I’ve always been of the mindset that my project is the most important project, and I want the best resources I can get for each skill set. The best of the best to offer my project client…that should keep them satisfied. That should work, right? Wrong! And let me tell you why…at least why I think so and you can give me your opinions.
Always the best for me!
When you’re running a project and you know that it’s a high profile project and you know that you’re on a tight schedule and that everyone’s eyes are on the project and on you – you want your best resources available for the project, right? You want the most skilled and experienced resources that money can buy. You want the best resources your organization can offer.
In reality – at least from my own experiences and from what I’ve witnessed on colleagues’ projects – sometimes the best is not always the best for your project. Having the best in each resource category can sometimes be a huge plus for your project, but it also usually means these high-level resources are in high demand and are probably playing key roles on one or more other projects.
In most of the organizations I’ve been involved in, being a project manager has meant leading five or six or more projects at a time. If I’m going for the best resources in each skilled area, others are too…on their many projects. What that means is that these resources are in high demand…and are often assigned to several high-profile projects at the same time. That generally is not good news overall because any blip on the project radar can cause them to be unavailable to your project, regardless of what you had them schedule to do for you tomorrow.
Constant threat of losing top resources
Your projects are in a constant threat of having a key, highly-skilled resource pulled off your project to consult on issues that arise on another project – meaning their time available to you can be limited or unexpectedly interrupted. I’ve had it happen several times – even if my project was extremely important. All it takes is one slightly more important project to need that resource badly and POOF!, they’re gone for a while. And depending on their workload at that moment, it can be devastating to your project. When a key resource suddenly disappears from your project, customer satisfaction and customer confidence are the first things to take a hit. Customers start to perceive that you’re treating them as a less important client and can quickly become frustrated.
I’ve had projects that I’ve led where I’ve had possibly the top company resource in a particular skill category and it has served me well on some of those projects and it’s also served me quite poorly on other occasions. One project comes to mind specifically where I lost an extremely talented business analyst for an extended period of time to another project he was simultaneously working on. Deadlines started to pass and my customer began thinking they were being treated like a second-class client. They were not happy and they were certainly becoming dissatisfied quickly. It took some extreme action on my part including going to senior management and my resources’ direct supervisor, but I got him back and straightened out the project schedule. But some irreversible damage had already been done. Customer confidence and satisfaction is a very hard thing to build back up once some of it has been lost.
Here’s the takeaway from this article…the best is good, but sometimes a lesser, but hungry resource can be better. At least more stable when it comes to working on your project and the tasks you assign them to. I’ve always found that a consistent resource is better than a sporadic one, no matter the skill set as long as both are experienced enough to actually do the work. And, if you need some help from a more experienced resource along the way (for mentoring, guidance, short-term assistance) it’s easier to get and you likely have some budget wiggle-room to get that resource. In the end, you will have kept your team intact and won’t have to deal with the time consuming and budget eating resource onboarding process and the re-work and re-education that can sometimes go into that process.