No More Alibis: Implementing Accountability
Every person and every organization face situations when some commitments fail. If there is no accountability in the project – it will proceed without anyone been affected. The final outcome of the project will never be realized and the alibis for this will be numerous. All project stakeholders, including the client and team members will feel frustrated and nervous.
If you introduce accountability in your project, the stakeholders and the team members will know that the project goes in the desired direction, and that the final outcome will be reached. When accountability is applied in your project (organization), there will be a higher possibility that the results will be obtained.
The starting point is to define the term accountability – and you should realize first what accountability is not. With the term “accountability,” people always consider only the bad things: consequences, fines, etc. For some people accountability is a synonym for punishment – if some task has not been accomplished, or did it wrong – you could be penalized. You have to treat the accountability in a different way and to explain its positive aspects, so it could introduce some benefits to your project. The advantages will be significant in the realization of the project phases and in getting the right outcome.
For these reasons you should consider accountability as important thing in getting the decisions made, actions performed, and results obtained. You should ensure that every person, team or whole organization takes its responsibility, when starting some particular action (task). Accountability should be considered as efficient leading tool that will enable accomplishment of the pre-defined tasks, and constant review of the current progress.
Some team members will treat accountability as a control point; however, the accountability is more than that and it essential part of the organization’s behaviour. Accountability defines the way the company evaluates the people and the teams that participate in a project – for their achievements and their outcomes.
An important issue is that the accountability is not official project management methodology. It exists within a project and it is important for the project success, but it is not a project management tool. Project management is a methodology and an approach to get the desired outcomes. Accountability (or lack of it) is a collective behaviour or norm that can be applied for governance of an individual, a team, or whole organizations.
Accountability should be important practice in each organization. You should not expect and rely on the fact that people would perform and deliver the results that were defined in the business case, and that these results will always be obtained. Benefits could not be obtained only by punish, or reward method. In the project management process, you have to ensure that the organization achieves the expected results – and for this goal accountability can help you.
Here we present some important features of accountability that can help you and your organization in getting the right project outcomes:
- Leadership: First of all, accountability needs a leadership. You, as a project leader, should step ahead to take custody of the benefits and the drawbacks that have been achieved so far in the project (or to inspect the achievements).
- Assumptions: It is important to define assumptions, in order to get the expected outcome. You will also need to define the set of all results, the measures for the accomplished work and which are the specific benefits requirements and their associated items. Your outcomes (results) should be measurable, and the measures should be defined up front, in order to ensure that the outcomes can really be obtained.
- Ownership: It is important to determine early in the project who actually owns the expected outcomes. This person will be responsible for ensuring the outcomes are realized. If you don’t have an owner, then no one will care about getting the outcomes. In some cases, ownership of outcomes is assumed, and in such cases, no one has ownership. If no one owns the work portions, then no one takes care for the outcomes. Note: the owner of the outcomes should not be the project manager.
- Responsibility: You should define the ownership and the assumptions, and once this is done, you will also need to define the owner’s responsibility. The outcome’s owner should clearly take the ownership and negotiate the assumptions in advance. You have to agree with him about the steps that will be performed. The additional assumptions and requirements should be identified and assigned to specific owner, so that the desired outcomes could be achieve
Every project is unique by nature, so you as a project manager must have the ability to understand all business processes and see how your planning will resolve the possible problems. Even if you are on time and on budget, the clients can have some misunderstanding of a specific requirement. The accountability is what is sometimes lacking. Not all people have asked the right questions and you should determine the right people accountable throughout the project.
Accountability increases the possibility of realizing all aspects of a project. By defining clear ownership, assumptions and responsibility, and by showing leadership – the crucial people in the company will have a greater impact on the project outcomes. This may not guarantee the best results, but it will help you to obtain the desired benefits.