There are several ingredients that go into a successful project and the makeup of the project delivery team is certainly not the least of these.  It’s rarely the project manager who gets to select the specific individuals that compromise his project team, but he may have the opportunity to provide input and definitely provides input into the actual skill set that is needed for each position on the project team.

Unfortunately, in many organizations, people are assigned to projects because they are available, not because they are necessarily the right choice for the project. Any personnel manager can tell you that staffing should always be done by first analyzing the requirements of the job, then recruiting the individual who best meets those requirements. Ideally, that’s the case for selecting the project team, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Projects usually operate in a shared-resource environment. That is, the same employees are used on all projects; when it comes time to start a job, whoever is available is assigned. In fact, pulling a person off one project and assigning that person to a new one because he/she is right for the new job will disrupt the first project - which certainly is not desirable. Nevertheless, assigning the wrong person to a project just because they are available makes even less sense. For one thing, it creates the illusion that the project is properly staffed simply because a “body” is in the position.

Resource allocation is one of the most critical concerns of project managers. It is also one aspect that is many times handled without much care and oversight. Organizations operate today from a lean-and-mean perspective; yet they try to do as much work as they did before they downsized, rightsized, or whatever term is being applied to signify that they are now woefully understaffed to do the necessary work.

Read More: Assigning Tasks on your Schedule

The key for the project manager who is ‘assigned’ a project team with little opportunity for input is to periodically assess the makeup of the project team.  Start early and do it often.  Finding that you have the wrong resource – or a problem resource – assigned to your project very early on can help save costs and missed deadlines later in the project.  Making replacements, as needed, at the beginning of the project can help keep the process of onboarding new resources and transferring knowledge from breaking the project budget.