Flinging spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks is one way to divvy out project work. But it’s messy and you tend to lose a lot along the way.
A better approach to work allocation among project team members is to consider who has the best skills, experience, interest and availability to do the job.
If you need to build a boat, get a boat builder. If you need someone to run a complex project, get someone with the skills to get the job done. As with anything, matching skill levels and competencies with the task at hand is critical. Ask yourself whether the person has the skills required to complete the task successfully. If so, he or she should be at the top of your list.
Level of Experience
Has the resource in question done this sort of task before? If so, that person will have the relevant experience and the confidence to do it again and probably won’t need much support from you.
If he or she done it before, but you believe they have the skills to do the work, consider this an opportunity for the person to learn on the job with your support to complete the task successfully. Building experience and investing in your project managers will pay off long-term.
Even if someone has the skills and experience, the person may be uninterested. Consider the person’s motivation and level of engagement before asking for a commitment.
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If the person has done the same task a thousand times before and really wants to spend some time building experience in other areas, then you could still allocate the work, but it might not be done to the highest standard, or in a timely fashion.
A simple of rule of thumb is to ask. It will save you time and possible heartache over the long run.
The expense of engaging your best resource may exceed your budget. Before you allocate a task, ensure that you can afford the talent you are engaging.
The person best placed to do the work may be far too expensive for your project budget, so you may have to compromise.
At the same time, just as you wouldn’t rent a Jaguar just to drive to the supermarket, you wouldn’t ask a highly paid programme manager to do basic administrative tasks that support personnel could easily do. Consider the level of importance of the task before commiting resources to it.
The Seat of the Assignment
Consider the location of the project. In many cases, it is irrelevant where your team members are located.
But there are likely to be some tasks where location does play a part. For example, configuring servers on site, or working at a client location for a length of time.
You want to pick someone who is the best person for the job, but if you have a choice of resource you could find that location plays a part in the decision-making process.
It’s cheaper if you don’t have to pay travel expenses and it’s probably more convenient for the resource concerned if the work is local to where they are normally based.
Finally, you should take availability into account. While your team member might be enthusiastic, fit to the task and interested, he or she may be overloaded as it is.
Assess whether the person can really take on the assignment without dropping the ball due to other work.
It is pointless to assign a task to someone whose plate is already full while other team members could be more capable from a time perspective.
Doing projects right requires allocating the right resources. A little forethought can save you a ton of heartache in the end.
Alan Garvey, is managing director, EMEA and Asia, at ESI International,. He leads a regional team of professionals who are responsible for all aspects of ESI learning programme development and delivery.www.esi-intl.co.uk
This was first published in June 2014