Project Management Roles – Let’s Get Them Right

April 3, 2009 by  Filed under: Management 

I was watching a police ‘soap’ on TV recently and during the programme great play was made of organising the structure for the police enquiry. An investigating officer was appointed and a team established. While this was a TV programme it showed that the roles and responsibilities were clearly of importance, worthy of taking time to identify and develop.

This led me to think about project management roles which people say are often unclear. They tell me this lack of clarity leads to problems of decisions making, monitoring and control areas and obtaining the right resources at the right time among many other issues.

On project management training events I ask people to look at the role(s) they play in projects. It is interesting that a lot of people find this activity difficult. Why? Because the person doing the training has not had their role clarified i.e. are they project manager, or a team member or something else?

It is even more interesting for those who think project roles are clear. Some people have sat back and smiled saying all is well; until I ask a series of questions such as:

• Do the named individuals know that the role you have given them is theirs for the project?

• What do they actually do in the project compared to what they should be doing?

• Do they carry out the role (of say project manager) effectively?

• What authority do these people have within the project?

More often than not I have to suggest that people go back and start to ask some questions about roles and do this quickly. I also point out that if this part of the project management process is not done or done right then it does not bode well for the project. It can also mean you have duplication of role(s), something I have seen several times.

If you are not clear about your role in a project how likely is it that the project will be delivered on time and to budget with the right results? Spend time up front identifying the role you play, make life easier for those trying to deliver projects and if you are one of those who is faced with not knowing what your role is then I suggest you raise your head above the parapet and ask some tough questions, and keep on asking until roles are clear AND documented. If you are some senior who “gives out” projects then I suggest you obtain some clarity of the role quickly, otherwise the gaps will show up at sometime in the project.

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