Russell D. Archibald
PMP, PMI Fellow

PMI-Texas Connection 2001
Sept. 14-15, 2001 Houston, Texas.
Published here March 2002.

Abstract | Challenges | Full Power | Business Strategies | Objectives
Portfolio Management | Process | Principles | Key Roles | Planning & Control
Team Working | Improvement | Integration | Internet | Conclusion

Integrated Project Team-Working

The third basic concept of project management is that of designating and managing the project team, to integrate the efforts of all contributors to the project. Projects consist of many diverse tasks that require the expertise and resources of a number of different specialties. These tasks are assigned to various people and organizations, usually from both within and outside the organization holding primary responsibility for the project. Other persons hold decision making, regulatory, and approval authority over certain aspects of a project. All of these persons contributing to a given project are considered members of that project team. The most effective project management is achieved when all such contributors collaborate and work together as a well-trained team, under the integrative leadership of the project manager.

The advantages of effective team-working, especially in conjunction with the other two primary concepts of project management discussed above„focused, integrative responsibilities and integrative, predictive planning and control„include:

  • The ability to bring needed multiple disciplines together from diverse organizations to collaborate creatively to achieve project objectives.
  • Understanding of and strong commitment to the project and its objectives.
  • Development of jointly agreed plans, schedules and budgets for executing the project, with resulting commitment to achieving the results within the target schedule and cost.
  • Frequent monitoring of progress and expenditures and re-forecasting their future impact on intermediate milestones and project completion.
  • Achieving outstanding performance on the project„at Internet speed.

Requirements for an Effective Team and for Excellent Teamwork

Because a project is comprised of a number of diverse tasks different people„each having the required expertise and experience„are needed to perform each task. In the broadest sense, all persons contributing to a project are members of the project team. However, on larger projects it is not possible to have several hundred or several thousand people working as one giant, monolithic team. Therefore we must identify the key project team members in order to have a reasonable number of people to work with as a team. These key team members will include at least the project manager (the team leader) and the key functional project leaders (discussed earlier). Each of these persons becomes a team leader of their sub-team within the overall project team.

The term "functional project leader" is used here generically, and includes people within the project's parent organization as well as people in outside organizations, such as consultants, contractors, vendors and suppliers. In many projects the client or customer is an active contributor, and therefore is included as a member of the team. When possible, inclusion on the project team of representatives of other outside organizations that contribute in some way to the project can be very beneficial. Such organizations include financial institutions, regulatory or oversight agencies, and labor unions, as examples.

To have an effective project team, as distinct from simply a group of people working on loosely related tasks, five conditions are necessary:

  1. Identification of the project team members and definition of the role and responsibilities of each.
  2. Clearly stated and understood project objectives.
  3. An achievable project plan and schedule.
  4. Reasonable rules of the game (procedures regarding information flow, communication, team meetings, and the like).
  5. Leadership by the project manager.

If any of these conditions is not present it will be difficult to achieve effective teamwork.

1.  Identification of the Project Team Members and Definition of the Role and Responsibilities of Each

CEO Demands:
22. That a complete team list as described here is produced and distributed to all key team members.

It seems obvious that in order to have an effective team, the team players must be identified. However, experience shows that project managers often fail to do this, or only identify their team members on an "as needed" basis when a new task comes up that cannot be performed by someone already on the team. In some cases the project manager may know the team members, but will fail to inform the other members, so that only the project manager knows who is on the team.

Using the defined project scope and objectives and the initial list of project deliverables, a listing of all project team members is compiled and distributed to the entire team. This list should include each team member's full name, address (regular and e-mail), voice and facsimile telephone numbers, and any other pertinent communication information. Frequently, this list will include home telephone numbers. For those project teams that have established escalation procedures (for resolving issues, conflicts or other problems), the team member's immediate supervisor with office and home telephone numbers are also listed.

The general duties and responsibilities of each team member will normally be documented by the organization's human resource practices and its project management process description. However, for effective project teamwork it is imperative to define the responsibilities of each team member for each task to be carried out on their specific project. The best tool available for this purpose is the task/responsibility matrix[19] based on the project/work breakdown structure.

2.  Clearly Stated and Understood Project Objectives

CEO Demands:
23. That the project team develops a statement of project objectives that all team members understand and support „ consistent with the 'official' project objectives „ within two weeks of the team formation.

The basic project objectives will usually be known prior to identifying the project team members. However, for effective teamwork, experience has demonstrated that a team effort is required to clarify, expand on, and quantify these initial project objectives, with input as appropriate with the project customer, to produce a statement of objectives that all members of the team understand, accept and are committed to. Hastings et. al.[20] point out that teams must be aware that there are multiple and often conflicting sets of expectations about their performance on the project, including expectations from outside the project, the team, and each individual team member. These authors suggest thinking about good performance and successful achievement along two dimensions, the hard/soft dimension and the acceptable/excellent dimension. The hard/soft dimension refers to two different kinds of criteria of performance, and the acceptable/excellent dimension refers to two different standards of performance.

CEO Demands:
24. That project teams set both hard and soft criteria for project success.

"The Hard/Soft Dimension: The hard/soft dimension concerns the tangible and intangible aspects of performance. Hard criteria tend to be measurable, the most frequent being to do with time, cost, resources and technical standards. Soft criteria on the other hand are more subjective and difficult to measure. Yet they are clearly used frequently in evaluating performance. They are more about "how" the task was accomplished, the attitudes, skills and behavior demonstrated by the team and its members ... .

"In setting success criteria ordinary teams tend to concentrate on hard criteria only and ask questions such as, "How many, how much and when?" Superteams do all this too (and mostly more punctiliously) but add another dimension. They also draw out clients' and sponsors' more subtle expectations, those to do with ways of working and the relationships with the client, to attitudes adopted on such things as quality, reliability and attention to detail. These are all factors that are crucial to a client's ultimate satisfaction. Equally these soft criteria are explored, clarified and agreed with the sponsor, and service departments.

CEO Demands:
25. That each project team establishes success criteria to achieve excellent results, beyond the normal acceptable standards.
"The Acceptable/Excellent Dimension. The acceptable/excellent dimension on the other hand concerns standards of performance. And it is around this dimension that the whole Superteam idea was originally crystallized. In a world where the best is no longer good enough, the frontiers of performance are always being stretched. "The best can always be bettered" could almost be the Superteam motto. We find many teams who think that their performance is good, but who in fact are under-performing. They may be averagely good when compared with those other teams they see. Their performance is acceptable but in no way outstanding ... . Superteams strive to be different, and achieve just a little bit more than the competition. They are constantly looking for ways to do things better, constantly testing their assumptions about what is achievable and searching for ways to overcome any problems that lie in the path."[21]

In achieving results beyond the normal acceptable standards the project manager and team must always be alert to the fact that such results must be achieved within the bounds of the established schedule, resources available and cost.

3.  An Achievable Project Plan and Schedule

CEO Demands:
26. That each team establishes an achievable project plan to which all team members are committed.

Effective teamwork depends heavily on having a project plan and schedule that reflects the way the team members will actually do the work. The team must understand and be committed to the plan and schedule, which must be reasonably achievable. The project management literature contains abundant descriptions of how to plan projects. For example, "Project Team Planning and Project Start-Up"[22], describes methods for setting the stage for effective project teamworking..

4.  Reasonable Rules of the Game

CEO Demands:
27. That the corporate project management process documentation includes the procedures needed to insure effective teamwork.

Reasonable rules, procedures, guidelines and practices for how the project will be planned, the work authorized, progress reported and evaluated, conflicts escalated and resolved, and so on, must be established. Trying to achieve good teamwork on a complex project without having such established procedures is like collecting the best athletes from six different sports and turning them loose on an open, unmarked field with instructions to "play the game as hard as you can".

ććććććććććććććć Each organization must develop its own set of project procedures covering the topics of importance within its environment. On large projects, such procedures are usually tailored to the specific needs of that project and issued to all team members in the form of a Project Procedures Handbook, Project Manual, Project Guidelines, or some similar document. The project procedures usually rely on established corporate practices and procedures wherever possible, and avoid duplication or conflict with such practices.

5.  Leadership By the Project Manager

CEO Demands:
28. That project managers be given appropriate leadership training prior to their being put in charge of any major project.

Extensive literature exists on the subject of leadership, and it is not the intent here to treat this complex and important subject in great detail. The key point to be made is that the project manager is expected to be the leader of the project. Successful project managers have used many different styles and methods of leadership, depending on their own personalities, experience, interpersonal skills and technical competence on the one hand, and the characteristics of the project and its environment on the other. Owens concluded the following regarding project leadership and related behavioral topics:

  • Leadership behavior. Project managers cannot rely on one particular leadership style to influence other people's behavior. Different situations call for different approaches, and leaders must be sensitive to the unique features of circumstances and personalities.
  • Motivational techniques. An awareness of unfulfilled needs residing in the team is required to successfully appraise motivational requirements and adjust a job's design to meet those needs.
  • Interpersonal and organizational communications. Conflict situations occur regularly. A problem-solving or confrontation approach (confronting the problem and not the persons), using informal group sessions, can be a useful resolution strategy.
  • Decision-making and team-building skills. Participative decision making meets the needs of individual team members and contributes toward effective decisions and team unit.[23]
Application of Integrative and Predictive Project Planning and Control Systems  Project Planning and Control Systems

18. Ibid, 301.
19. Ibid, 208.
20. Hastings, Colin, Peter Bixby and Rani Chaudhry-Lawton, The Superteam Solution, University Associates, San Diego, 1987, 32-42.
21. Ibid, 35-37.
22. Ono, Daniel P., and Russell D. Archibald, Chapter 28, "Team Infrastructure Management: Project Team Planning and Project Start-Up," Project Management for the Business Professional: A Comprehensive Guide, Joan Knutson, Editor, Wiley, NY, 2001, 528-549.
23. Owens, Stephen D., "Project Management and Behavioral Research Revisited," Project Management Institute Proceedings (Toronto 1982), p II-F.1.
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