Delivering projects is a tricky business, achieved by skilled practitioners in their field – be it software development, events management, construction, oil & gas etc. It is the wonderful individuals who work on projects who deliver the output that will ultimately mean the project meeting its business case. However, the reality is that not all team members will be an expert in every element of their discipline when they start on the project – they will all have strengths and weaknesses. But how do you know those strengths and weaknesses so you can plan for them, exploiting the strengths and mitigating the weaknesses? This is where a role & skill assessment can come in; this activity can be performed at the Project level initially during project start-up, documented in a large table or spreadsheet, or perhaps at a wider organisational level in some sort of resource planning tool.
The first step of this is to have defined roles within your project or preferably your wider organisation. Rather than having anybody do almost anything, project teams tend to have individuals who work in specialisms: be it plumber, software tester or project manager. These roles need to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, tasks which are expected to be completed, and criteria which they are assessed on. Without these it is impossible to then identify what skills are associated with them, and thus ensure your team is skilled appropriately.
Step two is to identify skills which are associated with each role, or even skills groups, so that we can then assess team members against them. For a software developer for example, we may have a group relating to software languages (Jave, C# etc) a group relating to processes (code reviews, unit testing etc) and a group relating to soft skills (team leadership, facilitation etc).
Step three is to then use some sort of scale to rate individuals for each of their skills. We’ve seen 1-10 scales used before, but in your profession can you really identify the difference between a 6 and a 7? If not then consider using a word based scale such as : Untrained, Trained, Competent, Highly Competent, Expert. Don’t see or define this scale in any way in which is may be seen to be rating less experienced team members in any sort of negative fashion, but try to put definitions round what each level means for each skill and make it clear what individuals need to achieve to move up to the next level.
Step four is where you actually do something with the information to put it to use: we need to ascertain what skills levels we actually need for each role in our project, and identify gaps vs the skill levels of resources we actually have available. Perhaps we don’t have a sufficiently skill resources, so we know we either need to hire a new team member or organise training and development for our existing team. Alternatively, perhaps our resources are too experienced and we only need some basic skill – we could be tying up expertise that could be better used elsewhere or paying over the odds for talent we don’t need, damaging project margin.
How to you identify and plan for your team’s experience and expertise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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