Let's face it...there are periodically going to be those unfortunate instances when you absolutely must bring on one or more new resources in mid-project. It may be to replace an outgoing resource. It may be to get the team caught up to meet an important deadline or deliverable date. It may be to help fix a current issue that is stalling the project. Or it may be just to cover some new work that has been identified on the project including the need for a previously unnecessary area of expertise. For whatever reason, this need to bring on one or more new resources in mid-project happens. And we say “unfortunately” because bringing on new resources in mid-project causes a longer learning curve and adds considerable expenses to the project – especially if the new resource's efforts are not covered by a change order.
When on-loading project resources in mid-project for various reasons, the project manager must still consider what to do with that resource long term. It's not always an option to take on a resource and then just offload them quickly when the need is over. Resources and their department managers – if you're working in a matrix-type organization – still have resource utilization targets to worry about. So that is yet another angle the project manager must consider when bringing on new resources to the project in mid-stream beyond just learning curve, cost and customer satisfaction. Overall...is it necessary and is it worth it? The best consideration is to determine what the new resource can and will bring to the table and in what ways may they be utilized.
- The skills you need. Does the resource possess the right skills for the task? You want to make sure that the resource gatekeeper – whoever that may be in the organization – gave you someone useful for the tasks or issues at hand and not just “what's available” at the moment. Every project manager had that happen...and it can lead to unnecessary costs, time wasted, and grave customer concerns over the competency of the delivery organization.
- More than is necessary. Is the resource overkill for what you need? You don't want to go that route either as you may be bringing on a more expensive resource than is necessary. No need to bring on a shotgun when you just need a BB gun to scare away the issue. You may increase your burn rate on the remaining financial resources on the project causing serious budgetary concerns.
- A stretch that will not comfort the customer. Will this person look like the right fight to the project client? This is a bit of an overlap of the first two considerations, but let’s looks at it entirely from the customer's viewpoint. When they are introduced to this person and begin to interact with the resource, will they still think you are managing the project and the issue at hand well or will they have delivery concerns?
- Abrasive personalities. Finally, will the new project resource be a good team fit? Sometimes you get what you get. And sometimes you can't be too picky...you need the coverage now and you may just have to roll up your project management sleeves and make the round peg fit into the square hole. But if you have the opportunity to make the call, make a resource acceptance decision in the best interest of your project team and client. An abrasive resource may make matters worse. Be careful.
What are you looking for? That's sort of the bottom line here. Are you looking for the best tech skills? Are you looking for just one skill? Are you looking for a leader? A follower? Obviously a good personality fit is a nice consideration as well. Different skill sets and different availabilities will probably cost the project different amounts of money and will probably require less or more project management time from you. It's not just about acquiring a warm body to fill a team spot.