Wednesday, 07 February 2018 07:05

What to do when project members don't have the skills you need?

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Here’s a nightmare scenario: you’ve won a major new client that has signed on for a large piece of work.

This could mean big things for your business. Do well and your revenue gets a big bump, along with your reputation and the prospect of bigger projects in the future—a significant step for your business and one that will result in growth.

“Wait, that hardly sounds like a nightmare.”

The flipside of this opportunity is the prospect of failure. Imagine: while the revenue from the work may still come in, your new client realizes you’re not up to the job, can’t handle the workload and refuses to use your service again. What’s more, if your name crops up in conversations within the industry, so does your reputation for being ‘not quite up to the job’. This becomes more than just a failed project but a barrier to future business growth.

Help is at hand

Our post today is for project managers who've begun to realize their team members may not quite have the skills or knowledge for the job they’ve been tasked with. This might be for a variety of reasons, including:

Personnel misunderstandings

This is potentially a case of a poor hiring policy along with poor resource management. Being unable to identify and plan for work you currently have on, or work coming down the line, are major barriers to organizing your staff.

‘What-If’ analysis allows you to see what the impact of a new piece of work might be on your resources. This way you can make sure your personnel have the right tools and enough time to make their deadlines without compromising the quality of the work.

The scope of the project has changed

Sometimes you have the right people for specific tasks within projects. But when the scope or end goal of a project changes (which it has a tendency to do), your well-planned resources can sometimes be rendered invalid. For example, you might have plenty of construction workers and tradespersons on hand for a building project. But, if that project is suddenly revised by your client and more engineers are now needed to fulfil the new requirements, you could be left in a tricky situation if those engineers are off working on another project.

What are your options?

If your dream client has left you in a nightmare scenario, what can you do? Do you hire new people? Fire people? Borrow staff from other projects? Train your team up?

Here are some of our suggested solutions that will help get you back on the right path to project success.


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Understand the cause of the problem

Are you solving the correct issue? Knowing what action to take in most situations comes down to understanding the cause of the problem. For example, do you have the right employees in the correct roles? If your employees are trying to complete tasks that they don’t understand or have the skills to do, giving them more time isn’t going to help.

A crucial aspect to project management, then, is understanding and controlling your resource allocation. Resource modeling can really give you an edge here. It lets you visualize the impact of moving your resources around across a variety of projects. You can check these against timelines and skills, giving you a better idea of who is most suited to a task and who is available. This will help you both understand the cause of your problems, and help you find a solution.

Help your employees do their jobs

Sometimes even the best employees can get overwhelmed. When deadlines approach and work isn’t completed, tension can bubble to the surface. When this happens, it’s often important that the employer or senior management step in. To help ensure that employees aren’t overworked or without enough work to do, you should take it upon yourself to reevaluate certain practices and processes. This may include:

  • Reevaluating team roles
  • Examining project goals
  • Streamlining tasks
  • Considering adding new hires

Plan, plan and plan again

So much of our working lives is spent concentrating on our day-to-day tasks and making sure we complete our work on time that it can be difficult to think about anything else. We expend a lot of energy on reacting to unexpected change. This isn’t exactly the recipe for a healthy and productive working life. Nor is it good for your business. Disengagement is rife across most industries in the U.S. This stems from being overworked and understaffed. It’s nearly impossible for your employees to work towards professional growth when they are constantly in crisis mode.

This is where strategic planning and resource management can play a huge part in your business operations and lead to more engaged, happier employees and increased growth for your business. By optimizing your resource management and treating it as fundamental to project success, you can, among other benefits:

  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce costs
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Empower your staff
  • Improve company flexibility
  • Optimize delivery of your product/services

Trying to grow your business is rife with surprises and obstacles to overcome. But with the right foresight and tools you can overcome even the most arduous of impediments. Resource management software can help you optimize your resource management, help you put the right people on the right projects so you can keep winning those big clients.

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Greg Bailey

With over 25 years’ experience in the project management sector, Greg Bailey is Vice President Resource Management at ProSymmetry. He writes about tech trends, with a focus on resource management.

For more of Greg's views on resource management, you can visit the ProSymmetry blog (http://prosymmetry.com/blog/) or follow the company on Twitter - @ProSymmetry.

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