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Project Ownership: Who Else Owns your Project?

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It’s always fun to see ProjectsAtWork.com publish my articles.  Thanks to the great comments from readers in response to a recently published work on project ownership in PAW:

Project ownership - who else owns your project? Recently, a project management colleague was expressing frustration with her inability to get a project moving in a constructive direction. She knew the success of the project was her responsibility. Yet she felt hamstrung in her ability to get what she needed from people. Even simple requests for information from external stakeholders went unanswered and resulted in project inertia.

I hear this from project managers on a regular basis and it always brings me back to one of the truisms in project management: The project manager is responsible for project success. In fact, this is clearly articulated A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide-Fifth Edition), Section 2.2.3, titled Project Success:

  • “The project manager is responsible and accountable for setting realistic and achievable boundaries for the project and to accomplish the project within the approved baselines.”

This is reasonable. But it’s not enough to simply declare that the project manager owns the success of the project. There are numerous qualifiers to project success resting on the PM’s shoulders. I’d like to focus on roles and responsibilities. Specifically, a project manager’s ownership for project success or failure makes sense only when others take ownership for their part of the project, as well.

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