Over the years, I’ve tried to follow the following four key steps when incorporating new project resources into a current, ongoing project engagement.
Getting them up to speed
I’ve realized that getting a new resource prepared while still in hanging in the background allows them to look more prepared when they finally need to sit in on a status call or be introduced to the customer. To aid with this, I always hand them the latest project schedule or give them access through the chosen project management software tool like WorkZone, the most recent project status report, a copy of the resource forecast and budget (if appropriate for their position and level of responsibility - definitely if it’s the business analyst), and – probably most importantly – the statement of work. The presentation deck that I put together for the formal project kickoff meeting at the beginning of the engagement also serves as a nice intro to the key dates, assumptions, and roles on the project.
Depending on the project and how soon this resource needs to be ‘productive’ on the project, now is also probably the best time to give your project customer a heads-up that the new resource will be joining soon and that they are currently going through the preparation process to be ready to jump onboard shortly.
Introduction to the team
I think it’s imperative to hold weekly team meetings for your own project team in advance of the weekly call or meeting with the project customer, so this is a great time to introduce the new resource to the team and give them some general information about what’s going on with the project. It’s also a great time to allow them to start coming together as a team with the new resource and to give them some information specifically about the project client (quarks, needs, frequent requests, pain points, etc.). It’s always interesting to see how everyone on the project sees the customer a little differently than the others so getting everyone’s input on this topic for the new project resource can be very helpful.
If you have the luxury of time and resource availability, I always think it’s best to have the new resource silently shadow the outgoing resource for at least one meeting and then be formally introduced and actually participate on a call with the outgoing resource still present for at least one meeting. I realize this isn’t possible if the exiting resource has been fired or jettisoned to a higher priority project out of urgent need, but if you can make this happen, it serves as a nice slow transition for the resource and for the project client.
Into the fire
Finally, it’s time to throw the resource into the fire and start re-assigning all relevant tasks to the new resource in your have them fully ready to carry their load in front of the project customer on status calls and on regular tasks. Ideally, they have ramp up time of 1-3 weeks to get to this point, but if that’s not the case – and you’ll likely know all this going into this transition – then you must of course plan accordingly and spend extra time behind the scenes with the new resource getting them ready to be productive almost immediately.
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