Project Authority

I met up with a project manager the other day who expressed that his key issue with managing projects for his clients was that he doesn’t have the authority required to have the team members do what he needs done on time, especially in regard to Information Technology (IT) projects.

I could definitely see his point of view.

I’m sure readers are wondering how this can happen in the first place.  I mean, everyone affected was involved in the planning of the project, right?  The sponsor and management of the company who the project is for agreed to provide the people, right?

In theory, the project team and sponsor know all the people resources required and when to successfully complete a project.

In practise and in my experience, problems emerge where the key people required to deliver on their task also have to do their day job.  In other words there is not enough people to implement the project and for “business as usual” (BAU).

There are of course some options to overcome this problem such as hiring more people temporarily to either do the BAU or project tasks.  Naturally this becomes complicated when specific skills and business knowledge are needed.  This will add cost and probably time to the project if this was not identified at the scoping and human resources stages of the project.

From what I’ve observed and experienced myself, and I’m sure I’m not alone, it is an underestimation of the resources required by those managing the project and also those who the project is for.  The latter is because it is often their team members that are required.

I think at the heart of this conundrum is at the planning stage, people do not like to say they can’t help with the project and do their day job, or their boss won’t take no for an answer.  Or the managers or sponsors of the project do not understand the impact of the project implementation on their organisation.

Once the project is underway of course the whole situation can be very difficult to turn round particularly if the project manager has no authority over the people required.  Even with the authority the person required may feel as though they are being pulled in multiple directions if their usual manager is not willing to let them help.  There is also the fear of what will happen once the project is completed.

Until there is a realistic acceptance of the effort required to complete a project and that the project manager must have authority and be able to use people according to plan then projects will over run on time and cost.

It will be interesting if any readers would like to respond with their experiences.

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