Handling “..who is responsible for the software project..” dilemma

Who is responsible for the software project? The answer needs to be “all of us.” The IT team should never build software for the business, but instead with the business. With a variety of cooks in the kitchen, setting up roles, responsibilities, expectations, and accountability becomes a necessity, not a luxury.

People want to do good work and, to do so, need to have clarity in roles and responsibility.

To create a project team with clear accountability, you need to create a cohesive plan and foster a culture of ownership among every member of the team. Below are a few researched ways of keeping your responsibilities clear.

Create a Master Plan

The nature of successful business requires planning. In fact, it is often said that the difference between a wish and a goal is a plan. Usually, the problem within a software project is not that there is no plan, but that there are too many plans. Marketing, sales, finance, customer service, and IT will all craft plans related to the software project.

Each plan will have intersection points and dependencies on the others but, all too often, these are not shared and communicated. Handoffs from one team to another will fail and the project will be negatively impacted. The bigger the build or the bigger the business, the more dependencies and handoffs there will be. In order to create and maintain order with so many moving parts, you will need a master plan.

You need two things to make this work.

  1. A single person responsible for everything coming together. This is the person that pushes obstacles out of the way and makes sure the work meets at the right place down the road.
  2. While every group needs a plan for the work they are doing, there needs to be visibility into how all the pieces fit together. Use this to let each group know who is the consumer or their work and who they need work from.
    Focus time on meeting the commitments to produce those
    connection points.

The master plan will need to be reviewed, updated, and shared
regularly throughout the life-cycle of the project.

Foster Ownership

Most often people are given a project but never really make it their own. It is so tough to make things happen when the people doing the work don’t care. Team members need to feel the purpose, the goal, and the pride of success. They need a common enemy to rally against whether that is a completion date or a technical challenge. In all cases, if the people involved don’t care about the project, it will fail.

How do you foster that ownership? The kind of passion and focus you need never comes from someone just doing their job, it comes from people caring about what they are doing and believing in why they are doing it. It is the difference between a job and a career, a supervisor and a leader, a failure and a success.

The challenge here is getting the team to gel together and rally against the goal. Avoid making yourself as the leader the bad guy to encourage the team to band against as that will not bode well for the long term. Instead, be in the game with them.