Delegating Project Tasks

Team members must know which task or tasks have been assigned to them and they must know when those tasks are to be completed. If members are unaware of this or if the messages are or poorly communicated, the project tasks will end up late or even incorrectly developed. The role of the project manager is to ensure that all parties are comfortable with handling their respective tasks and do not appear confused.

This inability to communicate correctly on a project reminds me of a troubled project that I was told to take charge of. Upon calling the first set of review meetings, I noticed that only senior managers of the various internal departments attended the meetings, as junior members were not required to attend meetings. The meetings proved to be successful and I had felt that I had delegated the project tasks correctly and that these tasks would be carried out. However, as sometimes happens on Fridays, I noticed some of the project members were busy with non-project-related activities, and this concerned me. I had clearly stressed the aspect of working to make up the lost time on the schedule. My immediate discussions with the project developers led me to realize that they were unsure of their tasks to be performed. Three days after I had delegated the tasks, they were still waiting for a full briefing from their managers! I

couldn't believe it. Nonetheless, I changed the rules of all future meetings. I started to communicate with and delegate directly to everyone on a daily basis, and I obtained direct feedback in the meetings from each member involved. My meetings were broken up into two separate meetings:

• A high-level core meeting where the managers attended and tasks were delegated to them

• A technical meeting for the all members in order to communicate responsibilities and make sure that everyone knew what to do

Every project team member should agree that the schedule for his or her tasks is reasonable. Basically, each team member knows his or her role on the project and the extent of his or her authority and responsibility.

Project team members become thoroughly annoyed if they do not know what they are expected to do or when something should be finished. They are also annoyed when they are told to do something that they know they cannot do and are not given adequate opportunity to voice their opinion. The best advice for project managers is to avoid this justified annoyance. You won't regret it. Suffice it to say, communication is the key to a happy, well-run project. An important part of this communication is having a good working relationship with all the team members on the project.

THE DEVELOPMENT BEGINS

At this stage of the project, the design and development team have provided the most input regarding how long it would take to develop the system and the resources that will be required. A project manager's job is to ensure that the project follows the development time estimates that were provided during the planning phase. It is important that the development team is confident about the activities and deliverables they are expected to meet. A developer may be confident because he or she gave the estimate. On the other hand, a developer may trust the estimation that was given by the technical lead. Either way, a plan works best if individuals commit to performing each task in the timeframe planned. Because project managers have the responsibility of bringing the project to completion in the time specified by the project plan, it is important that they have some degree of confidence in each item of the plan as well. If they are not confident of the individual activities and duration, there is a good chance that poor planning was performed and that the project was not approached correctly.

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