So you’ve got a great initiative to work on. A new project. A fantastic launch. And yet you don’t have anyone lined up to help you with it. 

Where do you get people for your team?

Project managers call this 'acquiring the project team'. It simply means finding the people needed to work on the tasks. 

In this article we’ll look at 3 ways that you can source people to support you with your work on a new team.

1. Negotiating with Managers

It’s great when the people you need already work for you and you can easily reassign them to your new project. But for many people in team leadership roles, they don’t have that opportunity.

As projects are temporary endeavours, it’s rare to find project teams set up as a permanent line management structure. When you need bodies to work on tasks, you have to go off and find them from the resource pool within the company – and that’s where your negotiation skills come into play. 

Negotiating with managers

Of course, if you have a board mandate that says this is the most important project in the whole company, your discussion is going to be very different than if you have to beg someone for a few hours a week from one of their top subject matter experts. 

This can be very time-consuming, but generally – as it involves deep discussion of priorities and understanding of the work – there’s a positive outcome. You might even find you get volunteers if your project is seen as interesting or influential enough! 

Don’t limit yourself to working with resources in the same office as you. 

If you have the technology, solutions like Schedule Reader or Project Viewer make sharing project plans easy, even if you work miles apart. 

Combine that with virtual meetings and collaboration tools and you can successful co-opt anyone from any office on to your project.

2. People Are Assigned

Where you have a central resource pool, you may find that your colleagues are assigned to work on your project, without any input from you at all. In fact, even when you don’t have a resource pool, you’ll still find this happening. 

A senior manager says, “So and so would be perfect for that,” and that’s who you get to do the job. You may also find that someone has been working on something similar (or even the same project) long before it came onto your radar so they are the natural choice. If you work in a client-facing organization you may also find yourself with assigned resources. 

Account managers or senior managers sometimes promise specific resources to clients based on successful past working relationships (or promise not to use someone, if the relationship wasn’t so positive). 

Your input over who is going to be assigned to work on the project differs depending on where you are in the organization. Typically it is not the project manager who gets to say who should take on certain tasks. 

That decision might be made by:

  • Functional managers, who lead the department where the resources are based
  • Human resources
  • Resource planners
  • The Project Management Office

Wherever you can, if you are going to be leading the team day to day to get work completed, you should try to influence the outcome of who is being assigned to the team. 

There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a team with someone you know is going to do a bad job.

3. People Are Acquired

The third way that you can find resources for your team is to go out and get them. When you don’t have the skills you need internally, you will have to source these from somewhere else. 

You do have the option of training existing staff, but it’s often easier to buy in specialist contract resource if it’s a relatively short job and you don’t need deep task knowledge afterwards. 

Again, you have the option of using people who don’t work locally to you. If the best Java developer you can find is based off-shore, technology can help you incorporate their work into the team and collaborate on the same goals. 

Virtual teams give you the option of finding the best resources for your team, not just the local ones. 

The other alternative is that a whole chunk of your project is passed to a subcontractor. They will then interface with you as the leader for the whole piece, but take responsibility for resourcing the many tasks that will now fall under their remit. 

Remember to get contracts in place for anyone you secure externally, so that you each know what is expected and you have some protection should the work or their contribution not proceed as you had hoped. 

Finding people for your project team should be easier if you have a business case and approval to proceed. You won’t be cajoling individuals to join your team. 

However you start out, make sure that you’ve got people lined up help you achieve your goals. It might take a while to get your team in place, but having the right people is definitely worth it and will help you succeed more easily and more quickly.