8.3. Identifying Staffing Requirements and Constraints
We briefly discussed roles and responsibilities in an earlier section, but that was a more generic list of desired or needed roles and responsibilities based on project requirements. Now you need to identify specific people to fill those roles and take on those responsibilities. This often requires a bit of negotiation and salesmanship to get the right people on board with the project. Selling the project doesn't mean saying things that are false or misleading. Just the opposite. You should be able to present the project in a positive, enthusiastic manner and be prepared to describe the benefits to any team members that you need on the project. We all know that some team members don't really have a choice as to whether to participate in the project or not, but others do have options and if you need their time, talent, or cooperation (or you need their manager to release them to your project), you need to clearly make the case for what's in it for them. People don't care as much about how you'll benefit from their participation (well, everyone likes an ego boost now and then) as much as they want to know what's in it for them. If you can't clearly state that, you may have a hard time convincing them to participate. Forcing someone to work on a project they don't want to work on always yields sub-optimal results because you'll be dragging them along with the project rather than having them help lead the way.
Remember to look at staffing requirements in terms of internal and external: Internal/external to your IT group, to your division, to your location, or to your company. You may need consultants, vendor experts, industry experts, legal or financial experts, or experts on governmental regulations to assist in your project. Make sure you've looked thoroughly at your project requirements and defined the roles and responsibilities that will address all those requirements. Then look for the right people to fill those roles.
Constraints for staffing come in many forms, as most of you already know. Sometimes the ideal candidate is not available for another three months and the project has to get underway next month. Sometimes the ideal candidate simply does not exist. Sometimes you have two or three people who, together, have all the right skills and talents you need, but you can't grab all three for the project. Sometimes you can't seem to successfully navigate the political waters to acquire the talent you need. The list goes on and on in terms of staffing constraints.
Begin by identifying any known constraints, such as the need for a particular skill or talent at a particular point in the project (remember, the project team may shift over the lifecycle of the project as you move from one phase to the next). Keep in mind that since you have not yet broken down your project into the work units (we'll do that in Chapter 9), you may not have a complete list of required skills at this point. You may need to add or subtract resources once you've completed your Work Breakdown Structure (see Chapter 9).
Next, determine if the skills and talents you've identified for your project exist within your team, division, or company. If not, you're going to have to go outside the company for that skill. If the talent is internal, are they available for the project and can you get them assigned to your project? If the talent is external, was this figured into the project cost estimate and can you locate and afford to hire that talent? If your project depends on a rare talent that only four people in the world have, you not only will have more trouble locating, acquiring, and affording that talent, but you also have identified another very serious project risk (again, we'll tackle project risk later on).
Be sure to review your requirements, especially legal, financial, and governmental to make sure you have the expertise on your IT project team to address these requirements. You may need to bring in your corporate attorney or accountant or you may need to hire an industry or governmental expert to ensure you meet these types of requirements. You may need to put some of your team through training to address the need for specific expertise and we'll talk more about training in just a bit.
If your IT project is being conducted in an environment where labor unions are present, you may also have to contend with union requirements or regulations as a staffing constraint. For instance, if your IT project is developing a new program to run a particular manufacturing machine and you'll need to get the machinists to test the program for you, you may have to work with union leadership to get this done in a manner that complies with union rules and meets your IT project's needs.