Roles and responsibility


the-broken-chain1Knowing who is who in your project is alpha and omega when communicating to your stakeholders, but more important is to know who is responsible for what – Call it your chain of command if you like, or who to turn to when things start to turn bad.

Below you will find a short description of the 4 roles, that is the minimum you need to assign to your project. There might be other roles and responsibilities that you need to assign, but the four roles below should always be assigned.

Project owner
So what roles should be assigned in a project. First of you need a project owner, who is financial responsible for the project – This is “The big dog in the kennel”, and he or she will be ultimately responsible for the entire project and its success. This person is the one paying the bills, and therefor he or she can ultimately add more resource to the project and save you if needs, change the scope of the project by removing tasks or maybe even close down your project if expenses are too high.

Project manager
The next in the chain of command is the project manager(s). There can be one or more project managers to a project, e.g. if you are doing a project for a customer, then there can be a project manager at the supplier and at the customer. The project manager(s) are responsible for the day-to-day management of the project, and they report directly to the project owner and the other stakeholders, including the steering committee. Reporting can include things like finances, progress, risks, deadlines and other issues – Basically what the steering committee and the Project owner needs in order to make the right decisions.

Product owner
The product owner is responsible for creating and updating the project backlog (which is the list of tasks that sums up your project). The product owner need to know his/hers product well enough to prioritize, update and maybe even remove items from the backlog. He or she is also responsible for creating the sprint backlog, which focuses on the tasks that is to be included in the sprint at hand and the upcoming sprints (see previous blog post on the Product owners rule in scrum projects).

Scrum master
A project (if agile) can have one or more Scrum Masters. The Scrum Masters role is to make sure that the day-to-day progress of the project is running smoothly. This role is normally given to one of the senior developers on each development team. It is the SCRUM master obligation to report any problems that the team can handle to the project manager and product owner, but also he or she needs to make sure that the development runs smoothly on the day-to-day basis.

The resources that you need varies from project to project. Since this website focuses on IT projects, then you will probably one or more developers or technically personalities, but resources can also be designers, architects, legal advise, security, machinery, buildings, servers and so forth.

It really depends on the project at hand, however there should be no doubt, when it comes to day to day business then the resources needs to know what they are supposed to build, not how to build it, in what order to build it and so forth. If you are a project owner, project manager, product owner or the scrum master, it is extremely important that you focuses on facilitating the project, support the resources and make sure that everybody is moving in the right direction.

Priority should ALWAYS be a priority


PrioritiesOne thing I see as the key component to a successful project is priority. No project have sufficient funds to build everything or to meet every demand. Therefore, priority is a necessity if you want to be able to meet budget and deadlines.

In most projects, you will experience that the client/customer/product owner/boss/etc. will expect you to work miracles and deliver everything they want, in record time without spending any money… I’ll let you in on a little secret – That’s not how it works.

Therefore, you should always request your client to priorities everything – It is your task to make sure that tasks are prioritized, but you should never actually do it – Only facilitated it.

There are different ways to help the client do the priorities, but it is important that everybody agrees on the model, and that the client is the one accountable for the priority. The model that you should use depends on your client, but you need two parameters for each task to be able to do the prioritizing – Namely Cost and Value. When you do the prioritizing maneuver with you client, then the client should be able to decide whether a task is worth the effort or not. Maybe spending 50% of the budget on one task out of a hundred isn’t the right priority… However, only the customer will know this, maybe his entire business is depended on that one task.

Please see our project model for more information on priorities, specifically the phases “Idea”, “Analysis” and “Implementation”.