I'm totally convinced that any project is mainly about people involved. A low performing team will ruin your efforts to achieve your project objectives. It's therefore crucial to pay a special attention to team staffing.
But, selecting the right candidate is not always an easy task, time-consuming, and often delegated to HR department or to a dedicated resources manager, who source both internal and external profile against the proivded job description. And the most important thing is, as a project manager, you'll be accountable for team performance no matter who you entrusted the staffing.
Start with a good job description...
In order to favor the odds, you have to ease the job of your Resources Manager (RM) / HR department as much as possible by providing them with a good job description. A good job description consists of 3 mandatory items:
- List of expected skills
- Expected level of seniority
- Previous experiences expected
List of expected skills
The list shall contain all required skills for the right candidate. However, as you're RM/HR customer, you may tend to behave just like a basic customer: not willing to accept trade-off until you're forced, looking for the gem of a candidate who'll possess all the skills you would dream about. Well, in real life, you'll have a hard time finding this very resource, so to get back to reality:
- Identify indeed all the skills you require for the job as your wish-list
- Classify these skills into 3 categories
- Mandatory / Must have
- Shall have
- Nice to have
- Formalize these 3 levels into the job description so that RM/HR will be able to better filter applications
Skills often take the form of keywords. If skills are categorized in the way described above, it's okay to have a long list of skills. The untrusted people will know your priorities.
Expected level of seniority
Are you looking for a junior / middle or senior profile ? Remember that team dynamics is very important when bringing in new members.
If you're bringing in a junior member into an already junior team, you'll optimize the ADR (Average Daily Rate) of your team, but will face the risk of having to increase the level of coaching, or facing delays / poor quality due to lack of close management and coaching.
On the contrary, bringing in a senior member into an already senior team may lead to conflicting egos, lack of compromise on the way to perform tasks and therefore impediments to smooth implementation of the project plan.
Previous experiences expected
Nothing is more worth than real field experience. If you're looking for a resource you're expecting to perform some tasks, you'll have to ensure that the candidate has already performed these tasks in a similar context. Otherwise, you increase the level of risk you're taking. Let's take an example: You're looking for a solution's architect to design a full IS overhaul, encompassing dozens of software packages from multiple vendors, and spread out several sub-IS because of external growth of your customer, leading the way on how future IS will look like. Will you take the risk of entrusting this activity to someone who has never done that before ?
However, the degree of similarity can vary, and is up to you. You can even categorize experiences just the way you categorized skills. And remember: the higher the seniority, the most similar experiences shall be to reduce risks.
... And follow-up these 5 main indicators
Now, you're done. You have crafted an outstanding job description for your favorite RM / HR manager. Resume start to pour down on you, adding a severe workload to your already overdue to-do list. You're accountable for setting up the right team, but only have limited time to deal with this activity. What can you do ?
The answer is quite simple: manage your RM / HR manager as a supplier.
This means that you expect from her/him a service of quality, which allow you to focus on interviewing the right candidates, and certainly not limited to forward any resume matching several of your keywords. As any other supplier, you can measure your RM/HR manager performance, and provide her/him with a regular feedback on indicators you use for monitoring her/his performances.
I chose to focus on 5 main indicators, and to report these indicators as part of project status reports, in order to highlight and anticipate any staffing issue, and act upon before the staffing need is overdue.
Resume Rejection rate
This indicator is the number of resume rejected after you screen it divided by the total number of resume sent to you by your RM / HR manager. This give a good idea of the accuracy of filtering. Filtering criteria are those mentioned in job description and can also be the availability of the candidate (too late / too early) or its daily rate.
Rejection rate after interviews
Once you've accepted the resume, you plan then conduct interviews with selected candidates. This leads to a certain amount of rejection, mainly because of lack of soft skills or exagerated expertise/experience in resume not in synch with actual candidate capabilities.
This indicator is the number of candidates rejected after interviews divided by the total number of resume accepted from RM/HR. This measurement does not directly reflect RM/HR department performance, but is a factual way of acting on them if too much CV are not reflecting actual candidates capabilities.
Average response time for a position opening
Each time you open a position on your project, you of course expect a quite quick feedback. But a too quick feedback could mean that filtering is very poor.
This indicator is the sum of the lead time between a job opening and the reception of resume divided by the number of resume received for the position. Monitor the evolution of this indicator along the project's life, and balance it with the quality of filtering given by the 2 previous indicators. This shall improve along the way.
You've conducted several interviews, shortlisted the right candidates, and you're ready for choosing the best deal... And your RM/HR manager informs you that all candidates have declined the offer / accepted another mission. You have to start the entire process all over again, exhausting your energy, and preventing you from performing other tasks....
This indicator is the number of candidates ready to accept the job divided by the number of candidates interviewed. If too low, this means that basic parameters such as availbility, interest in the job, acceptable daily rate have not been checked out correctly by your RM / HR department.
Average sourcing lead time
In order to better anticipate the accurate time for expressing your needs, you have to know how much time sourcing process takes. In order to refine your idea on such a topic, monitor the evolution of this indicator to check out:
- How much time in advance a staffing need has to be identified to be fulfilled in a timely manner
- If it improves over time
This indicator is the lead time between a job opening and the effective on-boarding of the candidate. A distinction could be done between permanent positions and contract positions in order to take into account potential notice period for leaving from a permanent position to another.
All these indicators will help you better manage your staffing.