Monday, July 21, 2008

Building the team - Buffer resources

You are a project manager. You work with a team of skillful professionals. The project is stable. The team works perfectly and in unison with the aim/goal of the project. There are no escalations from the client. It seems like a dream, but so far you've been gifted with it.

Scene 1:The client is happy and expresses his/her wish to offload some more work to you. You are all excited.

Scene 2:Murphy's law is always lurking around to spring into action. And at one fine moment it gets active. One of your key members chooses to call it quit.

Now your topmost priority is to go hunting for some new members to add to your team.

Yours is an organization assessed at one of the top CMMi levels. Hiring processes are well in place. You inform the resource manager of the upcoming requirement. Chances are that, your organization already has a few buffers whose experience/skill sets match the broad specifications provided by you. If you are new to project management, then this might sound as if your job is already half done. But wait! Think. Is it really so?

Most of these buffers would be young 'fresh out of college' lot. They may not have the exposure to the technologies your project uses, but they'd be brimming with enthusiasm and raring to take the challenges head-on. You 'talk' to a few of them, and your confusion level increases. You can't decide whether to absorb Mr./Ms. X or Mr./Ms. Y; One is very promising in terms of the ad-hoc extra work that your project demands, while the other is technically inclined, but looks averse to (even) rare incidences when it comes to stretching their time. These situations are just the tip of the iceberg. The more you talk to the 'resources' the more confused you tend to get. You are in a fix.

Now you don't have much time, as the new resource MUST join in a defined time frame. (The notice period issued by the outgoing team mate is exhausting very fast OR the client is on your head to get the team ready on war front as they are tight with their deadlines to launch their new software/system in order to combat their competition.)

Your own boss is also interested in what's happening at this front. According to him/her, these resources are already a part of the organization. They have already gone through a 'rigorous' hiring process. So he/she insists on having a really short discussion and let the resource manager know of the person on whom you are going to zero-in.

Frankly speaking, you are sure that, none of the droplets in the resource pool suit your needs. You either don't have the option to look outside the organization or you don't have enough time that would take and outsider into your team. But you are a manager and now it's YOUR test. Because, after all, managing the resources (and not just Human resources) is what should be your forte. It's you who has to put your foot down and make the decision.

Have you gone though such a situation? What did you do then? How are the new team-members working out? Are you at the same earlier level of the project where everything looks like a dream? Is it better than earlier or the other way round? Did the concept of buffers prove to be helpful/disastrous?

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