Got a question this week about projects. This question I have been hearing, regardless of activity, for almost 30 years, … Not that I’m starting to put years under my belt, but still. 😉
The question is: Who writes what you want to be done in a project?
The person responsible for the execution of a project is called a project manager. I think we all agree on that. Good.
The person who gives the assignment to the project manager may be called the client, project owner or sponsor. It is then that role that also needs to be clear in WHAT it wants the project to achieve, as well as to what COST the project should stick to, and further to WHEN it wants the project to deliver the result.
But this is where it gets so very difficult, obviously.
I don’t understand why it should be a problem, which is also pushed down the hierarchy. Down on the project manager. It must be the project owner (as I choose to call the role) who must define the project’s purpose and place the order.
The order, which is often referred to as the project directive, must be written by the project owner. It is he who has the will to get something out of the project. The assignment goes to the project manager.
It would be very strange if the project manager were to order the job from himself!? But that’s often what happens.
I have several times encountered chaotic projects where the project manager is the one who has written his own order and then is also the one who has to raise funds for the project.
The project manager is the person who has stood in front of the municipal or company board and explained why funds need to be allocated to implement the project. It just gets wrong and there is a confusion of roles.
The project owner is responsible for ensuring that the financial means are available to carry out the project. How this has happened, it matters less. This may be through their own budget or by having to raise funds for the particular project.
Then they write an order – the project brief – to explain clearly what they want. This is then handed over to the project manager, who will draw up a plan and get back to the project owner to approve the plan to implement the project. The project owner then makes the decision if he/she thinks it is a good plan that seems to lead to the delivery of what the project owner wants out of the project.
Like a chairman and a CEO, which are two different roles, a project owner and a project manager are two different roles. This does not mean that we should not cooperate with each other, because of course we should. After all, both want the best for the business, by successfully delivering the benefits that the project is set to do.
But cooperation does not mean that one role should take over the responsibilities of the other.
Read; Project Owner Tasks.
No, the project owner must play its role as it should be played. Don’t slip away and put the responsibility on the project manager. If you don’t have the time to be the project owner, then you should hand it over to someone who has the time to get to grips with the future of the project, and then ongoing progress.
If you take on the role of chairman of a company, then you also have to devote the necessary time. The same is true for the project owner.
And to be fair, I also know that there are many who are assigned to be project owners, who have not been given the conditions. They have not been properly educated about what it actually means. And then you haven’t had the opportunities to take on the mission when you’re involved in a lot of other things at the same time.
And last but not least, you don’t have the powers to do a good job. But I’ll come back to that some other time.
What does it look like in your organisation? Does it work with the role of project owner or is it the project manager who also performs these tasks? I wonder.