Decision Making by the Project Manager

decision making
Decision making

I’ve written in the past about what makes a good project manager.  One thing I’ve never addressed is a project manager’s decision making abilities – and limitations.

Managers in general need to be decisive.  It shows the ability get things done when others don’t know how to move forward.

But a project manager needs to know when to be decisive and when to defer.

For instance, I manage projects in a consulting environment.  When issues arise requiring a decision, it’s important to realize that although I manage the project, and am responsible for the project’s success, at the end of the day the client owns the project. Even when managing an internal project, the business customer owns the project.

If something happens that could cause a delay, the project manager’s job is to be an adviser.  The PM brings the issue up to the sponsor, explains the options available and describes ramifications of each option. He or she may also provide recommendations, but the decision belongs to the business.

For more information see Stakeholder Management for Project Managers

It’s usually not the project manager’s decision to remove functionality from the scope of the project or to change the end date.  The PM can’t add billable staff to the project at the business’s expense unless the additional cost is approved.

There may be situations where the project manager has limited authority to add staff with available project budget.  But changing scope, time frame or the staffing model without the consent of the business stakeholders is usually outside of a project manager’s authority.

Related post: The 2 Error Types That Destroy Your Management Credibility

Analogous to that would be the doctor who not only advises you to eat right, but dictates your grocery list and goes with you to the grocery store to approve the foods you buy.

If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.

You may ask the doctor for advice, but as the patient/customer, the end decision is yours.

Copyright 2014 Lew Sauder, Inc.