Sizing the Team According to Project Complexity

PMI Santiago, Chile Chapter

Alexis Devenin, Mechanical Engineer, MBA, PMP is an Engineering Project Manager with 20 years of experience working in the steel, mining and renewable energy industries.

Each project has its own characteristics and complexity. Normally, organizations manage a set of similar projects with a fixed project team. This team is structured to manage the average project with good performance. Nevertheless, when the organization has to execute a project significantly bigger or complex, it’s necessary to check if the actual team size is adequate enough to successfully handle it.

If we draw a graph in which one axis represents project complexity and the other represents project team size, we can trace a line that represents the optimal relation between these two variables. This means that for any project complexity, there is a specific team size that matches perfectly to attain optimal performance:

In the example above, the project PA, with a complexity level CA, must be managed by a team of size TA. Here we have included three concepts without specific definition:

  1. project complexity
  2. team size
  3. optimal performance

Of course, there are multiple ways to define each of these three variables; but independent of the exact definition, it’s reasonable to assume that as the degree of complexity is increased, a bigger team is required to manage it successfully.

For simplicity, a linear relationship is considered. With an appropriate quantitative definition of the three variables and enough accurate data, this graphic could be…


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