8 Critical Factors to Consider When Selecting Project Resources

Selecting the right project resources is a skill unto its ownOne of the most desired traits in a Project Manager is his or her ability to recruit resources of the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience for the project. This requires solid decision-making, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.

In my previous article, This is How Resource Acquisition Can Be Easier”, I discussed several ideas as to when to acquire resources, what high-level factors to consider in selecting staff, and tools and techniques that are helpful in recruiting resources for your projects.

The PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Institute, 2017, p.332) also discusses several selection criteria that should be considered when recruiting project team members. I alluded to some of these in the previous article, but will elaborate further on the people aspects of the PMBOK®-suggested selection criteria:

  1. Availability. This factor is self-explanatory, and my previous article stressed always matching resource availability to when the resource is required per the project timeline. Additionally, the duration of the resource on the project must be considered against future commitments of the resource.

    What about shift work? What about weekends? In my own experience, I’ve encountered situations where we required certain technical resources to work the night shift in order to prepare the environment for the developers for the next day. Similarly, major upgrades and maintenance activities must be accomplished on weekends in order to keep the development teams working efficiently during the week. Not every resource is amenable to this.

  2. Cost. Again, this factor was reviewed in my previous article, particularly with regard to the project budget. Additionally, the project manager should determine whether the cost of this resource brings full value to the project over the long-term. For a less experienced team member, the Project Manager should determine whether the budget can absorb the additional training that may be required.
  3. Ability. This factor is always touchy one. What one Project Manager considers satisfactory ability, another may not. The individual may have sufficient experience but insufficient ability. Before deciding to accept the resource, the Project Manager should follow up directly with previous project references.
  4. Experience. Experience must be considered from several angles. For example, the client organization may place higher value on a team member’s domain experience, while the Project Manager is recruiting for technical experience. Similarly, the Project Manager may require the resource to be experienced in the development methodology, while the Development Manager requires specific technical experience in a given technology. Again, the resource’s experience should be matched directly to the position requirements and followed up with references.
  5. Knowledge. Knowledge and experience typically go hand-in-hand. As noted above, the client may be more comfortable with a resource that has domain knowledge or has previously worked with similar clients. On the other hand, the Project Manager may prefer the individual to have worked on a similar project, but is less concerned with domain knowledge; he requires the individual to know and understand the cautions and pitfalls that of this type of project.

    Similarly, the Project Manager will need to understand whether the resource can work in this type of project environment. As an example, most of my IT project delivery experience was with fixed-price public sector projects. Invariably, whenever a resource transferred in from a different industry (e.g. financial services, manufacturing, or others), he or she had difficulty in transitioning to the rigor and bureaucracy that often accompanied public sector projects.

  6. Skills. This factor typically deals with proficiency in areas such as hardware, software, programming languages, project tools, and other such skills. Resources must be recruited for the level of skill defined in the Resource Management Plan, who can accomplish their tasks in a timely manner with complete professionalism.
  7. Attitude. I have been on wrong end of this factor several times in my career, typically when someone else recruited key project resources on my behalf (never allow this if you can help it). I have witnessed staff treat junior staff and subcontractors disrespectfully, and client staff as a necessary annoyance. I have had individuals who did not work well in teams, who did not take the initiative, who held onto information, and who did not mentor less experienced staff.

    Such attitudes are not healthy for an effectively functioning project. I would prefer to have a less talented individual on my team who has a positive attitude than the person described above.

  8. International factors. During my career I have had the privilege of working with colleagues from Britain, Ireland, France, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, South Africa, and other countries. These individuals enriched the culture of the project, brought other methods and processes to consider, and made my time on projects much more enjoyable.

    Nonetheless, this should be a consideration when recruiting individuals to the project. Can the person work with someone from a different culture or religion? Can they understand different accents? Can they be flexible in collaborating with individuals in other time zones or working remotely?

These factors, and undoubtedly many others, should be top of mind when selecting resources for your next project. As Project Managers we are first and foremost in the people business, and it is incumbent upon us to consider the people aspects when resourcing our projects.

Footnotes

Project Management Institute. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition. Newton Square, PA: PMI Publications, 2017, Print.


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