Saturday, November 29, 2014

As a project manager, what should I delegate and what should I do myself?

As a project manager, what should I delegate and what should I do myself?

Project management responsibilities are generally
yours for any project where you are the designated leader. Delegation
of some of this work to others can be necessary and appropriate on
very large programs, but for the most part it is best to ‘‘delegate’’ all of
it, or at least the most essential parts, to yourself.
Project leaders can safely assume that their project management
responsibilities will consume roughly 10 percent of their time per contributor
on their teams. This time is consumed in meetings, communications,
care and feeding of stakeholders, problem solving, hand-holding,
and other general project-related tasks. If your team is larger than about
nine people (whether they all report directly to you or not), you won’t
have much bandwidth available to take on other assigned work. Even
part-time contributors count—even though they might theoretically
require less attention, often they actually require more because of their
distractions and other priorities.

Your project will probably be your primary responsibility, but it may
not be your only one. Consider how much time any other work you are
committed to will require, and include that with the overall assessment
of your workload. Also include any planned time off or other interruptions
such as organizational meetings that will take time away from your
project. If you have only modest other demands on your time and your
project is small, or you have a very experienced and competent team
that will require little attention, you may find that you do have some
amount of time to devote to other assigned work on the project.
In gauging your capacity, it’s prudent not to schedule more than
about 90 percent of your time in advance; you will need to be able to
react quickly to problems and issues as they arise.

Even if you do appear to have some available work capacity, set a target
to delegate nearly all the project activities you define to your contributors.
Consider yourself a last resort, and only assign yourself work that
is easily interrupted and not schedule critical. Your first priority should
be to the project as a whole, and if you assign yourself critical work you
are liable to find yourself with conflicting top priorities.
You may find that there are activities for which you are by far the
most qualified and experienced person on your team. Even for this work,
you should not consider yourself as the first option. It is difficult to
assign work to people who are less competent than you are, and it can
be painful to watch people fumbling through tasks that you can do blindfolded.
If you intend to take the role of project leadership seriously, you
need to get over this. Assigning work to your team members will build
the base of skills on your team, and it will leave you open to help and
mentor as needed in addition to all your other responsibilities.
In short, assign to yourself scheduled activities (other than those
directly related to project management) only when you have available
capacity, the work is noncritical, and you appear to be the only reasonable

Throughout your project, things will happen that won’t be as you
planned them. The main reason for leaving some available capacity for
yourself unscheduled is so you will be able to take on unanticipated,
emergency work as the need arises. If a key contributor is out ill or
otherwise indisposed, someone will need to step in. Effective project
leaders are always assessing the overall status and rebalancing the work
in the face of reality, so that progress can continue more or less as
planned. Delegating work to yourself during the project is nearly inevitable,
and if your ‘‘normal’’ workload consumes all of your capacity, the
only option open to you will be to work overtime. If you plan to see
much of your home and family during your projects, exercise great
restraint when delegating planned work to yourself.

Kshitij Yelkar
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