If you’re pursuing digital transformation, you’re probably not enjoying the process of obtaining budget approval. Executives have a litany of questions, some of which you aren’t prepared to answer. While you can’t anticipate all of their questions, we will help you answer one of executives’ most common questions: “Who needs to be on the project team, and how much time will they need to dedicate to the project?”
Providing a detailed answer will require an understanding of project roles and responsibilities. You’ll have to step into the shoes of a project manager to learn what it takes to build a winning project team.
Project Team Structure
Depending on the size of the organization, project teams can range anywhere from 15 members to just a few. Successful project managers clearly define roles and responsibilities at the beginning of the project to ensure accountability and representation from key business functions.
They develop a project charter to assign responsibilities to both internal and external resources for each phase of the project. The charter defines exactly how decisions are made, issues are resolved and activities are completed. Project team members are assigned responsibilities in accordance with their strengths, experience level and bandwidth.
Project managers don’t delegate all responsibilities to the project team. For example, final sign-off on future state business processes and decisions about the organization’s operational model should be driven by the executive steering committee instead of the project team.
In a perfect world, the project team would be fully dedicated to the project, but that’s not feasible for most organizations. Nonetheless, the executive steering committee helps the project team prioritize work so the project is top priority. Some organizations hire external resources to ensure project team members don’t completely neglect their day-to-day jobs.
Project managers walk a fine line between the use of internal resources and external resources. A lack of external resources can mean limited expertise. On the other hand, a lack of internal resources can mean poor project ownership and a lack of organizational alignment.
Ideal Project Team Members
Project managers must identify skill sets and personality traits that contribute to digital transformation success. They work with the executive steering committee to select project team members in accordance with project scope, budget and resource requirements. The steering committee has a good understanding of project goals and organizational vision, so their input is valuable when choosing project team members.
Some organizations build their project team based on who they believe to be the smartest or most technically-skilled. While technical expertise and operational knowledge are important, communication skills are also valuable, especially when the project team is tasked with executing an organizational change management plan to engage and train employees.
Professors Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats published a study, Functional Roles of Group Members, in which they identified key personality traits that contribute to strong teams. Here are five of those personality traits:
- The Cheerleader encourages other project team members to participate and recognizes them for their contributions. This role is useful for encouraging engagement on both the project team and throughout the organization.
- The Peacemaker helps project team members reach a consensus when compromise is necessary. Peacemakers focus on the success of the organization as a whole. This role is useful when defining and prioritizing business processes.
- The Sergeant-at-Arms ensures the project team meets deadlines and expectations while adhering to the organization’s core values. This role can help develop strong project controls and governance and gently remind team members of these guidelines.
- The Good-Humor Man relieves the tension and anxiety of digital transformation. The right amount of jest can lighten the mood and reenergize team members.
- The Contrarian is a critical thinker and innovator who is not afraid to share his/her opinion. This role can challenge project team members to think about the project from a people and process perspective instead of a technical perspective. The contrarian can also ensure that the project team preserves the organization’s competitive advantage during business process management.
Other Internal Resources
Digital transformation requires more than just a project team. Project managers also assemble an executive steering committee and a team of subject matter experts:
- Executive Steering Committee – This group includes executives and members of the board of directors. The steering committee communicates the importance of the project and explains how it supports the organization’s mission and vision. They participate in milestone meetings regarding software recommendations, organizational alignment and organizational change management.
- Subject Matter Experts – These are project advocates. Much like the core project team, this group includes representatives from each functional area. Subject matter experts participate in requirements gathering, requirements validation and vendor demonstrations.
Your Project Team
Now that you’ve put yourself in the shoes of a project manager, you can more easily estimate the resource requirements of your own digital transformation. How many and what type of resources will you need? Will you need to backfill resources or hire external team members?
Your project team structure mostly depends on the scope of your project. Some organizations take a bottom-up approach where they begin with technology selection, while others take a top-down approach where they begin with strategy alignment.
You can learn more about the top-down approach to transformation by watching our on-demand webinar, Pre-implementation Readiness: How to Prepare for ERP Selection.