Project roles – let’s make them clear, for you, the client and the company!

“We do not have that structure here” he said.

I asked, “How useful would it be to have that structure?”

“Very, it would help me clarify my role and other people’s roles in projects. I’m not the only one who does not know what role I am playing”

Yes, he spoke for many people! We were speaking about project roles and this person needed some structure to some of his projects. He was not clear what role he played in some of his projects despite seeking clarification.

I have long since argued for clear roles in projects. We have seen too many projects stumble along because people are not clear about their role. We normally suggest 3 key roles;

PROJECT SPONSOR: this is someone senior who briefs the project manager and liaises with the customer to ensure quality standards are adhered to. They do not directly manage the project but manage it through others.

PROJECT MANAGER: this person manages the project ensuring it is delivered on time and to budget with the right results. They sometimes manage a team

PROJECT TEAM: these are the team members who support the project manager in delivering the project

Now your project roles may be different. They may be called something else, they may have more accountabilities. What I am concerned about is to establish is that all projects have clear project roles.

Lack of clarity over roles has led to confusion, led to activities not being delivered; risks going undetected poor planning …the list is extensive.

During our project management training courses I often ask how people who have moved jobs what it is like taking on the new role. At least 50% of the group say they have been in this situation and they say it is:

• like treading treacle – not quite knowing which direction to go in
• de-motivating
• poorly managed

Imagine if you create a project team from marketing, sales, accounts and HR. They have never worked together so how do they find out what role they should be playing? How do they find out what roles other people play? Unless there is clarity expressed at the start of the project confusion will reign.

Do look at sorting this issue out at or near the start of the project. To omit doing this will only result in problems further down the line.

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