What is the Best Project Team Size to Get Optimal Performance?

What is the Best Project Team Size

People of Debate the Best Project Team Size
What is the best project team size to get optimal performance? Some research and a lot of hands-on experience suggests that sometimes smaller is better and that Mini-Projects can be an invaluable approach to accelerate project performance.

Ten or Less is Better
By smaller, we mean projects teams of ten or less.

Mini Projects Provide Speed and Insight
Project post mortems should be an integral part of any project – regardless of size. The project review process always provides valuable information. Usually you learn what you could have done better and you can apply the lessons learned on the next project.

Because of this, more companies are taking advantage of “mini-projects” to spur innovation, experimentation and speed.

What You Should Expect to Learn
What can you learn from a mini-project or a pilot test project? You could learn that it should be expanded or, equally valuable, that it should not be pursued at all. You could also learn how to improve or change team dynamics.

In fact, project experts will often advise that you try out an idea on a small scale to test its viability. This way you don’t risk too many resources. Perhaps you have a new product concept. How about trying it out in a small, well-defined market? Large companies do this all the time…or they should. Remember the New Coke debacle? If only they had experimented with the new formula on a smaller public, they would not have had such a major failure.

Set up your project as a fact-finding and innovative experiment…then deal objectively with what you learn post mortem.  What is the best project team size for you and your specific objectives?  Here are some pros and cons regarding project team size to consider:

Pros of Small Project Team Size

  • It is easier to build collaborative relationships.
  • The project leader can make connections personally to each individual in order to articulate goals and gain agreement and commitment.
  • With team members handling multiple responsibilities, they have a lot more freedom to manage their wide-ranging roles.
  • Regular check-ins and small meetings are handled quickly and efficiently.
  • It is easier to shape a culture that suits the team. Engaged team members are excited about their work and committed to project goals.
  • Communication, transparency and accountability should be easier.

Cons of Small Project Team Size

  • Team members have to wear several hats at once.
  • Diverse opinions and insights may be limited.
  • Team members may not have all of the required skills.
  • Team members may not be working exclusively on what they do best.

The Bottom Line on Project Team Size
Perhaps the greatest “plus” is flexibility. With a small group, you can adjust course as needed with little delay or upset. If you have selected the team members for their expertise, their compatibility, their work ethic and their practice of communicating openly, you will have a team that works well together. Your job becomes quite simple: keep them on track and be available and understanding of their needs.

To learn more about optimizing project performance, please download Top 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader

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