Burning Rubber at the Start of Your Project

Get the Best Pit Crew

The success of any auto race depends on having a crew who will work together to get the car across the finish line first. The car owner starts by identifying the pit crew chief and together they identify the different roles required to prepare the car, race it and maintain it during the race. Each of the team members is selected for their expertise at their role and they understand what their role in the whole operation is.

Building our project teams is similar to putting together a top pit crew. As a project manager, it is important to work with a sponsor to identify the appropriate roles required for our project. We then develop the list of responsibilities for each role. The responsibilities should be stated as areas of responsibility rather than a task list. The next step is to identify the individuals who would best fit the identified roles.

Confirm Roles and Responsibilities of the Crew

Once the team is selected, it is important to confirm the roles that each person will play. One way to do this is to use a strengths and weaknesses exercise. Each team member individually lists the strengths they bring to the team related to the identified roles and responsibilities. They also list their weaknesses relative to the roles and responsibilities. Each team member then shares their lists with the other team members so that names can be assigned to roles based on what each team member brings to the team. The sharing of weaknesses allows team members to help each other compensate for those areas that are not personal strengths.

In this way, each team member knows exactly what role they play in the team and what they will be responsible for – so you get the best crew possible. When necessary, coaching and/or training is available to facilitate this process.

Create a Powerful Engine

The engine of a racing car is a finely tuned piece of equipment that will be the focal point of the entire crew. The ability of the crew to keep the engine running will determine the success of the car. The entire team is involved in making sure every aspect of the engine is tuned to optimal levels.

In a similar way, the scope statement is the focal point of the project team. It is the key document that the team uses to keep the project on track.

The entire team should be involved in developing the scope statement. While it appears that it would take less time if the project manager developed a draft scope statement and brought it to the team for modification, our experience is that in most cases, major modifications are not made and the level of buy-in by the team is low. When the entire team is involved in the development of the scope statement, they get an opportunity to buy-in to what is being developed and their level of commitment to the project is higher.

The team needs to be very clear on the project goal and the deliverables need to be measurable. The scope statement also needs to be detailed enough to reduce the range of interpretation by team members and stakeholders. The clarity that detail and measurability bring allows the team the freedom to complete the tasks without the loss of focus that comes from time spent wondering whether work being done is in or out of scope.

Race to the Finish!

When a clear scope statement guides a properly formed team, they can start their project quickly and ensure they reach the finish line taking the checkered flag.

Dave Paradi

David Paradi, senior associate of Business Improvement Architects, is an experienced facilitator and Project Leader. He specializes in the areas of Project Management and Leadership and is a presentations expert. David has a solid understanding of Project Management and Leadership through his experience as a project leader, project team member and facilitator of strategic planning processes. He has led development of strategic directions for organizations, project teams in the launch of new products, the development of next generation administration and marketing systems and the introduction of processes that are more streamlined.