Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Project Team Management

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Project Team Management

Article excerpt

Increasingly, managers are recognizing that teamwork is a critical element in effective management. Whether the challenge is to design and implement a new management information system, improve service quality processes, or plan and carry out an office move, a well structured and managed project team can spell the difference between success and disaster. In today's competitive environment most organizations need to be successful to survive.

What are the key elements in successful project teamwork? And how can managers increase the probability of a successful team effort?

A project team needs a clear mandate. The objectives of the project need to be clearly spelled out. Project team members need to share a common understanding of what they are expected to deliver. All parts of the organization on which they will impact during the course of the project need to understand the role of the project team. Top management support for the project and the role of the project team is essential. But the team members must also "earn" the support of their colleagues throughout the organization.

The composition of the project team should be set with the project objectives clearly in mind. Often the best project team is one that represents a "diagonal cross-section" through the organization -- with representatives from different levels.

Members bring important attributes to the team. Selection criteria should reflect the functional skills, experience, and various types of "organization knowledge" needed to carry out the project. Equally important are the personal attributes that members bring to the team. Well-developed interpersonal skills, a willingness to "go the extra mile" to achieve the project objectives, and a sense of time urgency are basic pre-requisites.

Team members should also be selected with implementation considerations in mind. Successful implementation will require the commitment of those involved. At least some team members should be capable of influencing those individuals that are critical to implementation.

The selection of the team leader can make or break a project team. Depending on the nature and stage of the project, the team leader may play the role of coach or quarterback (or both!). Typically in the early stages of a project the leader needs to call some plays setting direction and helping the team score some early points. But as the team learns to work together, the most effective role for the leader may be that of coach -- providing individual members and the team as a whole with the encouragement and scope to exercise initiative and achieve results. …

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