Authority and Responsibility, How They’re Related and How They Affect Project Management

Vet project managers know that they accept responsibility for the project when they accept the role of project manager. They also know that the absence of authority can critically impede their ability to deliver the goals and objectives set for the project. Responsibility is immediately proportional to consequences. Responsibility for project results does not mean that they get located on the table until the next job if the one they’re leading fails, it has a monetary consequence. They will will suffer with the project through elimination or reduction of bonus, a re-assignment to a less responsible role (with an attendant reduction in salary), or dismissal in the case of consultants. The connection between responsibility and consequences is entrenched in business. Larger more expensive assignments will tend to indulge more senior project professionals and the consequence of failure will be proportionate. The connection between task results and consequences will also be heightened. Agilt

What is short of my experience (20 plus years as a programme and job manager) is a messages between authority and responsibility. Project managers can do much of the task planning without having gain access to authority. Project operators will need some help from subject matter experts for some of the planning work, even if it’s just to confirm effort or cost quotes. Larger, more complex tasks generally have more need of material experts to the point that some of the work is planned by these experts. The authority needed to acquire and manage the resources needed for this work will usually come with the territory. It can when the project extends to the build or rendering phase that the job manager needs authority. They will can plan the effort, plan the work, and keep an eye on performance but without power they have a very limited ability to guarantee the work is done on time current necessary quality.

The largest, most expensive, most complex projects are added by project managers who hold senior positions in their organizations and bring that level of expert to their projects. The Manhattan project, which provided the Atomic bomb during Ww ii, is a good example of this type of project and project manager. Leslie Orchards, who managed the job, was a 3 superstar (lieutenant) General. The majority of tasks which don’t get into the Manhattan project category in conditions of size are where the connection between authority and responsibility comes apart.

Most projects nowadays are executed in a “matrix” environment where the organization uses project professionals to operate projects and efficient managers to manage people. The matrix environment is a good fit for some organizations because they have a mixture of operational and job work. The problem with the matrix environment is that seldom do they come with a system for the division of authority between the efficient and project manager which means that the task manager has none of the authority and the functional manager has it all from the resource’s perspective. Organizations with an increase of experienced matrix environments may have taken some steps to resolve the issues that this division causes, but rarely do the meanings of the 2 jobs will include a precise description of authority. This is probably also due to the fact that the HUMAN RESOURCES group plays a major role in defining authority through their policies plus they have a tendency to be behind the curve in accommodating their policies to the management of projects.

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