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Time management - Responsibility, accountability, authority

Responsibility / accountability / authority

You can’t have one without the other

Remember that ‘responsibility’ can be delegated but ‘accountability’ can not.

When you delegate there is little point in giving someone the responsibility if you are not also going to give them the ‘authority’ to carry out the task.


  • You may well find your self carrying out the same task as someone else.
  • Job descriptions may be poor or non existent.
  • Your progress may be held up due to a lack of power to get things done.
  • Poor communication can lead to ambiguity and confusion.
  • Closely guarded secret and no one else knows of your responsibilities and authority.


  • Define the levels of authority. Defining the levels of authority, roles and responsibilities is closely allied to project control.
  • Clarify the job description. If you do not have one make sure you get one.
  • The area of task duplication will be resolved much more easily if good job descriptions are in place.
  • Make sure you clarify exactly what is required of you when you are given a responsibility.
  • The ability to carry out tasks relies on others knowing that you have the required responsibilities and authority. Make sure this is the case.

Useful extras

  • You can identify key individuals within the managerial control structure.
  • Record the roles and responsibilities of every Project Team member which may include individual deliverables. These are covered in more detail later.
  • Identifying individual roles and responsibilities will help clarify duties and avoid any ambiguity.
  • Don’t forget to consider people outside of the Project Team e.g. consultants.

It is very rare that things go exactly to plan. When they do not, things often need to change.
Decisions will need to be made and the levels of authority should be in place.

You should consider authority levels for finance, resource (in this case personnel, equipment purchase or facilities) and any movement of agreed milestone dates and changes to key deliverables.

Everyone needs to agree just how far an individual can go in terms of decision making without referring to a higher authority.

Non - PRINCE2 information