The Project Team

Project Management is all about adding value. A project is created to deliver a specific result, which should be aligned with the strategic objective of an organization. To complete the project, resources are identified, and a project team is created. The project team can be of various sizes. It can be a very small team, or a very large team as an epic multi-year project would require.

What is the right size for a project team? It depends. There is no one unique answer. It must be aligned with the size, context and complexity of each project. The One size fits all approach doesn’t work well in project management.

Who will be part of the project team? If will depend on the profile of the project. Of course, each project should have a project sponsor and a project manager. However, most often, the project manager will not be able to complete all tasks on his own. A project team will be needed to complete all tasks required on the project. This is the core reason to have a project team: to have the capacity required to complete the work.

The workload

The project team includes all persons assigned to the project. The project team will have to do many different tasks. Some of them are related to the management of the project while other tasks cover the executive of the project task. The project manager is the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives. Based on large projects, the project team can be divided between project staff and project management staff:

  • The project staff: the members of the team who carry out the work of creating the project deliverables.
  • Project management staff: the members of the team who perform project management activities.

Project management activities can include scheduling, budgeting, reporting and control, communications, risk management and administrative support. These activities are necessary to optimize the efficient and effective delivery of the project. However, they should not be make-work activities. It is essential that they add value by optimizing the successful completion of the project.

Optimizing the management overhead

Just like organization reviewed their management structure in the past decades, to reduce the management overhead cost, project management must do the same. As a matter of fact, projects are often used to optimize business processes.

It is true that for large projects, the project manager will have to focus significantly on management activities. If the project is very large, then the project manager will also need to be supported by a project management team.

In all cases, it is important that the management activities of the project remain lean and add value to the client of the project. A project is never created to occupy the time of project managers.

Some description of what a project manager should do imply that he is above the project team, and not responsible for completing any task. That view would not optimize the workload.

Be part of the project team

The project manager should always remember that he is part of the project team. He is not just assigned to the project to delegate, give directions from above and then to observe the project team. He is not just there to be the middle person between the client and staff doing the work for the project, receiving instructions and completing reports.

This approach would reduce the role of the project manager to one of being a mailbox. In a world of limited resources, this role adds very limited value to a project. It is likely to be questioned by the client as expensive overhead and questioned by the project team as an expensive layer of management.

For sure, delegation is required when the work to be done is too much for one person. And this is likely the case for most projects. However, delegation is not abdication. Delegation is about optimization of the workload. Delegation is about finding a way to perform the most as a team. When deciding who should do what, the project manager is part of the project team. Just like all team members, he must contribute to the success of the project.

There is a need for strategic thinking, decision-making, coordination and integration of activities, managing issues and risks, managing relationships, and managing communication. If done correctly, project team members will appreciate the support from the project managers and stakeholders will see the value provided by the project managers. If not done correctly, the project manager can quickly be seen as just an overhead cost on the project.

Be a leader

It is up to the project manager to optimize the value-added part of their role. In all cases, it is important that he views his role as being part of the project team. It will enhance the credibility of his leadership, both for the project team and for the project stakeholders.

And when necessary, get your hands dirty doing some project work!


Discover my book: Leadership toolbox for Project Managers

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