Project team

Composition of project teams

The project team includes everyone who carries out tasks of project planning and implementation and who, in performing those duties, reports to the "project management. Project teams may include people from different departments of an organization and from different organizations, whereby the ratio of line organization and project organization can be designed in many different ways.

Selection of project staff

The posts created by a project can be filled once the financing is in place and the implementation assured. The project leader should preferably be designated before the other project staff is selected. This allows the project leader to participate in the selection process and to ensure that the team is complementary.

The recruitment of team members should be initiated only when the profile of the required technical, methodological and social skills has been established and when detailed task descriptions are available.

Binding nature of collaboration

Collaboration is facilitated and the risk of staff fluctuation reduced if binding agreements on the subject and the conditions of collaboration are established. Experienced staff from within the executing institution may be asked to participate, or jobs with the desired profile may be advertised. In both cases binding written agreements are needed.

If an external specialist is engaged, a suitable contract specifying tasks, wages and conditions of employment (e.g. social security contributions) has to be concluded.

If people from within the institution are charged with the project management or assigned to any other project task, there needs to be a written agreement regarding workload and responsibilities.

For many projects, mandates are entrusted to external experts. To ensure the binding nature of such mandates, contracts or agreements of service stipulating in detail the expected services must be concluded.

If non-paid volunteers are involved in a project (e.g. representatives delegated by the target groups and stakeholders) their functions also need to be specified in a written agreement.

Turnover in personnel

Despite all precautions, turnover in personnel must be envisaged and it is important to provide for this eventuality from the start. If changes in personnel occur during the course of a project valuable project-specific experience may be lost. Newcomers might find it difficult to understand what has been done previously and this could slow the project down.

It is therefore useful to name a person to replace each important post in a project, in case of short-term absence (illness, accident). The question of appropriate documentation also needs to be addressed early on in the project and then has to be planned, implemented and supervised accordingly.

Note: Depending on the stage of the project the following recommendations and questions on which to reflect are addressed to the project sponsors, the project management and / or the project team.

Bibliographical references

  • Kerzner, Harold (2006). Project Management. A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. Ninth edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Portny, Stanley E. (2007). Project Management for Dummies. 2nd edition. Hoboken: Wiley.

Why you would disregard these aspects

  • The institution responsible for the project imposes internal candidates who are available and who need to be occupied in a new position.
  • When selecting candidates you tend to choose people with similar profiles rather than with complementary ones.
  • You do not conclude written agreements with people from your own institution because they are already well known to you, nor for small external mandates, as the effort it takes appears to be too great.
  • With people from your own institution the terms of collaboration on a project are not negotiated, but unilaterally decided - a situation that can cause resistance or work overload.
  • You work on the assumption that a project team is a stable entity and you are not prepared either for absences due to sickness or for changes in personnel.

What you have to gain

  • The choice of collaborators is easier if you are clear about the roles and duties of each member of the team and if there are clear job descriptions. This also increases the chances of having a strong and stable project team.
  • If you choose collaborators whose skills and interests best fit the requirements and who have enough time to dedicate to the project, fluctuations in the project team are less likely and the accomplishment of project objectives is facilitated.
  • A transparent project structure, clear working methods and excellent documentation all reduce the risk of losing valuable know-how and acquired experience in case of changes in personnel and make integration of new team members easier.

What you can actually do

  • The institution in charge of the project first selects the project leader who is then involved in the selection of project staff.
  • Before choosing staff, all tasks need to be defined and described and the required skills identified. Distinguish between required and desirable skills. Not all the project staff have to provide all the skills.
  • Make sure that the skills within the team are complementary. A good team needs different personalities, who perform different roles in terms of collaboration ("team development).
  • Make sure that the project staff are fully behind the fundamental values of health promotion and that they are willing to actively defend them.
  • A service contract or agreement has to be concluded for each mandate. Check if your institution has a standard contract for such mandates.

Questions for critical reflection

  • Are all members of the project team aware of their own tasks and the effort needed to accomplish them? Are they also aware of the duties and roles of the other team members?
  • Are people from within the institution motivated to collaborate on the project? Are they given enough time to work on it? And are they willing to recognize the project leader in his/her role?
  • What could hinder committed and focused collaboration within the project team? Are "Team development measures required (e.g. if the project staff hardly know each other or have very different backgrounds)?
  • Would the project team be able to take on extra work in the event of unexpected absences among the personnel (e.g. accidents, illness)? If not, what arrangements could be made?