Recently I had an opportunity of observing few IT projects in progress. Sometimes such an external perspective is a true blessing as it helps to notice things that were somehow omitted by core project team. I’m not going to elaborate on all the details, I’ll just focus on the importance of clear hierarchy and the role of project manager.

Let’s start with 1 room rule. Whenever your project team is located in more than 1 room / open-space, you should have an organized approach to coordination and communication. It doesn’t necessary mean tones of formal documents - but as knowledge (and information in general) doesn’t spread telepathically (or via diffusion / osmosis …):

  • Each information quantum that may affect in any way some individuals’ work, should be propagated to them
  • Each decision made should be announced to the proper audience (don’t assume it will happen, make sure there’s an individual appointed to do that)
  • Each conclusion should be re-forged to proper action item list
  • Each action item should have responsible individual / team assigned
  • The same applies to each project’s domain area - whether it’s related to functionality or just a process that takes place during the process (like deployment) - each area has to have an owner

And project management is about making sure all of the above actually takes place (among other things):

  • Being project manager *isn’t* about doing low level work and micro-managing (“because I’m the best and noone else can do that …”)
  • Being project manager *isn’t* about pushing people to fill time reports or preparing test exectution stats (c’mon, get an analyst from PMO to do that)
  • Being project manager *isn’t* about siloing all the knowledge and communication within yourself
  • Being project manager *is* about delegating lower level tasks to suitable people and making *them* doing that
  • Being project manager *is* about monitoring, controlling, verifying and kicking asses

Project management is about keeping things organized and in order - clear hierarchy, clear structure, clear responsibility, clear ownership. This is army, soldier-boy!

Keeping all that in mind, you can see how important project manager role is. That’s why replacing it with collegial body of stakeholders is among the worst ideas I’ve heard …