Project management often is thought by industries to be an unnecessary burden on the budget. Only 46% of organizations make project management an important priority despite plenty of proof available that a project management process increases the chances of delivering a project on time and within budget. Those who downplay the importance of project management do have a reason, though, as PM is expensive and consumes as much as 20% of the overall project budget.
Despite having said that, can a business afford not to have project management? Without it, what will hold the client and the team together? Who will communicate, supervise, manage, take care of the clashes and the catastrophes of a project and finally deliver it on time with the quality parameters met?
For those interested in upskilling in this domain, a list of PMI certifications can guide professionals toward the most relevant credentials. A PwC study of over 10,640 projects found that 2.5% of the companies completed 100% of their projects successfully. Expensively or not, project management is imperative and is going to stay with its impact increasingly felt more than ever before. And what is left of project management without project management teams?
What Is a Project Management Team?
A Project or PMO team is a conglomeration of a qualified leader or project manager, ideally someone who has a Project Management certification online, and a group of individuals or team members who work together on a project.
Composition of Project management Teams
Teams project management includes the individual staff and other members or stakeholders who may or may not be directly involved in the project but carry out some work related to the project.
Also, project team members may be from different teams with subject matter expertise and knowledge to help in project execution. The size and project team structure could vary depending on the size and complexity of the project; there is no fixed rule. For example, a project may have members from 5 to 500 or more.
How to Define Who Should be on the Project Team?
Project team members could work on a full or part-time basis, as an in-house employee or external consultants and their roles vary according to the nature of each project. To decide who should be included in a project team, the following parameters could be considered:
An individual should be included in a project team if the person qualifies for one or more of these:
- Can contribute to the overall project objectives in some way or the other
- Work on tasks to complete the deliverables
- Provide expertise or knowledge support
- Work with users to ascertain and meet the project needs
- Document the processes
A project manager’s involvement however remains fixed and includes overseeing the day-to-day and overall functioning of the project.
Project Management Team Structure
Depending on the nature of the project, a project team can be variously organized. Large and complex projects could have sub-teams and could be structured by project function, project-based, Matrix-based, and a combination of these.
1. Function-Based Project Team Structure: where teams and sub-teams are arranged as per their functions, with each sub-team reporting to the functional manager.
2. Project-Based Team Structure: this is the traditional structure where project activities (named as programs or portfolios) are taken into consideration, and teams are made responsible for these activities headed by a project manager.
3. Matrix-based Team Structure: here, a functional manager is a head, and the authority flows down to the project manager, who has the authority floating horizontally.
Dynamic organizations usually have such project structures so that the members have the option to report to single and multiple managers hence the name matrix-based project team.
Here a project manager with some training from a Project Management Professional preparation course is responsible for the ownership of a project, heads the project team and reports to a senior project manager. For large projects, the team structure will evolve making rooms for adjustment to meet the changing nature of the projects.
The following considerations need to be kept in mind while structuring a team:
- Putting members working on similar project activities in the same team promotes collaboration, knowledge and skill transfer to achieve their goals.
- Since team structure influences how the members behave it is important to build a profitable and useful team involving maximum collaboration, cooperation, motivation and knowledge sharing.
Project Management Team Members Roles and Responsibilities
Project management team roles vary depending on the nature of a project. Some may be a part of the core team; others could be from different stakeholders from other groups having some involvement in the project. Identifying the right person befitting a role is important, especially the roles that include decision-making and involve power and authority.
Besides there could be, depending on the character of a project, developers, testers, business analysts, sponsors and more.
Mentioned below are some of the critical roles:
1. Project Manager
Responsible for governing and executing a project and supervising the different activities of a project manager’s responsibilities include:
- Developing a project plan
- Managing deliverables
- Leading and managing the team
- Fixing the methodologies to be used in the project
- Establishing a project schedule
- Assigning tasks to team members
- Managing resources
- Managing changes, risks and escalations
- Tracking Progress
- Tracking the quality parameters
- Updating the management on the progress
- Ensuring schedules are maintained
- Closing the project with final updates
2. Project Sponsor
Responsible for funding a project and holds the authority in the project’s decisions and outcome usually coming from senior management. A project sponsor may also help in resolving conflicts and smooth out hindrances that come in the project life cycle.
3. Steering Committee
The group that is responsible for regular supervision of a project. The group must have representatives from all the primary functions of a project and are authorized to take decisions on behalf of those functions they represent. The steering committee members could be department heads, VPs or directors and external representatives as well. Usually the project manager reports to this committee.
4. Project Team Members
Depending on the nature of a project the responsibilities vary. Typically the role includes
- Meeting the overall projective objectives
- Completing individual deliverables
- Furnishing expertise
- Working with users to meet business needs
- Documenting the process
Best Techniques to Build a Dream Project Management Team
The process of gathering individuals from different backgrounds, having different needs and with different levels of experience and expertise and transforming them into a cohesive, effective work unit to attain a specific objective is called team building.
In the present days of declining bureaucratic hierarchies and horizontally spread work units, team building becomes more critical, where team building involves relationships among peers with diversified expertise.
Teams handling a project go a long way in bringing differences between successful or unsuccessful project performance. The major factors influencing in development of effective teams are:
1. Harnessing the Talents: The experts and specialists whose talents are required should be integrated to handle larger tasks.
2. Involvement: Organizational members want to get increasingly connected with their work environment.
3. Creativity: Like-minded individuals working together can result in synergy and creativity.
4. Complexity: Complicated environmental interfaces and increasing task complexities could encourage effective team formation leading to higher job satisfaction. Team building is a dynamic process requiring continuous input on the part of a project manager.
However, there are some strategies, when applied prudently, will help in successful team making:
1. Tactful Recruitment
The process starts with performing due diligence on the expertise needed for a given role, the expertise available in the organization and which employee will fit the best. This will help in the optimum use of manpower and a higher level of job satisfaction since a member will be happy to be appointed to a role matching one’s skillset. Making a win-win situation for everyone.
2. Mapping and Aligning Goals, Objectives and Timelines
Keeping team members tied to a defined schedule allows them to keep track of their own progress along with the project’s advancement. One way to do this is to use some project management software free or paid.
Next, the individual objectives of members must be aligned to the team’s objectives and finally the project objective. The members will have a bigger picture and know how to relate and perform.
3. The B.E.C.C Technique (B=Bond, E=Empathize, C=Connect and C=Communicate.)
“To not only see your own success but to focus on the success of others.”- Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google.
A leader has to be directive, supportive and participative by empowering the team with autonomy, encouraging and empowering team involvement thereby allowing decision-making process to be handled by the team members, supporting human qualities of empathy by listening to their feelings, likes and dislikes and communicating openly.
4. Use of Double Rs: Recognition and Reward
As per the Global Recognition Study, 78% of U.S workers report that being recognized motivates them at their job.
Motivation comes from incentives and incentives satisfy the need of being recognized. A project leader must understand and address the needs of the members. Once the needs are recognized, the reward part comes. Mere recognition will not stay long unless boosted by some tangible rewards to uplift the entire team’s motivation.
5. Work Culture to Foster Teamwork
A project manager needs to ensure that the team must function the same way irrespective of the presence or absence of the manager without having to monitor the team all the time. By formulating a positive and collaborative work culture this can be achieved.
The use of some collaborative tools like Slack, Yammer, and Socialist could be helpful.
6. Conflict Management
Around 85% of workers at all levels have reported experiencing some kind of conflict in an organization.
A team means a conglomeration of different backgrounds, interests, personalities, beliefs, and cultural and social backgrounds. With such diversities around, conflicts, both personal and professional, are bound to happen.
Team management is not just working or output management. Effective team management also includes conflict management and preventing issues from flaring up.
Some ways to do this are:
- Seeing things from the other person’s point of view to have an overall understanding of the situation and thereby offer a suitable solution.
- Implementing a neutral approach instead of having a biased view towards a situation or individual.
7. Team-Building Activities
Those are required to break the monotony at the workplace, bring a sense of relief, harmony, and fun and uplift the team energy overall.
Depending on the company culture, activities could be planned, for example, game playing once a week or going out for team lunch once a month or others.
Instead of micro or macro management, a project manager must delegate responsibilities and allow members to decide on their own, remaining within the framework of the team’s objective and meeting the task responsibilities.
Members can be allowed to experiment in other domains to gain experience, knowledge, and skill sharing. It increases the productivity of employees, improves job satisfaction and boosts morale.
The professional development of the members is an example of delegation. The team should feel that their skills are being enhanced rather than exploited. Various on-the-job or off-the-job training sessions could be arranged which eventually will benefit the organization as a whole.
Constructive feedback is an essential backbone of any work environment and both managers and team members should be involved in giving and receiving feedback in the right spirit.
Ways to Improve Work Culture in a Project
Project managers get a unique chance of creating a project culture. They become skilled in doing so if they undergo any PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner online training. Organizational managers seldom get a chance to create culture as most companies have them already set over the years.
A project culture means the shared values, beliefs, norms and assumptions set up for the project team. Developing an appropriate project culture after understanding the needs and different aspects of a project to meet these is one of the finest management abilities of a successful project manager. It is developed by clearly communicating the:
- Priorities of a project
- Present status
- Alignment of officials (the existing ones of an organization. For example, the travel reimbursement policy) and operational rules (those are enforced at the onset of a project).
On the contrary, if project team members do not have a clear understanding of the project definition, project culture, unnecessary friction and confusion could be inevitable, especially in large projects.
Additionally, a project manager might communicate other important aspects by using symbols, storytelling, rituals, taboos, rewards and penalties.
Project culture influences behavior and communicates what is essential and useful for smooth functioning and establishing priorities. For example, in projects where maintaining strong safety precautions is compulsory, team members are asked to feel free to challenge anyone breaking a safety rule. Clear communication is the most important aspect of setting a project culture.
Steps To Create Impactful Project Culture
1. Taking the Right Project Culture Initiative
All the aspects of an ideal project culture and which all would fit the best in the current project need to be understood first. Benchmarking the present project against an ideal project culture will help bridge the gaps and set the strategies. Then those can be implemented and tracked regularly.
2. Choosing the Right Team Leader
Experienced and successful team leaders design unique, high-performance cultures befitting a project and use innovative ways of implementation. Creativity and quality play an important part there, and individual satisfaction and motivation are guaranteed. Personality, behavior and clear communication of the project leader play a major role in creating project culture.
3. Creating People-Centric Culture
An ideal project culture has people as its center. The members are respected, and treated with dignity, their views and suggestions are valued, and they enjoy enough independence to contribute creatively and collaborate effectively. Team achievements are celebrated are deserving members are recognized and rewarded.
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Strategies To Manage Project Teams Effectively
Projects often fail because the project managers do not have a clear perception of team management.
Here are some strategies to help in the effective management of project teams.
1. Clearly Defining a Project’s Scope
Defining project scope can be done by stating a project’s :
- Goal: that is the expected outcome. Example launching a weight management app.
- Objectives: the measurable steps required to achieve the stated goal. For example, creating a team of developers.
- Stages: clear demarcation between the phases. For example, when to say the project activities have moved from planning to the execution phase.
- Budget: the entire cost.
- Resources: the equipment, manpower and other amenities required.
- Schedule: the entire timeline of the project phases mapping the delivery dates of each of the milestones.
2. Common Agreement of the Project Scope
All the members should agree upon the scope of the project including the budget, resources, expectations, methodologies and deliverables.
3. Creating Milestones
A project can be executed and managed better only when it is broken into smaller milestones of deliverables on schedule, managing the bottlenecks.
4. Framing Timeline
The sequence of activities required to be performed over a defined period that is, scheduling the tasks and deliverables.
Using a visual timeline like a Gantt chart, Chronological order or Kanban could be of help.
Irrespective of the approach, each task should have a) start date b) delivery date c) responsible persons d) association with other tasks.
5. Maintaining Daily Target
Long-term deliverables can only be met if daily targets are set and met. The daily targets roll over to weekly, monthly and so forth. Tracking daily targets gives control over delays and their better management.
Using any intuitive project management application software will help to visualize the tasks, and deliverables, generate reports and do plenty of other things. Some common PMS are Wrike, Monday.com, Asana, and ProofHub among various others.
6. Risks and Changes Management
A lot of seen or unseen events may come up during the project lifecycle coming from internal or external sources. External stakeholders, for example, change their priorities or modify requirements or some new technology might come up rendering the current project obsolete, some unplanned expenses might come up and so forth.
Those risks and changes need to be managed. The strategies that could be applied are a) Isolating and applying blockers b) Arranging/rearranging resources c) Using agility where sub-projects are developed in increments and resolving the issues quickly as each increment is finished. Meanwhile, the main project moves on as scheduled.
7. Formulating an Exit Path
Having a clear understanding of the truth that projects do fail, not that it is expected to fail. All the stakeholders need to understand their accountability in case it happens.
The exit plan should have a) Well defined, measurable success metrics b) A clear endpoint defining when it should be considered a failure c) A case study for future reference capturing the project’s wins, losses, best practices and the missed opportunities
Project management (PM) tools are specially designed software aiming at helping companies in organizing and managing their projects and tasks efficiently. They could be both paid and free. Usually, many paid ones offer ‘free for lifetime’ versions that tiny teams can conveniently use before scaling up to the paid ones as and when required. Many are available for deployment on-premise or cloud-based or have both models.
A project management software is multifunctional and capable of handling lots of functions like resource management, budget management, tracking deliverables and plenty of other things that are required in managing projects.
Team Project Management Tools Key Features
Myriad features and the availability of various team project management software in the market make selecting the right tool a challenge. Nevertheless, broadly speaking the functionalities or key features mentioned below should be a good frame for reference to select the appropriate one.
A) Ease of use – how easy it will be to implement and use by all and sundry.
B) Scalability- can it move upscale or downscale as per the project requirement. If yes, what is the pricing? Does it provide short-term additional users in case of hiring temporary staff to meet a project’s demand?
C) Number of users- How many users can use under each of the pricing models.
D) Availability of the common features – although almost all come with these but no harm in ensuring in particular:
- Task listing
- Central warehousing of documents and file sharing
- Reporting and dashboard
- Time tracker
Coming to some of the best industry-wise PM tools that are popular are:
1. Teamwork: Best free team management tool plan
2. Clickup: Best enterprise team project management tool
3. Wrike: Best tool for marketing teams
4. ProjectManager: Best team project management tool for time tracking
5. monday.com: Best for Gantt charts
6. Mavenlink by Kantata: Best team tool for managing professional services
7. Meistertask: Best for Kanban boards
8. Paymo: Best for remote teams
9. Hive: Best for agencies
10. Smartsheet: Best for portfolio management
Project management practices are catching on along with the demands of capable project managers qualified specifically in project management. So is the growing popularity of project management online courses like PRINCE2 course online. Because a project manager’s role is not just confined to managing a project or launching innovative products but also managing internal processes and aligning with the company’s goals, all these can only be learned by attending some appropriate course program.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What are the project team types?
- Cross-Functional Teams
- Matrix Teams
- Virtual Teams
- Functional/Cross Department Teams
- Self-Managed Teams
- Informal Teams
- Leadership Teams
2. How do you organize project teams?
- Set a Goal
- Get the team together
- Delegate ownerships and responsibilities
- Regularly Communicate and Share information with your team
- Monitor team’s progress regularly
- Ensure proper Training
- Give Rewards and Appreciation judiciously
3. What is the project team structure?
- Project Manager
- Project Sponsor
- Steering Committee
- Project team members
4. List the basic elements of project management?
- Scope: Project size, goals, requirements
- Resources: People, equipment, hardware/software, others
- Money: Costs, contingencies, profit.
- Time: Task durations, schedule management, critical path.