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Forming the Core Team

The formation of the core team is a relatively straightforward process. It begins with selecting the right project manager and staffing the rest of the team with skilled, dedicated resources.

Finding a Strong/Capable Project Manager

As with any project, the strength and leadership of the project manager has a direct bearing on the success of the project team. Therefore, it's important that he or she possess certain core skills:

  • The project manager must be a "change agent," a real tenacious proponent of change. Most projects will at times experience an almost insurmountable resistance to change; therefore, the project manager must have the skills necessary to break down barriers and drive a new way to approach things.

  • Equally important is the project manager's ability to build coalitions, influence others, and to sell the project. A team may have the greatest idea or approach, but if it can't be clearly articulated, packaged, and sold, it will go nowhere.

Selecting the Team Members

Selecting the members of a team is normally a fairly uneventful task. Whoever is available or has the least amount on his or her plate is usually an obvious candidate. However, given the importance of the task, and given that the success of this team will be directly influenced by the varying skills of its team members, it's imperative to select each team based on the skills profile described earlier. To recap, the team should include members with the following skill sets: applications development and management, database administration, system administration, infrastructure development and management, and facilities management.

Equally important is attitude and delivery. As with the project manager, each team member must be an agent of change. All team members must possess a desire to deliver results despite skepticism and resistance to change.

Staffing the Team with Dedicated Resources

Work for the core team should not be a part-time job. Part-time resources result in conflicting priorities, sporadic delivery, and continuous review and "level up" across the team. To achieve a consistent, cohesive strategy delivered with velocity, dedicated resources are imperative. Therefore, if you extract a resource from another project or assignment, you should relieve that person completely of his or her commitments to that project or assignment. Distractions ultimately affect the team's delivery in some fashion, whether through elongated delivery times or, worse, missed deliverables. If you can't secure dedicated resources, then your management team doesn't see this project as a priority.

Empowering the Workgroup (Autonomy)

When you hear the word empowerment you probably chuckle or roll your eyes, given that the term has often been misused. But empowerment really is key to the success of the team. The team must have the latitude to define the approach and make the basic decisions necessary to deliver a cohesive and integrated solution, and that means being able to think out of the proverbial "box." Where empowerment can fall short is when management forms a team of this nature and simply says, "You're empowered"—expecting you to go forth and slay dragons in the name of progress. To get the most out of empowerment, it's necessary to define the boundaries within which the team must operate, as well as communicate expectations. (This all points back to the job ticket.)

In addition, it's necessary to establish a communication plan that includes a support team and decision team review and feedback process. Frequent review and feedback will become the team's critical factors for success. This will allow for quick feedback on decisions that the team made and the approach that the team is taking.

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