Project Manager s Role and Authority

One of the key causes for a project' s failure is the lack of authority that has been given to a project manager. The project manager, for example, might need to take a serious shortcut in the road. He goes to the sponsor of the project to get the OK, only to find the sponsor is in Bali for two weeks. Since the project sponsor has made it clear that no changes are authorized without his approval or heads will roll, the PM is stuck either delaying the project until he gets the OK or going forward with the project as planned. Giving project managers liberal freedom and authority to do what they feel is best for the project not only gets projects done faster, it also lends an esprit de corps to the entire team ' s operations. Team members don' t feel that they have to sneak around the PM to get something done.

Giving a project manager responsibility for the project, but not the authority, can result in a catastrophic project outcome. At best, the scope suffers from scope creep because the project manager lacks authority to prevent this; at worst, the project dies a cold death because the PM s hands are tied.

As an IT project manager, you need support from those who have authority over your project. Make friends with the sponsor (who is often also the client) and your management. They will have the authority to allocate resources, will make decisions and act on your behalf, or better yet, will give you the authority to act.

Sometimes you simply must take authority. You are the project manager; you are responsible to deliver the project as it was scoped. You were appointed PM because you have the skills and knowledge to get the job done. More than likely, you have a proven track record of other successes. If this is your first major project, you have proven your project management abilities through other, smaller successes. As project manager, you exercise control over the project plans and have the responsibility when the work is veering off course or things aren' t going as planned. Taking authority sometimes involves invoking the Rule of Forgiveness. You' ve doubtless heard this before: "It' s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission." But then again, a wise project manager needs to discern the circumstances when it ' s OK to invoke this rule versus when it would damage your career to do so.

The project manager' s role is all-encompassing. You should possess skills and abilities in all the following areas: communication, team management and motivation, writing skills to accurately document project plans and progress, planning and organization, negotiation, leadership and supervision, finance, goal-setting, and contract and procurement procedures. In the IT world, you also need to have a clue about how IT systems work and the pieces that make up a system.

Power and authority come from many sources: knowledge, skills, previous experience and accomplishments, communications abilities, and networking (who you know, not what you know). The amount, level, and source of the PM' s authority needs to be recorded in your scope document.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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