As a project manager, you rarely work alone. Having people on board with the right skills and personalities is paramount to meeting your goals and objectives. With the right team, you can conquer any deadline. But how do you build your perfect project team?
Every project is different. Still, some specific roles are essential for every project and company. In general, you will always need someone to fill in these parts for your project team:
6 people you need on your project
The guy or gal guiding the team, obtaining resources, overcoming challenges and proactively solving possible problems. In bigger companies, the team lead is often a project manager. When working in smaller teams, the team lead is likely to be someone who’s responsible for specific projects, thus making him a type of project owner.
The team lead sets both the client’s as well as the team’s expectations and makes sure all the project stakeholders are on the same page. They also closely track the budget and the team’s progress to set realistic deadlines.
Subject matter expert:
The type of specialists responsible for creating and delivering the project. They have expertise in different areas of a project. Think about developers, designers or contractors, depending on the industry you’re working in.
Business analyst, product owner or active stakeholder:
Whether it comes to mapping the requirements for a project, documenting user stories or pouring information into reports, you need someone to track the deliverables of your work. This valuable team member keeps the customer in mind and makes sure you maximise your ROI.
For smaller teams and projects, this role is often picked up by the team lead. Still, if you have the resources, it can be worthwhile to include someone else who has a helicopter view on the entire project.
It’s always interesting to include other people in your project. Professional expertise only goes so far. Oftentimes, when you’re knee-deep in a project, you can be blind to certain issues. That’s why it’s useful to involve a broad variety of people with an open mindset like users, portfolio managers or even investors, who might bring new approaches to the table.
The role of the project sponsor is somewhat blurry for many people. It’s often confused with the customer or even the team lead, but unlike the customer, the sponsor usually is part of the performing organisation. The sponsor also appoints the project manager and/or provides support, therefore representing responsibilities related to management and mentorship.
The sponsor makes important decisions. Where the team lead can merely present necessary changes and his or her recommendations, the sponsor has the final say. He or she also controls the resources and secures the budget.
A customer is usually not a part of the performing organisation and pays for the project’s product. The customer defines the value of the project, so whether this role is filled in by an individual, a team or a third party, all customers should get a similar treatment. Aligning the goals of the project with the requirements of the customer is a necessary starting point.
Projects are delivered by people, for other people, which is important to keep in mind for a customer-centric approach.
Assigning different roles
Having a clear understanding of project roles provides clarity and structure on both an individual as well as a group level. Your team members will get a better sense of which members are working on which tasks and can quickly follow up on feedback or questions. At the same time, a clear structure also helps you to create a feasible timeline.
Ideally, people’s talents correspond well with their team role and everyone understands how to achieve assigned tasks. A great midfielder doesn’t necessarily make a good attacker, so keep in mind that what some team members like to do, might not always be the same as what they’re good at.
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