Steps to a winning management team

Setting up teams for success by identifying and embedding the best mix of skills, capability and capacity.

The scale of construction programmes often means the management team can exceed 1,000 people from multiple companies, requiring diverse capabilities and a capacity far beyond what may exist within a client’s own organisation. We outline five steps to ensure the management team has the capability and capacity to manage major programmes.

1. Understand the total cost, capability and capacity required to deliver the programme

How much will the client’s team cost, what are the skills and experience required and how large should it be?

A benchmarking exercise will show what similar programmes allocated for their teams; for example, eight to 12 percent of capital expenditure and 800–1,000 staff. If a client had only planned for five percent and 500 people, then the client’s team will probably be severely under-resourced. Qualitative benchmarking will also need to be undertaken to analyse all the functions and capabilities likely to be required.

Risk factors influence where a new programme might sit in these benchmark ranges – a higher-risk profile should mean a larger client team and budget is needed.

After this validation, further analysis will explore the programme specifics and suggest the likely team structure and headcount. This allows a detailed, discipline-based view to be developed to inform the augmentation strategy, which will deliver the programme at scale.

2. Determine the core capability to be built and retained

With programme management teams often being a significant size, it is important that a client is clear about what functions to undertake in-house or what to outsource. Governance and the decision-making authority will be key factors in determining if functions and accountability can be outsourced. Similarly, certain functions may be considered core capability given their long-term importance to the business. An oil company, for example, might decide that it wants to build capability in process design and reservoir management and so will retain these functions in-house, but general skills in contract administration and document control are elements that can be outsourced.

3. Review the augmentation options

If a client’s team needs 1,000 people to deliver the programme of works, with 300 being retained in-house, how should the remaining 700 be sourced? From a single, multidiscipline organisation or using a best-of-breed approach using different companies to form an integrated team? A client must balance securing the right capabilities within the right commercial arrangements. These capabilities are not just skilled and competent resources, but include the ability to access intellectual property (such as cost and schedule benchmarking data), established processes, proven systems, knowledge and data. 

 4. Choose the right augmentation option

For programmes, getting the right resources into the team is essential and the client should retain full flexibility. Overall headcount is relatively small, cost risk is therefore low.

For horizontal augmentation, a more targeted price approach based upon the delivery of a clearly specified managed service is recommended. This approach provides not only resources, but associated processes, systems, knowledge, data and management arrangements.

For vertical augmentation, the scope can be sufficiently well defined for a lump sum of percentage fee approach to provide the best value for money.

5. Build the integrated team

Developing a high-performing team means creating common working methods, attitudes, behaviours, values and goals. The challenge is getting the team to think about working together and delivering the programme in the best way, not what’s best for their own company.

Meeting the challenges of delivering highly complex programmes will only be achieved by consciously setting up a management team for success at the outset. Only by identifying and embedding the best mix of skills, capability and capacity will clients deliver their programmes and demonstrate best value for money.

Project management