Problem: Restricted Access or Lack of Access to Project Data
Project data access is often very limited or even restricted in some companies or on some projects. Restricted access is not always good.
If you make a project manager or project team member responsible for tracking and reporting on something (such as project costs or cost forecasts), you will not get good results if they lack efficient access to the related project information.
It is not efficient if that person must continually ask someone else for outputs from a database to be able to do their job.
Lack of access to project data or project information relates to many areas of managing projects, including:
- Cost control
- Cost forecasting
- Project contracts
- Vendor / Contractor control
- Document access
- Scope access
- Change management
- Team access to project folders, files, documents (and the document system) and project web sites
Limiting access to project information or data for your team leads to increased costs and slower project delivery. It also leads to frustration, reduced staff motivation, difficulty retaining staff and general staff discontent.
I have been on projects where, due to the company or alliance setup, I had very restricted access to project data. This often included access to the project contracts. Yet at times I was responsible for project change management, cost reporting or variation control. Without access to all the documents or data I continually had to request information exports or extracts from an accounting or legal department, which significantly slowed my work.
Sometimes there is a reason why access to sensitive or restricted information is controlled, but I find that much of the time it is just a bad system setup.
At times, I found that the lack of quick data access increased the time it took to do my work by 2 or 3 times. This of course meant higher unnecessary project costs. It also meant that I was not motivated to work overtime, as I knew that any overtime necessary was only due to the existing lack of data access.
I have quit jobs or projects due to the lack of data or information access. I have also seen other people leave projects or companies for the same reason. Sometimes they even left my projects, because I was not allowed to (or the systems didn’t let me) give them access to the data they needed to do their job.
Solution: Give Access to All Project Information
If you put someone in charge of something or give them a role, make sure they have access to the information/data necessary for that role. Don’t restrict their access.
For example, if a person is working on cost forecasting, they should have read access to all the data showing costs. They should not have to ask an accountant for data each time they need access to it, this just slows the process down.
A cost controller, or someone responsible for organising or reporting variations should have access to the project contract. They will need to know things like the number of days allowed for variations to be issued etc.
The project director and project manager should at least have full access to all the project information, documents, contracts and data. That should be the absolute minimum. The project manager then should have the authority and ability to grant access to any project information or project systems to other project team members. This should include the project control system if it exists.
Without this ability to grant access, the project manager is very restricted in their ability to delegate work.
Good project management and project accounting systems within your company will usually resolve most of these access issues. However, restrictive controls from above play a significant role too.
There are valid reasons to restrict access to some or all of your project. Examples include confidential client projects, defence projects, and business development projects that you don’t want many people to know about. However, in most cases outside of the above, I find that restricting access to project information causes more problems, more costs and slower delivery than is worthwhile.
Lack of access to project information, documents and data can cause a significant increase in project cost and schedule.
Ensure all your project team has access to the information they need. Don’t restrict their access.
The project manager should have full access, and the ability to grant any access needed, without having to make requests to other people each time.