What percentage of the project manager's time is spent planning, writing tasks, and tracking time in the project management software? How much time should be given to documentation?

Every position is a little different, so I'm hoping to see some different answers based on different experiences.

In your answer, please list the following items:

  • Type of project
  • How many people were on the project and their roles.
  • How long it lasted
  • How much time (percentages are fine) you spent working on the above items.
  • If you're a technical project manager, please list that as well. I'm wondering if technical project managers spend less time planning than non-technical project managers and what impact that has on planning, organizing, and assessing the project risk, success, and other factors.

Scope reduction UPDATE: On smaller projects consisting of roughly 5 to 10 developers, how much of the developer's time should be spent planning, writing tasks, and tracking time in the project management software? How much time should be given to documentation?

As per the requests below, I've narrowed the scope to just smaller projects.

UPDATE on 2/26/2011: This question is still open. I'm looking for links to professional resources that describe the suggested breakdown of time management for a project manager in a small project. Personal experiences are helpful, but it would also help me to see the information backed up with at least one good link.

  • 2
    You're asking the answerer's to do a lot of work there, so you'll likely get few answers. Could you consider relaxing the requirements a little to get more responses? You could always comment on peoples' answers if you're interested in particular aspects. Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:32
  • Agree with JBRWilkinson. This question is so broad, the range of answers received is likely to have little meaning. I myself have worked on projects that ranged from 0% to 100%. What does one do with this information? Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 20:40
  • I updated the question. Let me know if you need more clarification. Thanks!
    – jmort253
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 3:18
  • @Bill - Thanks for removing that project-management tag. We discussed that in meta and all agreed it was unnecessary here, and I hadn't realized I used it myself!
    – jmort253
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


Depends on the phase of the project.

  • During planning or requirements gathering, most of the time is spent planning.

  • During execution and monitoring and controlling the project, most of the time is spent communicating with a portion of the time spent on gathering information /status updates from project management software.

In general, over the lifecycle of a project, over 80% of the time is spent communicating. What is done with the other 20% varies by phase, style and what's needed at the time.

  • Can you possibly add links to the resources you used to come up with this answer? Thanks!
    – jmort253
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 3:57
  • Point + because the PMBOK, and other PM Books based on PMBOK acknowledges that the PM take most of the time on the Initiating and Planing Process of a project, even the project is small. In Executing the PM expends less time, because the PM planned for every aspect of the project, in Monitoring and Control the PM measure and act. On closing the PM expends little time. Commented Feb 26, 2011 at 21:55
  • If the PM is expending a lot of time on Execution, it means that is not a PM, is a Project Leader, who takes account on PM, Technical Lead, Developer, Architect, ETC. In a formal sense, PM does not execute the work, the PM plans the work. Commented Feb 26, 2011 at 21:56

I would suggest to spend 0% of PM's time for planning/writing/tracking of tasks. Project team has to report and software has to do the reporting. PM should stay focused on other things.

These "other things" are risk, scope, quality, time, communication, and HR planning. All other activities in the project should be done by other people. In the ideal world, of course.

  • 2
    Do you mind clarifying your answer. I'm very interested to learn more. If the PM isn't doing the planning/writing tasks/tracking, who does? What do you suggest PM's stay focused on? Thanks!
    – jmort253
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 3:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.