Project Management Challenge #6: Skill Mismatch & Lean Staffing

by Erin McCune on March 26, 2007

in Project Management

Skill Mismatch & Lean Staffing


It is tempting to tap resources that are available, regardless of individual skills and experience. Yet the wrong choice of team members can seriously hamper process improvement efforts.

Managers often choose lower cost resources in order to stay within budget. But less skilled and experienced team members may take longer to get the job done and ultimately go over budget.

Budget constraints also lead to too few resources for the amount of effort required. Typically short-staffed teams burn out in the face of unrealistic deadlines.

There are many very intelligent and talented technical people. Technology skills are not the same as management skills.


Short term help – consultants from outside or resources borrowed from other parts of the company – can help fill resource gaps. When hiring outside experts with specific skills, invest in some extra time dedicated to training internal resources thus guaranteeing knowledge transfer.
Phased development will enable using a smaller number of resources to tackle a sequence of project phases rather than attempting all of the development work at once.

Clearly communicate what is expected of team members so that each person focuses their effort on the most value-added tasks.

Does the project manager have sufficient time allocated to give the project the care and attention it needs to be successful? If not, arrange backfill for the project lead to alleviate other job responsibilities for the duration of the project.

Planning, oversight, organization, and communication skills are as important, if not more important, than technological expertise. If it is impossible to obtain both skill sets in one person, foster an effective partnership between the project manager and key technical talent.

Pm_series_icon_2This is one of a series of posts on project management for finance professionals. The series features practical project management advice and tips for driving process change using technology. The series is archived here.

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