When you’re running a project and you know that it’s a high profile project and you know that you’re on a tight schedule and that everyone’s eyes are on the project and on you – you want your best resources available for the project, right? You want the most skilled and experienced resources that money can buy. You want the best resources your organization can offer – the best possible ones available.
What I’ve found in my experience is that sometimes the best is not always the best for your project. Why is that? Well, in my project management situations I’ve usually led five, six, even seven or more projects at a time. And each of those projects has had four to six key project resources – possibly, even more, depending on how large the project was – including business analysts, application developers, tech leads, software architects, and data specialists.
Having the best in each of those resource categories can sometimes be a huge plus for your project, but it also usually means these high-level resources are in high demand and are probably playing key roles on one or more other projects. What that can often mean is you are in danger of having one of them pulled off your project to consult on issues that arise on another project – meaning their time available to you can be limited or unexpectedly interrupted. And when a key resource suddenly disappears from your project customer satisfaction and customer confidence are the first things to take a hit. Customers start to perceive that you’re treating them as a less important client and can quickly become frustrated.
I’ve had projects that I’ve led where I’ve had possibly the top company resource in a particular skill category and it has served me well on some of those projects and it’s also served me quite poorly on other occasions. One project comes to mind specifically where I lost an extremely talented business analyst for an extended period of time to another project he was simultaneously working on. Deadlines started to pass and my customers began thinking they were being treated like a second-class client. They were not happy and they were certainly becoming dissatisfied quickly. It took some extreme action on my part including going to senior management and my resources’ direct supervisor, but I got him back and straightened out the project schedule. But some irreversible damage had already been done.
The key takeaway here is that having the best does not always put you in the best possible situation for your project. Sometimes, a lesser experienced, but still very competent resource who isn’t overbooked and stretched thin across many projects will actually serve your project even better. Then, if you need the best, get some mentoring time from a more experienced resource for a short period of time on your project to get you through an issue or over a hump. The end result will be that you kept your project team intact and probably provided more satisfaction and confidence to the customer than you would have with the top-notch resource moving on and off your project.