Topic: Heat-mapping Skill Sets – Creating high-performance teams for investment management projects. Jane Stabile, President of IMP Consulting, is interviewed about the importance of putting together the right team before embarking on any investment management projects. This content was previously published as a podcast. You can listen to the original interview here.
When it comes to OMS and Compliance systems upgrades, do firms typically have all of the right resources within their walls?
JS: Typically, no, because firms don’t do that every year. It’s something that they do every few years, so it’s unusual for them to have all the right staff on board at that time.
When these projects take off, how many of them involve initial analysis of the assigned team members, current skillsets as well as their ability and readiness to actually work on the project right now?
JS: It’s something that firms typically don’t do. Often times, they don’t know when they are going to get the budget. It can be somewhat fluid. The piece missing most is a dispassionate look at what they really need for the project. What often happens is that the firm will look around and see who is available and then just put those people on the project because they are available, rather than saying, “what does this project need,” and evaluating the people that they have on the team.
What is impact of ineffective project teams? Are many or most projects delayed due to ineffective staffing?
JS: That happens a lot. Often times the team itself doesn’t realize the kind of gaps they have on the team until they are partway into the project. For example, you may need equity, fixed income and derivatives experience, and yet, you have 6 people on the team where 5 out of 6 have equity, one person has fixed income and no one has derivatives. And that’s not unusual.
Why aren’t the right people sourced for the team from the start?
JS: Partly it’s due to availability. Often times, if you have someone who is an expert in multiple fields, they’re are overbooked already. So you might have them on the team, you might have them on the roster, but they never actually make it to a meeting. We call that “the empty desk,” because it’s someone that should be on the team, and is never there because they are overbooked.
How does IMP quantify a client’s resources, availability and their potential impact on a projects?
JS: We first look at the project itself, and take a look at what exactly does the project need in terms of industry experience, and in terms of functional experience and knowledge. If it’s something where you really have to understand how a specific security processes in the back office, we need to make sure that skillset is on the project team. We take a look at that, and we map out the project itself. By shapes and color coding, we figure out exactly what the project looks like. We then take a look the team members, we do the same thing for the team members, and then we map those skillsets. Literally by colors and shapes, we create a map and we overlay a map of the skills for the people to the skills for the project. It’s a heat map of the actual individuals compared to a heat map of the project itself so that you can clearly see where the gaps are.
Is this process configurable so that it can be leveraged to provide insight on projects other than OMS and compliance system projects?
JS: Yes, and often times, the best way to put together the map is to talk to the people who are planning the project and have them talk to you about what exactly it is that they need. If they have any direct experience with the project that they are trying to launch - what happened last time? Who were the top performers last time? Who were the subject matters experts that they had to go to and what kind of information were they looking for?
If they have done something similar in the past, when did it stall out and why did stall out? What were the big gaps that they found in trying to get that project over the line? All of those answers can inform that heat map.
Finally, you do much better if you customize the heat map to that specific project because people use different nomenclature at different firms, and you want to make sure that the heat map is relevant to that firm and not just generic heat map. It needs to be both specific to that firm and specific to that project.