Popular Project Management Phrases – Part One

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Last week, as I was teaching a PMP Exam Prep course, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all those PM phrases that we have come to know and love. I thought it might be interesting to examine a few of these phrases and ask the question, “Are they still relevant?”

This week’s phrase:

“The Project Manager has all of the responsibility and none of the authority”

My interpretation of this phrase is that as PM’s we have a responsiblity to perform activities within all 9 of the knowledge areas (scope, time, cost, etc). The only authority that we wield, is granted by the organization for which we work, through the project charter. A lot of this authority is based upon the type of organization that we work for; functional, matrix, or projectized. In a traditional sense we defer most of the decision-making and authority to the project sponsor.

Most project sponsor’s are at the executive level and prefer to handle the big strategic decisions. This often leaves most of the day-to-day tactical decisions for the PM. Generally I have seen a trend towards the PM having more-and-more authority on projects than in the past. Even so, I still believe that in most cases this phrase is still correct.

What do you think?