The importance of accountability in project management

19 Jul 2023
The importance of accountability in project management

Author's note: Please enjoy this encore post, which was one of our website visitors' favourites in 2022. Originally published in Feb, 2022.

When implementing any new software solution, it’s vital that you have a dedicated project manager who is accountable for the project implementation. Accountability is critical to the success of any project.  

When the designated project manager is accountable for their decisions and actions, the project is more likely to be delivered effectively, on time, and in line with expectations. But, if there is no accountability, there’s a high chance the project will fail to deliver all the intended outcomes. 

Here we look at why having a designated project manager is so critical to the successful roll out of a new system, such as the route optimisation and ePOD solution we develop here at Podfather.

What is accountability in project management?

Accountability is about the ownership of outcomes. It is the obligation for an individual or organisation to account for its activities, take responsibility for them, and be transparent about the results. 

So, the person accountable for the management of the project, must take responsibility and accept the consequences of, any related decisions, actions, and results. They must also be able to account for what happened during the project. 

Accountability vs Responsibility 

To properly understand accountability in project management, it’s important to consider the difference between accountability and responsibility. These two terms are often used interchangeably but, in the context of project management, there is a distinction to be made. 

Within project management, a responsible team member is someone who has been given a specific task. They are responsible for that task. An accountable team member, on the other hand, is accountable for a decision or action. They will be accountable for the overall success of the project, including the tasks that other individuals are responsible for. 

Why is accountability important in project management?

A lack of accountability can kill a project. If the internal and external teams aren’t clear on who is accountable for the overall outcomes, and who is responsible for certain tasks, the progress of the project and the results can be severely impacted. 

Of course, it’s not about blame. In fact, quite the opposite. Ensuring accountability can avoid assigning blame which can arise from misunderstandings about who is responsible and accountable for a task. 

How to ensure accountability

Outline roles and objectives  

Accountability starts with defining objectives ensuring that everyone knows who is responsible for which elements of the project. To build accountability for a project, it is important to be clear on who tasks have been assigned to, as well as how those tasks fit into the overall project. 

Set expectations 

If project expectations aren’t clear, the project manager can face conflicting priorities, resulting in delays and a loss of focus if the right decisions aren’t made. As a result, it’s important that clear, unambiguous project expectations are set right from the start so that everyone is clear on the goals, the timeline, and where accountability lies. 

Managing expectations also helps to minimise the risk of misunderstandings about where responsibilities lie for different parts of the project. 

Track milestones 

When managing any project, it’s essential to continuously track progress to ensure that key milestones are reached. If milestones are missed, why? And how will it impact the rest of the project timeline?

This is particularly crucial if, for example, you’re implementing a new process or type of software as the implementation lifecycle may need to be adjusted accordingly. 

Monitor performance 

To maintain accountability, there should be regular check-ins and updates to monitor progress and performance. By monitoring performance, it is possible to highlight successes, as well as challenges and areas for improvement. This will help keep the team accountable and foster a culture of continuous improvement. 

How can Podfather help?

At Podfather, we have an experienced implementation team who are responsible for guiding our customers through the entire onboarding process. We’ll work with your business’ internal project manager to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. 

We’d love to show you just what our ePOD and delivery management system can do. Get in touch and we can arrange an online demonstration with a member of our expert team.