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

Creating a Project Charter

Once a project proposal or business case has been accepted, it’s a good idea to gather team members and stakeholders to develop a project charter together. The charter represents an agreement among interested parties regarding the nature of the work to be done, the commitment of resources, the timeline, and expectations (and in general, all parties contributing resources to the project should be included in both approval of and changes to the charter). Some information to consider including in this document follows.

Objectives & Deliverables

What is the purpose of the project? In other words, what is the problem to be solved or need to be addressed, and how will you do it? What product, service, or process will result? Explain, in terms comprehensible to a lay audience, the significance of your project and what it contributes to your field, institution, or community.

Preliminary Scope Statement

Consider not only what objectives and deliverables are within the scope of your project, but also consider what is not. Beware scope creep!

Assumptions & Constraints

Some project work requires enabling conditions be in place (for example, that funding is granted or that a particular software application be institutionally available and supported). List them to ensure that these criteria can be met. In addition, it may be helpful to include any limitations that may prevent completion of the project.

Project Team & Stakeholders

Stakeholders, in addition to project team members, will frequently be invested in the success of the project. List all team members and stakeholders, taking care to detail their roles and responsibilities.

Funding & Budget Information

Document all funding and resources, as well as anticipated expenditures, including equipment, technologies, programs, web hosting, data storage, expertise, and personnel wages.

  • Remember to consider not only immediate cost of completing your project, but also ongoing or recurring costs, such as the cost of maintaining or preserving the final product.
  • Don’t forget to consider funding and resources external to the ECDS!


Build out a detailed timeline, including milestones and deadlines. Note any potential bottlenecks or dependencies. In other words, attend the to relationships among individual parts of the project to avoid unnecessary delays.

  • Remember that few, if any, team members will be committing 100% of their time to this project. Take into account team members’ other time commitments.

Other Considerations

A few other items might be worth writing into a project charter:

  • publishing rights and credit
  • citations/attributions of the final product
  • communication practices
  • grievance or conflict management procedures
  • documentation protocols
  • preservation and stewardship


Because the charter is an agreement among all parties, each individual or group contributing resources should sign it and retain an up-to-date copy for the duration of the project.


From: Charters, Agreements, and Handshake Deals