Project team roles and responsibilities

A project team is like a mini organisation where understanding of roles and responsibilities is important
If you look at a project as a mini organisation and consider that it is very important that the people working in your ‘mini organisation’ fully understand their roles and responsibilities, just as is the case in any organisation or business, then this might help alleviate some issues that you may have with teamwork and delivery output.

You might say that you think this idea is crazy because “Everyone knows what they have to do”.  Is that true?  Do they really fully understand what it is that they are expected to do.

Can you absolutely know that they fully know what they have to do?  I am pretty sure that if you asked them a number of people would say “No” they don’t.

I am not talking about formal job descriptions here either.


Have the discussion in your project kick-off meeting

Part of a great project kick off meeting should be to talk to the team and discuss the roles and responsibilities for everyone.  Also talk about the hand off points and dependency areas.  This will help team members see where what they do is forming part of the holistic project delivery.  It will provide clarity.

These discussions will also eliminate silos from operating.  Silo’s in a project team create issues because work is completed in isolation of others and may then need to be re-worked.


What if you are part way through your project?

If you are already working on your project and you are starting to notice problems with delivery, then it’s not too late to have this discussion.  Talk to each work team, each delivery area, and ask these questions “Are you clear on your roles and responsibilities?”  “Do you understand where your hand off points are and who you are dependent upon in the team?”

A great idea, if you have a Business Analyst on your team,might be to workflow or map out the connection points between the streams or work teams.  This is one way to provide the clarity that might otherwise be missing.  This pictorial way of showing how the team operates as a whole might help those people on the team who are visually oriented.

It might also be worthwhile considering having a small number of key deliverables mapped out and documented for each team.  I am of course referring to the individual work streams.  List what it is that you need them to be responsible for.  This, again, provides clarity where none is present.


How does this clarity impact project success?

  • By providing this level of clarity to each of the teams working on your project you are giving them more autonomy and showing them that you trust that they will work with you to deliver this project.
  • Teams are more likely to cooperate and work together when they are clear on their own responsibilities, and the dependencies between their work and that of others.
  • You, as the PM, will be more likely to have visibility of what is occurring, as it will provide clarity of the work that needs to be completed.

How will you provide this role and responsibility clarity to your project team members?



Written by Karen Munro

*Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Ooostrom from