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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

The Project Management Plan is the ultimate delegation tool!

project, program, portfolio
People find ways to fill the time! If you let them!

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out.” Ronald Reagan

“Don't be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it. Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it.” Donald Rumsfeld

At first glance, the Project Management Plan might be seen as the ultimate tool of micromanagement. It does describe, in detail, exactly how the work of the project is going to be done, where it will be done, when it will be done and how to report on progress. Isn’t that the definition of micromanagement?


The Project Plan is not a tool to micromanage the project team because of the process used to develop it! One of the first things that the project manager does is identify stakeholders, and this is so important that it continues throughout the life-cycle of the project. Why does the project manager place such an emphasis on identifying and engaging stakeholders? Because they rely completely on them to develop every aspect of the Project Plan!

The project manager asks stakeholders for the project requirements, and then decomposes those requirements to identify all the work required to deliver them. And who does the decomposition of the requirements? The subject matter experts! The experts decide all aspects of the project plan including the schedule, what resources are required, how long it will take, what it will cost, risks, communication needs and quality measures.

The project manager plays a key role by defining how the estimating will be done and bringing it all together in the overall Project Plan. Once all the feedback from the experts is represented in the Project Plan, the project manager takes one final step.

The plan is baselined.

“Baselining” the plan is the process of getting all key stakeholders to agree that the Project Plan represents their input and they agree to adhere to all the processes described there. Once the plan is baselined, any changes must be approved through a defined change control process.

At this point the plan does tell everyone on the project team what to do, when to do it and how to report on progress. But those stakeholders actually developed the plan! They are just executing against what they said needed to be done!

That is the opposite of micro-management. It frees the team to do the work and the project manager to monitor progress and take corrective action if necessary.

The Project Plan is great example of how to delegate!


I am spending a lot of time thinking about the upcoming changes to the PMP® Exam, specifically the elevated status of “agile”. In fact, I just received a new PMBOK® that has the “Agile Practice Guide” incorporated. I have decided I don’t like it. I understand that Agile and Hybrid have been important for adaptive projects, but there are a many projects that are predictive. Not everyone is doing code or developing a website. Many people are actually building houses, bridges and roads! Agile is a tool for a specific fact pattern, so why blend the two in a single exam?

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