The more courses we run, the more times we hear the statement; “we do not get the right resources onto our projects.”
Several articles point to a ‘national crisis’ (see Business Fear Skills Shortages Could Hold Back Growth or UK firms facing ‘critical’ skills shortage ) and there is even an official government skills shortage list
To deliver projects effectively project managers need to increase the probability of project success. Having a well trained project team clearly helps and contributes to increasing the probability.
What can a project manager do to firstly identify the skills gap and then decide what to do about it?
Identifying the skills you have and those you need
In my early days as a training officer, I discovered a simple matrix that can help identify the resources needed, or the skills of the staff you have. I have used this many times with many companies to help them look at the skills they need.
The matrix looks like this:
The matrix can be used in two ways:
- to identify the skills you need to deliver your project effectively. This is probably the hardest task of all and you will need to spend some time thinking about the skills and attributes needed for the project. Note the above; not simply financial skill but skills that include budgeting
- identifying who has what skills. If you have no one with the relevant skills what do you do?
Developing the skills of your project team
The project manager will need to put a development plan together for those on the project team. Now please bear in mind viewing a video, reading a chapter of a book or coaching by the project manager could be all that is needed rather than a full blown 10 day programme somewhere. Take advice from HR or a training professional in putting your plan together and of course, build it into the overall project schedule and budget.
Maybe you need to buy in a skill as it is too specialised for your business however this could well impact on the overall budget of the project and the risk profile you identify.
So how about your projects? Do you really analyse the skills you require and identify the possible shortfall? If you do not do this then what are the consequences for the project and the company strategy? What risks are being exposed to without having the right skills on your project?
Finally, how much influence can the project sponsor bring to ensure real development takes place?
Tough questions but ones you should be trying to answer.