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Great news the project is over! Now let’s dismantle the team

Image by pgcCongratulations, you have finally delivered the project! The team you have carefully assembled over many months can now be dismantled and people can go back to their normal job. That’s the natural sequence in the project management world – project is kicked-off, team is assembled, team develops solution, team encounters delays, team tests solution, team moves solution into production, team hands-off solution to maintenance team, project team is dismantled, and life goes back to normal.

I wonder if the Green Bay Packers will do the same now that they have won SuperBowl XLV or maybe the San Fransisco Giants may want to start their 2011 season with new players after winning the 2010 World Series. At least the F.C. Internazionale Milano should want to give it a fresh start after winning the Serie A championship, wouldn’t you think?

Nobody would consider breaking up a highly performing sport team but when it comes to software development, it is common for organizations and departments to split up team members and start new with their next project.

From a purely practical perspective, breaking up a performing team makes no sense considering the time invested in:

  • carefully selecting and recruiting the right people with the right skill sets and the right attitude,
  • hiring external consultants with specific skills to complement the existing team,
  • getting the team to work together despite the team members’ personalities, work methods and obvious looming conflicts,
  • training people on the organizational culture and business activities,
  • establishing a leadership style that will work well with the team’s expectations,
  • eliminating the bad hires,
  • building relationships with the team members and between the project team members themselves,
  • etc.

Team members need time to become highly performing. Why not keep those team members together after the completion of their project and assign them together to the next project – even if the skill sets doesn’t seem to be perfect at first glance?

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. We can go further with your metaphor: Inter Milan play serie A next year also, and play champions league in addition…for software, I think we should avoid splitting teams between maintenance (serie A) and projects (champions league), there is too many things in common, in the first place : users & Code.
    Typically you should prefer a team dedicated to one application for its maintenance and next projects. In fact, then the team is dedicated to users (and their needs as a whole, nevermind if it is bug or features) and ensure code coherence through collective ownership.
    It has some other benefits. Your project team is more willing to produce better quality, since they will maintain it and build other projects upon it. Also, they will be encouraged to reduce bugs to allow production of more features. We can also take in account motivation, it is more interesting to do projects than maintenance.


    February 16, 2011
    • Thank you for your comment Clément. You bring an interesting perspective on this theme. I really like the way you postion the main focus = users and code. Afterall, a software development project is a human and collaborative endeavour.

      February 16, 2011
  2. Christophe Goset #

    A dedicated team to only one application is not mandatory.
    However if the “Champion team” who has get confidence from the customer can keep his good work on this application, it would be precious to keep the customer on the application…
    The application is not dead after delivery, it has to live, even if modifications can be very light after.

    February 16, 2011
  3. Look also at this article explaining how the film company Pixar values team stability to enable continuous improvement through learning and engagement from all collaborators. The film industry traditional way of doing thing is more to hire base on contract and to disband after the film is done.

    Look for this quote from Mr. Randy S. Nelson, dean of Pixar University:

    “The problem with the Hollywood model is that it’s generally the day you wrap production that you realize you’ve finally figured out how to work together,” Mr. Nelson said. “We’ve made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We’re trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It’s no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it’s a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people.”


    March 24, 2011
  4. I forgot to provide the link to the article in my previous comment. Here it is for you to enjoy!

    How Pixar Adds a New School of Thought to Disney:

    March 24, 2011

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