This week, in “The 8 Biggest Problems” podcast, Cadence president John Patton brings you problem number six in the series: responsibility at the task level is unclear.

“We say that the project manager is responsible for everything, yet the project manager has no line authority,” says Patton. “When responsibilities are unclear and the work isn’t adequately defined, then you get status meetings that speak about the next one or two weeks out and we see the same project getting redefined over and over again in weekly status meetings, but never with a longer-term horizon, never with the end in sight.”

Unclear task responsibility can lead to project inefficiencies where you might not expect them. For example, as a project manager, you may find enthusiastic team members each working on the same task in isolation, where only one team member is appropriate. You may find an individual working on a task where two or three team members are required, which could force task rework further down the project timeline. In either case, the team suffers when task responsibilities are not clear.

This week, Patton introduces the Cadence Graphic Responsibility Matrix. This tool has been used time and again in Cadence consulting and training assignments to help project teams define accurate and reasonable responsibilities across projects.

“In my experience, we’ve found all sorts of project problems earlier using the responsibility matrix. These are problems about resources, these are problems of responsibility and authority — issues pop up when people start talking about tasks on a detailed level.”

The Cadence Graphic Responsibility Matrix is available as a PDF for download:

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