Saturday 5 October 2019

Defining roles and responsibilities in project management

Whenever I teach project management classes for team members, they always say, “Please tell project managers to clearly assign roles and responsibilities on the project!” Most project managers are surprised, believing that they already do this. Obviously there is a problem. Something is missing! Let’s explore what contributes to clearly assigned roles so that you can evaluate your project and make sure you do not fall into this trap.

Clearly assigning roles and responsibilities

Begins with knowing what needs to be done. Therefore the project charter and the WBS are key elements. Do you have a charter and a WBS? Do you know that a WBS is created with the team, using Notes and may take a form that looks something like the picture at right.

Once all the work needed to accomplish the project is completed for each work package, it is easy to enter the work packages (the lowest level of the WBS or some other strategy) into a Gantt chart. But why not also include the name of the person assigned to each work package? Yes, one person must be made responsible for each work package even if a group is doing it.

Once everyone knows who is doing what, we are still missing something important. If we ask a team member to complete a work package that is only defined as a two word description from the WBS, we will be in trouble. Why? Because all people tend to add work or functionality (gold plate) to work packages instead of providing only what is required. The use of a WBS Dictionary will help keep everyone on track.

It is created by the team member for each of their work packages and reviewed by the project manager. It describes the work package efforts, in advance, so the team member and the project manager can make sure that the level of effort, quality, time and cost are appropriate for the priority, complexity and charter of the project. A WBS Dictionary can be thought of as a charter for each work package. Lastly, let’s use common sense and check with our team members before the project management plan is finalized and also throughout the project by asking, “How clear are the roles and responsibilities on this project? What still needs to be clarified?” The team can always tell you more than you expect.

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