Project team builders fail to value experience

IT directors build project teams on a cost and availability basis, rather than by making sure team members have the right...

IT directors build project teams on a cost and availability basis, rather than by making sure team members have the right expertise, according to the latest research published by Brunel University.

A survey of 80 UK IT directors conducted by the Fluid Business team at Brunel revealed that only 22% of respondents selected staff for IT projects by taking their experience into account.

Although 47% of respondents said they valued human facets of development over cost, 79% admitted that they allocate staff to a project on the basis of the project's characteristics and the company's usual practices, rather than choosing the best individuals for the job.

Mark Lycett, project leader for Fluid Business, said, "These results show that although companies understand the importance of people in projects, they rarely act on that understanding.

"Deciding who will work on which project is usually just a case of who is free at the time. This is all very well in terms of resource management, but those who are free may not be the best people for the job."

A recent survey of 134 firms conducted by KPMG revealed that 56% of respondents had needed to write off at least one IT project in the past year.

"The way to avoid this failure might be to ensure that IT teams are trained properly, but those who manage staff training usually adopt a short-term attitude," Lycett said.

"As IT project managers are often responsible for training budgets, training tends to be focused on supplying the skills needed for the project under way at the time, rather than looking at people's skill sets and developing their expertise or experience."

The Fluid Business project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, was set up to investigate how people, processes and technology can help businesses adapt to changing environments.

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