Who needs 3 wise men when you have 1 wise woman

20-December-smallI recently attended a course and heard the phase ‘as a PM that’s not your problem’ a number of times. This led me to question my understanding of the role of the PM. I don’t like the idea of being the person with slopey shoulders and passing on the ‘blame’. The idea of not being responsible or feeling like I have ownership for the output of a project doesn’t sit well with me.

Which lead me to question, what does accountability and responsibility mean to a digital project manager?

For me, the main difference between responsibility and accountability, is that responsibility can be shared while accountability can’t. Being accountable not only means being responsible but ultimately being answerable.

In the world of things digital, whether it be a Waterfall or Agile project, a Project Manager should feel accountable for everything on their project, even the client’s tasks. The key word here for me is feel because, we actually can’t be! We’re reliant on our team completing the tasks, although in reality it often feels we’re seen to be the person solely accountable for everything throughout the project, especially when things go wrong.

In my opinion the key role for The Project Manager is to take responsibility for ensuring the team do what they have committed to, with the team members being accountable for their individual tasks, and PM accountable for the overall delivery of the project. This does sound fairly simple, but in fact it can be difficult to engage people in understanding this way of thinking.

This is where clearly defining roles and responsibilities at the beginning of a project plays a key part in ensuring all team members are fully aware of what they are accountable for and that their actions and commitment to delivering their tasks is on them, and not the project manager.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and stress levels are at their peak remember you have a team to support you, who are all accountable for their own tasks, and who share the responsibility for the project.