Selecting the people that you intend to use on a project can present well-defined risk not only to the task at hand but to also to the work package, project stage and ultimately to the project as a whole.
It is common knowledge that some canny line managers faced with providing personnel to several projects will assign their subordinates according to how prestigious the project is and how its successful completion will make them look. This problem is compounded by the usually accepted doctrine of ‘who shouts loudest gets the best resources’ doctrine in many companies.
So how does the new canny project manager account for these risks?
The solution to this problem comes in four parts.
The project manager should delve deeply into previous project files to identify who has worked on them in a team member capacity.
Then s/he must take a look at person’s personnel files to ascertain their skill/qualification level and from the previous project files their motivation level in getting work completed on time and to the right quality.
The last step in this part is to rank each person in a three by three matrix for low, medium, high for skill level on the vertical axis and low medium high for motivation level on the horizontal axis.
Part two is a little bit more difficult and sensitive:
The project manager needs to assess line managers in another three by three matrix. On the vertical axis is their commitment to project work rated again as low, medium and high. On the horizontal axes is their propensity towards self glorification (giving best workers to the best projects to make them look good) and this should be rated in the opposite direction high, medium and low.
This part consists of forming a matrix within a matrix. Firstly create a large matrix for the line manager as outlined above and then segment each square into smaller squares for low, medium and high on both axes again as outlined above.
So, now we have the big matrix for the line manager and within that the small matrixes for their staff/workers.
We need to do this for each person who is going to work on the project.
Firstly locate the matrix box for the line manager as outlined above say he comes as medium / medium so it will be the middle square in the matrix.
Then we locate within that square the matrix for the worker, which may be again medium skill and medium motivation.
This places that worker smack bang in the middle and we can assign a 50:50 chance of getting the job done on time and to the right quality.
But what if the manager’s interest in projects was low and his self-satisfying politicking was high with the same worker. This worker would be in the centre of the bottom left hand box of the managers matrix which would significantly lower at around 10 to 15 percent probability that their work would be completed on time and to the right quality.
On the other hand, if the manager was fully committed to making projects successful and totally professional e.g. indifferent to playing political games. Then that same worker would now appear in the centre of the upper right hand box in the management matrix and the chances of the project succeeding on time and to the desired quality would be 85 to 90 percent certain.
Now of course if the manager was perfect and rated high : low and the worker was a real dream and rated high : high then we would be looking at zero risk in both the management main matrix and the worker sub-matrix and also to a nice bonus at the end of the project.
You can refine this by assuming that each project manager would have taken the best possible worker from that department in sequence for each project that is open.
By plotting matrixes for each worker by rank in the management matrix would give you an idea or what would have been available and what is available to you now baring in mind that your project is say number 4, 6 or 10 in the overall sequence.
This information is really useful if you are going to argue that your project is more critical or important than others.
This also raises the issue is it better to have a project worker with say a high : high rating coming from a department with a manager with say a Low : High rating or conversely a worker with say Low : Low rating from a department with a manager that is High : Low rated.
This decision would obviously depend on how much direct management the line manager was going to provide and how complex the task was for the project worker.
Go through this with a pen and paper and draw it out and you will see that it works just fine. Of course for you mathematical minded people you could tweak this idea and assign percentages to each of the matrixes and risk probability score.
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