor, the​ir​ work is included in the salaries ​ (which you would have included in the cost at the beginning of the project)​ and the problems are solved ​in a fraction o ​f the time​. This saves time and money! ​I don’t have to tell you that going through a subcontracting process may take weeks, ​the procedures can be long and drawn-out, ​are often over priced, and​ the ​contractors are ​limited in terms of their respective scope of work.​… all of this hassle for one issue is not worth the wait and the headache!​ Might as well start your own small ​A-Team who can get the job done ​, are trustworthy and are​ hassle-free.

​Building Your A-Team​ project team

​Depending on the size of your project, you may need either 1 or several A-Teams to handle different parts of the project. This is my way of setting myself and the project up for success… when we have people ready to respond, we eliminate a lot of stress from the project.

​The A-Team project team must have reliable and trustworthy​ people​ that you can call on​ to support you in case of challenges ​, issues​ and/or emergencies; people you can call on to fix that issue and fix it fast​ without belly-aching​! You can ​always work out with them what is expected, the quality of work expected, and what price you are willing to pay in order to fix certain issues.

There will be unseen challenges and work (at least in most of my ​ projects​ this happens​) which may be not apparent from the beginning ​. OK, I can’t blame the subcontractor too much here~ sometimes things arise that were not foreseen at the beginning of the project, and the subcontractor may or may not be able to respond to the issue. In the end, having an A-Team is, at least in my book, critical to the project’s success. You may end up needing someone around to receive late deliveries​, to make a last-minute material run,​ or you may have a job that must be done THAT NIG ​HT in order to stick to the schedule.

Your​ A-Team project team’s size ​should be ​about 2 to 5 persons and are skilled in ​several different topics such as ​technical topics, engineering topics, ​IT topics (if necessary), ​administration and business analysis ​ or whatever is necessary for that project​. They also need to be able to plan and sketch solutions, ​following procedures, ​think on their feet, ​make informed or educated decisions and ​be familiar with drafting a method statemen​t. The method statement is definitely important and required as it is to convince the Employers Consultant that t​hey k​now what they are doing ​ and can do it well​.

​Coming back to the importance of following procedures, being an A-Team project team ​member ​ does not mean they can skip procedures or do ​crap quality wor​k. ​They have to follow the procedures and agreements to grant the stakeholders and client some peace-of-mind via communication. In other words, they follow the procedures but have a high level of respond-ability to issues and unforeseen challenges.

The A-Team project team

​ must​ ha​ve​ a go-get ‘er attitude. ​None of this, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” attitude. ​The team’s whole purpose is to find​ solutions and implemen t​ these solutions ​in a timely manner. ​ Treat your A-Team project team well because the benefits of having a highly informed, skilled and respond-able set of people to support you in your project is priceless!​ They are the ghost-busters in projects, and will do that one job no one else wants to do!

​Here’s to building YOUR A-Team project team!

Peter Wyss