Building a Project Team

Projects are rarely undertaken alone, and the larger a project team becomes, the more carefully you should build the team and develop protocols for working together.

How do you know if you need to add team members?

If the team has reached its limits technically (lacks skills), infrastructurally (lacks resources), or intellectually (lacks expertise), or if the current team cannot meet the project’s objectives or provide deliverables on schedule, it might be time to add members.

Do note that the addition of team members may impact the timeline, scope, and/or cost of your project.

Building a Project Team

Below are some areas of expertise and roles that might need to be filled in a digital humanities project (though staffing needs will be project-specific). Be aware that a person may fill more than one role, but no one person should do everything. Building in some redundancy may also be helpful in coping with issues as they arise.

Areas of Expertise:

  1. Project Manager: organizes activities, sets meetings, watches deadlines, hires staff, generates reports, monitors risks and issues.
  2. Subject Researcher: asks the core academic question, provides subject expertise.
  3. Public Humanities Specialist: is attuned to and responds to the needs of the public.
  4. Computational Researcher: supports computer development, makes technical decisions, ensures digital best practices.
  5. Information Specialist: attends to data curation, preservation, and stewardship.

Project Roles:

  1. Project Director/Sponsor: Intellectual and Strategic Leadership
  2. Project Manager: Logistics, Planning, and Details
  3. Business Manager: Finance and Budgeting
  4. Assistant Project Director: Development and Outreach
  5. Graphic/Website Designer: Branding, Logos, Website
  6. Lead Programmer: Technical Vision and Day-to-Day Supervision
  7. Programmers: Hacking, Coding, Building
  8. Systems Administrator: Hardware & Software Configuration; Security/Access
  9. Educational Specialist: Curriculum Design & Training

Other Stakeholders and Interested Parties

Not everyone invested in a project will participate directly in its development. They may contribute funding (granting agencies), provide physical space (institutions or universities), contribute materials (libraries or archives) or generate publicity (professional contacts in the field). Consider keeping these interested parties involved in decision-making, commensurate with their resource contribution and level of investment in the project.

Managing Teams and Stakeholders

Prior to project initiation, identify clearly what each team member and stakeholder will be contributing to the project. Determine and document their pattern of continued engagement, including communication practices, to ensure efficient transfer of materials and timely project completion.


From: Building Your Project Team