There’s little question that the project manager has overall responsibility for the project as long as it is active.  Indeed, that responsibility starts even before the work begins – it starts when the project is formally assigned to the project manager.  In many environments, the project manager develops the project schedule with little to no input or feedback from the people who will be doing the work. There are several reasons for this.

The team has yet to be assembled

One key reason – at least in my experience – for not involving the team in the initial project schedule development is the fact that I’m developing it before any of my team is assembled.  I get the project and start preparing for the kickoff meeting.  At this point I usually have no team assembled – and if I do it may only be a business analyst and he’s busy preparing for the kickoff as well.  So, I’m usually putting the initial draft schedule together on my own and getting out to the customer just in time for the kickoff meeting.

The rush is on

Another reason the project manager will put the initial schedule together is the time required to obtain this type of input from team members. Getting people involved adds time, and the more people, the more time to develop the schedule.  Team input – as well as customer input – is critical throughout the engagement during status meetings, etc. as the project schedule goes through changes.  But many project managers find that timing is critical and it just takes too much valuable time to get team input when you’re trying to put together that first iteration of the project schedule.

It’s my responsibility

A final reason is a likely to control.  The project manager has overall responsibility for the project. The project manager has the big picture perspective and can ensure that “all the pieces fit together.”  The project manager likes to be in control and therefore often wants overall responsibility for that first project schedule that kicks off the project.

The flip side

The counterargument to these – except in the case where no team is assembled yet – is that the project team should have a say in building the schedule. Although participation adds to the flow time, it does offer some powerful advantages. By obtaining input, the project manager solicits ownership in and commitment to the schedule, especially for the work each person is responsible to do. Project team participation also helps to raise issues and question assumptions early to preclude future misunderstandings and problems.  The concept is, if you help build it you help own it and that ownership can keep help your team and your project get off on the right foot from the outset.