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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Linnebjerg

Why Projects Fail - Managing Roles and Responsibilities for Project Success

In 25 years of managing projects, programs and portfolios, this important discipline has made a decisive difference with respect to the success rate and -probability of project-based initiatives that I have been involved in; Roles and Responsibilities Management.

Start with the beginning: if you don't know who owns an assignment or a role in a project, it's going to be pretty hard to find out if your most important goals and assignments are on track.

I have entered quite a number of global transition and transformation programs and after a few days or weeks realized that the roles and responsibilities were not aligned with the major goals and activities of the program.

Some of the most common mistakes include:

1) Lack of Separation

- of daily business and project related assignments and associated allocation of resources - This often results in lack of ability to clearly prioritize, assign and thus drive forward the progress and delivery of major project and program milestones.

2) Lack of Assignment

- including deliverable definition and ownership - programs and projects have a number of core assignments within the PMO* such as reporting, staffing, planning, onboarding, communications, management of risks, issues, escalations and related actions - assigning these and related best practice roles, will secure quality and transparency throughout the program.

3) Lack of Allocation - without a centralized and efficient allocation of necessary resources and competences: we don't know if we can actually deliver what is planned, because we don't keep tabs on the estimation of tasks, the allocation of resources and competencies and we don't plan accordingly.

4) Lack of Delegation

- without a clear organization designed around major deliverables and well defined workstreams, we will not be able to secure an efficient and effective delegation of tasks and assignments - this will eventually lead to the fact that leading team members will become bottlenecks and delay the program.

5) Lack of Organization

- in large scale programs, keeping control over the status and progress is only possible with a clear overview of planning and reporting functions within workstreams and major deliverables. Failing to organize and align with best practices in program management controlling will eventually lead to exhaustion and frustration within the program team: information is requested but cannot be provided in a timely manner, uncertainty grows and management support degrades and is eventually replaced by top down micro management.

6) Lack of Communication

- even if you have secured all of the above, still making sure that everybody knows, understands and will follow the guidelines, knows who to address with which subjects, requires a steady flow of communication around the ownership and governance of the mentioned areas or organizing the program. Team members will not be able to act and align without knowing the game and the rules - thus regular communication of governance and organization is needed to secure ownership and drive quality.

7) Lack of Coordination

- the best way to secure that everybody is on the same page, understand governance, acts by organization and supports the program values is simply to instate the relevant and best practice meeting schedules within the program. A logical sequence, well designed agendas, lean participant lists and recurring schedules will eventually result in a culture of planning and organizing along the governance of the program.

If any or all of these program management disciplines are not aligned and managed by the program management team, nobody will be able to give a clear picture of status and progress without elaborate and exhausting deep dives into designated workstreams.

If you want to know more about organizing your global transition and transformation programs, please get in touch with us to discuss your challenges, so that we can provide guidance and standardized, proven best practice tools for increasing the success-rate of your program.

Kenneth Linnebjerg

Global Transition and Transformation Programs

Direct: +45-4116-6770


*Project- or Program Management Office - Centralized support function for the Program Management Team.

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