Characteristics of Roles

For every activity defined in the project, a set of roles requiring specific skill sets (or combinations) may be defined. For every role, the project manager must define three job aspects:

• Responsibility—The obligation to perform an assigned activity with or without detailed guidance or specific authority. ® Authority—The right to perform, command, or make decisions.

® Accountability—Assuming a liability for an activity or something of value in a project.

We know what happens when we assign responsibility to people who have no recognized authority within the organization to get it done. Estimates for completion become unreliable because the assigned person has an obligation to perform, but no right to perform, in the eyes of others in the organization; getting cooperation and assistance becomes difficult, if not impossible. Be sure that everyone recognizes the authority and responsibility boundaries for every role in the project.

Often overlooked when defining roles is the accountability aspect. The project manager should define a method for measuring the accomplishments for every role. This minimizes the problems of performance appraisals for project work later.

For instance, consider a test engineer. Responsibilities might include:

• Collaborating with architects and designers; ® Designing the test case;

® Generating test data;

• Running unit and regression test suites; ® Reporting results.

Authority might be granted within the project organization to include:

• Participating in design and inspection meetings;

® Exercising final authority for all test-related activities; ® Authorizing component builds;

• Reporting official test results and product quality metrics.

Accountability for the test engineers may be defined as quantifiable and easily measured parameters such as:

® Number of design and inspection meetings attended;

• Quantity and quality of tests prepared and executed;

® Percentage of successful component builds using components passing a quality gate;

® Accuracy and timeliness of reported test results and product quality metrics.

Definitions for each role may not be documented if the project team is small and well integrated, if the organization is so small that role boundaries are almost nonexistent and everyone does everything whenever it needs doing (common in many startup software development companies), or if the maturity level of the project organization is low. However, in large internal organizations running multiple projects, a standard set of role definitions can and should be developed. The organization's human resource professionals can often help in creating these standard definitions.

Another dimension to every role assignment is reliability, which is extremely important to the project manager. This, however, is assumed for most individuals taking project role assignments and is not usually documented as part of the role. It may be reflected in past performance appraisals or information from other project managers and leaders. Reliability refers to moral qualities as well as judgment, knowledge, skill, and habit. It implies that one is willing to put one's best effort into accomplishing the assigned activity. Implied or not, the project manager wants to be sure that everyone taking on project responsibilities can be relied upon to carry them out.

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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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