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I am a member of a team of programmers. We do not have a real boss as we work as a group. Each member of a group took non-programming tasks on himself as well, which mainly means that they do testing and coding. It's a 10-hour-a-day job.

Now, since I am the most talkative and experienced person on the team, I got more management tasks and cut my programming to the minimum. When the day ends, I feel like I need 40 hours rather than 10 in each working day.

I have been asking myself if I am not well organized, or if I took too many tasks upon myself. I will list all the roles I have in our team so maybe someone can reply to my question.

My roles are:

  • a person who talks to clients
  • a person who seeks clients (newspapers, friends, old clients, etc.)
  • a person who writes project specifications for the ongoing projects
  • a person who does project management by assigning tasks to other colleagues and monitors their progress (then reports it to clients)
  • a person who seeks new contractors when some project or part of it needs to be outsourced, interviews them and makes/choose quality tests
  • a person who does minor (1-2 hours) fixes in the projects

Does this seem like too much for one person? When I look at this list it doesn't look like too much to me. If it's too much, which part needs to be assigned to someone else?

  • Hi Ben! Although the question is quite interesting (and I'm tempted to share my two cents) it sounds a little too localized... but I don't see a way to change it and keep all answers still valid. – Tiago Cardoso Nov 5 '13 at 13:39
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TL;DR

Whether self-imposed or as a result of organizational dysfunction, you are wearing too many hats and are unlikely to be able to perform any of the multiple roles well.

This is an organizational resource-constraint issue. It is Senior Management's responsibility to resolve it.

You're Not Cross-Functional; You're Filling Multiple Roles

You are not filling a single role defined in any project management framework that I'm aware of. Instead, you are filling a variety of different roles, such as:

  • Sales Manager
  • Client Engagement Manager
  • Command-and-Control Project Manager.
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Hiring Manager
  • Developer or Support Engineer

Each of these roles requires a different skill set, and in most cases each role is a full-time job all by itself. Even if you allocate a slice of your time to each role, you aren't going to able to do justice to roles which require the equivalent of six full-time people to perform.

Possible Solutions

You have a number of possible solutions, but they all involve Senior Management taking responsibility for the organizational structure and the funding of adequate resources.

Some options include:

  • Hiring more people to fill each of these distinct roles.
  • Reducing the resource requirements for each role by removing scope of responsibility.
  • Explicitly transferring responsibility to another person or team, such as the Project Sponsor or Steering Committee.
  • Reducing the scope of the project, or extending its schedule, in order to accommodate all the "invisible" work you're doing.
  • Make all the work you do a visible cost to the project, and ensure that any drag on productivity or scheduling is clearly attributed to the current resource constraints.

If you want to work 90+ hours a week trying to do the job of six people, that's certainly a valid personal choice, but it's rarely the right choice for the project or the organization in the long run because it's simply not sustainable. Your mileage (and organizational politics) may certainly vary.

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The root cause(s) of poor performance can be many: not enough people, not the right people, poor tools, poor plan or method(s), environmental issues. There's no way this forum could pinpoint your issues on your project. If you are not producing the output you want by the end of day, indeed it could be you or a lack of you. I'd choose the latter first and bring on some help and see if that makes a difference.

EDIT: Your health and lack of bandwidth as "costs" for results are indicators of poor performance. It comes down to resolution of your performance assessment. If you decrease the resolution a bit and include more time, you will likely see unfavorable impacts somewhere down the line, including your health. The idea is to build sustainable, repeatable, predictable, and parachutable capabilities. High operational tempo and heroic performance are not these. They are temporary, may produce good results, but you cannot rely on it for any significant period of time.

  • No, results are there and the price is my health and inability to do anything else but the work. :) – ben_fff76 Nov 5 '13 at 7:16

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