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Role Clarity – Project Manager Responsibilities
By James Clements

Poor role clarity is an issue many projects suffer and it directly affects the motivation and performance of project team members and particularly when it relates to project manager responsibilities.

Role clarity, or lack of it, is especially relevant in joint venture projects, integrated project teams and is most common in newly formed project teams. Lack of role clarity is where project team members are unsure of their day to day roles and responsibilities, the objectives of the project, their level of authority for spending or directing others and the formal reporting structures.

This results in confusion, overlapping effort by project team members and worse still gaps in responsibilities so work does not get completed where “I thought she was responsible for that” often occurs.

Worse still, poor role clarity can result in the errosion of project team members desire to be part of the team and exert above and beyond effort that is required in most projects.

So what do you do to improve role clarity in project environments;

  • Ensure the primary and secondary project objectives are defined and communicated verbally and in the project management plan. If the project doesn’t know where it is going overall, the team will have no chance with their individual efforts.
  • Develop Quality Objectives, these should be the next level of detail down from the project objectives whereby specific detail of requirements and achievement measures are defined and which are specific to individual areas and groups within the project.

  • A Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) is developed based on the project WBS, allocating responsibility for scope along with budget and schedule to individual managers and teams and they have the actual authority to manage these elements in all respects.

  • Project team members roles and responsibilities are defined in the project management plan.

  • Each project team member is aware of how his or her individual performance will be measured on the project and how their performance in the project relates to their annual functional department performance appraisal. Project based organizations are notorious for ‘losing’ people’s career management as they move between projects throughout the year.

  • Personal performance objectives should be linked to the achievement of Project and Quality Objectives and achievement of allocated scope of work in the RAM in order to drive the ultimate goal of delivering the project.

A word of warning, developing objectives, performance measures and especially project management responsibilities are prime candidates for the dreaded “Motherhood Statement”, my pet hate.

James Clements, MBA, MPD has been managing, directing, winning projects and developing project management processes in diverse industries around the world for the past 20 years. You can contact James via his website here and you can read more from him on his blog.

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