Assigning Multiple Project Managers

Typically, you would assign a single Project Manager per project, however; it is quite common for there to be more than one project manager.


Based on two project managers then you have four different arrangements for doing so.  The arrangements are based on splitting the Project Management responsibilities between the two project managers. The first split is the project scope and second is the project outputs.

In addition, you could use what I call the Collaborate arrangement to see whether a “pair programming” type of arrangement would benefit your portfolio.

  1. Vendor

This is where a project manager has another project manager deliver a part of the project for them. The second project manager becomes responsible for delivering that piece of scope for the project though their output/product/deliverable needs to be integrated back into the whole by the first project manager.

A common example is where a third party is contracted to deliver a part of the project and they assign their own project manager to that piece of work.

This arrangement also covers where both project managers are part of the same business but the second belongs to the business unit responsible for that piece of scope. For example Business and Technical Project Managers on IT projects.

 

  1. Rescue

This is where another project manager is assigned to manage a poor performing project manager rather than remove and replace them.

All communications and project management decisions now go through the new project manager. The incumbent project manager remains to keep the momentum on work already in progress and to take advantage of the knowledge they have built up so far.

 

  1. Independent

Where a project can be split into separate pieces of work that can either be integrated late in the project lifecycle or delivered separately then each of those pieces of work can have their own project manager.

This is a good option if the amount of work required to manage one of those work streams is a full-time project manager job and/or has a high-risk profile.

 

  1. Collaborate

This is number 3 but where the project cannot be split up into independent pieces of work.

The project managers will need to decide between them what they will manage and need to share responsibility for communicating to stakeholders, including the project team.

Requires project managers that are comfortable to shift their focus at short notice from one part of a project to another and to not be “precious” about what part of the project they are responsible for.

The advantage of this arrangement is that the project managers can support each other if one of them has a spike in workload and making sure the project team always has someone available to raise items with.

 

‘Pair Programming’ applied to Project Managers

Phil Jacklin recently published an interesting post asking whether it would be valuable to have two rather than one project manager assigned to a project (http://bit.ly/2xbwXmi).

Phil’s article articulates the benefits of this approach and I think option 4 above, “Collaborate”, has the potential to test this out.

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