Principle 2: Ensure a single point of accountability for each project or programme

Accountability means being answerable to your superior (or a higher governing body) for achieving a particular outcome. Accountability is one of, if not the key concept in P3G. Note that accountability relates to achieving something rather than just doing something. While you may be responsible for undertaking a task, you are accountable for achieving an outcome.

There may be many people responsible for various tasks which together produce an outcome – but only one person can be held accountable for that outcome.

There is sometimes a perception that accountability is about who to blame if things go wrong.  This is a very negative interpretation which may discourage people from accepting accountability. Accountability is about empowerment.  It is not about blame.

Accountability is important because it empowers the accountable person to act and make decisions.  Without a single point of accountability decision making becomes a slow process of consensus building across multiple stakeholders and this is just too slow a process to meet the needs of projects or programmes.

Although everyone in a project or programme is accountable for something, the most important accountability is accountability for the success of the project or programme. The principle of appointing a person as the single point of accountability for the success of a programme or project is the key enabler of efficient project or programme decision making. The person accountable for the success of a programme is called the Senior Responsible Owner or SRO. The person accountable for the success of a project is called the Project Sponsor. The single point of accountability should remain constant throughout the life of the project / programme.

Remember:  Accountability is about empowering the accountable person.

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