"The sum of its equal parts is greater than the whole."
Before a Web firm can contract for projects, a solid working team must be in place. Some firms are made up of one or two people. However, as the projects themselves or the volume of projects get larger, the Web firm relies on more team members to roll them out. As the size of the firm grows, so does the number of human interfaces, which can either benefit a project or bog it down.
Speaking from experience, I can say that it takes a long time to build a reliable team that can react fluidly to project events. Finding talented individuals, who wish to enhance the firm, is difficult. However, as the firm's reputation builds, so do the reputations of the team members. Commitment to teamwork benefits everyone.
Members of the team may be coming from different places. Some may be subcontractors, brought in for a specific project. Others may be long-time employees. When assembling a team, the project manager must make the decision regarding human resources. However, I always follow the paradigm to contract on the project first and then hire or subcontract the personnel later. One may want to keep abreast of which subcontractors are available at any given time. I'm often in touch with my subcontractors every week or so and am aware of their schedules. However, subcontractors get very tired of dealing with firms that take their time describing a project, ask about the subcontractor's schedule, and then award the contract elsewhere. I say very little or nothing to my subs until a project is ready to be contracted. I feel that to do otherwise falls into the same category of a potential client who keeps calling the firm, bending everyone's ear, but never will commit on contracting the project. After a while, no one takes them seriously. This subject is discussed in Chapter 10.
The project manager's leadership skills will come into play when dealing with all of these constituencies. He or she must be willing to listen, have excellent communication skills, be task oriented while satisfying the needs of the team members, model good team conduct, and be able to address negative undercurrents fairly. The project manager may not only find himself or herself as a mediator between the firm and the client, but between team members as well. Therefore, an ability to rise above a given conflict and not take issues personally is not only a desirable trait in a project manager but rather necessity to keep the team in working order.
I used to take criticism to heart. As the owner of a new Web site development business, I felt crushed whenever anyone had anything to say that was less than positive within my team. In several cases, I had to build the confidence to know whether I was dealing with my problem or someone else's. With experience comes a track record of success and an innate ability to determine the impetus for the disagreement. I am also much better at assembling my team now because I know what to look for in a potential team member.
It's quite simple-when I start thinking about the challenges of dealing with a particular team member more than the challenges that the projects are presenting, I know that it's time for that team member to go elsewhere. This comes with experience. The more you deal with Web development people, the easier it is to select individuals who will fit in best on certain projects.