Importance of effective delegation in a startup or small-scale IT organization in Sri Lanka

By Eng Tharindu Weerasinghe

Effective Delegation is a management technique that is used to improve productivity and efficiency in an organization. It can be considered as a concept of distributing work load and authority within an organization. It is important to get the maximum out of the resources in an organization. Hence the distribution of work or tasks and at the same time sharing the responsibility and authority is essential [1]. In a start-up, the most important aspect is to have an inaugural hierarchy that can trust each layer and delegate tasks and obligations effectively. Especially in the IT industry, where the software, firmware and hardware project deliveries are the utmost important phenomena, the effectiveness in delegation has a major role to play.


Delegation of responsibility and authority is a management mechanism to achieve organizational goals [2]. This popular management technique is used not only in well-established organizations but also in start-ups to seeing things done during a stipulated time period with desired quality. As per my own experience with the previous startup that I was employed, it was clearly obvious that effective delegation of responsibility and authority is highly productive and successful.  If a single man can handle multiple tasks at a time throughout a reasonable time then effective delegation is not necessarily needed. But in reality, it is not practical to achieve organizational success using one or two people. In an IT organization the nature of work has a lot of diversity. In a software development firm, there are several departments. As an example, those can be divided into Business System Analytics, Software Development, Software Testing and Quality Assurance, Human Resources, Finance and Accounting. Even in a startup we can see this diversity. Hence the usage of effective delegation is really important to save time, increase profit, reduce individual work stress, boost creativity, to do more work and so on. [3]

An “IT startup” is a fresh organization that uses information technology as their preliminary business domain. IT Startups develop new IT products and services [4]. They can be software development firms, network and systems engineering firms, cyber security firms and so on. According to Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM), there are more than 100 start-ups in Sri Lanka, by 2016[4]. Out of that most are IT startups. In a startup, the remarkable necessity is to grow the start-up into an established enterprise in a reasonable time frame. For that the startup needs to have a strong team with visionary leaders. With visionary leaders’ effective delegation of responsibility and authority make the task force achievable in given deadlines.


With my experience in the Sri Lankan IT industry for nearly 12 years, I can divide organizational delegation into 4 categories which might seem to have similarities but having slight differences.

Delegating tasks

Delegating tasks (in an organization which falls into the Information Technology domain, work can be named as software development, testing, support and so on) is stressful and not one person can handle all of it. And also, more often one team cannot handle all the disciplines. For example, if a new product is being developed then it can be separated into several modules that can be easily handled by multiple members or teams. For example, an enterprise web application written using any web development framework can be designed in a way that we can separate the database layer, business logic layer and presentation layer so that work can be delegated to each expert(s) as tasks. It is really important that in a startup, where we usually see some new products have been designed, we use software design that can enforce delegation of work. Otherwise the developers or teams can be overloaded. At my work place we really focused on the designing the skeleton of the product or project where we can easily delegate work to respective experts. Delegating tasks is the simplest and the first format of delegation in an IT organization.

Delegating responsibility

Delegating responsibility is also important when it comes to running an IT company. Not only for IT domain but also for all business domain, sharing and granting “responsibility” is important. As per my experience in the current organization, which can be considered as a stable small-scale organization after being incepted before 5 years ago, escalating responsibility is important in two aspects. The higher authority can focus on business while the subordinate or the parties who accept the responsibility from the higher authority can work in the business. In other words, the senior management can work on improving the business while the junior managers and team leads can work on in-progress projects.

Delegating ownership

Delegating ownership is a phenomenal factor when it comes to growing the confidence of the individuals. All types of institutes and organizations should look to improve the charisma of each individual member in-order to grow the business. Hence, they should own the work that they are engaged in. When doing that, automatically the mistakes and miscommunication will be decreased. When you delegate ownership, the receiver will either decline or accept. If the receiver accepts then he/she implies that he/she is ready to take the ownership of the work and he/she will try the level best to accomplish it. If the receiver rejects the offer then you will have an evaluation of the particular individual and go to another.

Delegating authority 

Delegating authority is distributing power to execute work. Board of Directors can delegate authority to their CEO to take care of the company's operation. The CEO can delegate the authority to General Manager to handle the daily operations of their company. General Manager can have several other unit managers or team leads to take care of the task level work. To get the tasks done with responsibility and ownership you need to have a proper delegation of authority. This is from my own experience.

Things to ponder in delegation

Delegation is not an easy phenomena by any means especially given the fact that a proper resources should be identified. You need to have a good plan, knowledge and strategy in delegating tasks, responsibility, ownership and authority [5]. As a person who is in charge of delegation I always use the best possible person to accept the delegation. If he or she is occupied with other task or obligation, then the next suitable person is chosen. If that person is also occupied, then I will wait for the best person to finish the on-going task or duty and then the required task or duty will be escalated to that person. We should always choose the right person at the right time for the right job (i.e. task, duty, responsibility, authority) When delegating tasks you need to have an idea about the deadlines, especially in firms into software development the deadlines means real obligations. Time is money. If you do not choose the best persons or teams for tasks then you will fail as a startup. Not only for startups but also for all sort of organizations, meeting original deadlines are important. 

In small-scale organizations the number of employees are less hence one person might handle several tasks and responsibilities. In that case delegating should be done in a smart way where the human resources don not get overloaded.

Case studies

The sample comprises Sri Lankan IT start-ups which has a less employee capacity (<25) and also a life span of more than 5 years (till 2019 May) (apart from the organization that I am employed at present where we really use effective delegation in our daily operations). And the response rate of them is 67 %.( to the questionnaire prepared). Depending on the responses the following charts have been drawn.

Fig1.Existence of hierarchical organizational structure

Fig.2 Illustration of clearly outlined job roles

Fig.3 Illustration of execution of chain of command within the organization

Fig.4 Illustration of employee desire of being delegated.


The pivotal motivation factor to conduct this research study is to emphasize that a Start-up in the Information Technology domain must have a firm delegation structure which aligns with the proposed organization structure in-order to prevail in the industry. Without the direction of responsibilities and ownership a start-up can head to a wrong direction. Delegating does not mean passing responsibilities or jobs to your subordinates and do nothing but handing over the respective duties to the relevant persons who have the capacity to tackle them and oversea with awareness. When effective delegation is not there a few employees or one team can be overloaded with tasks and solution deliveries can be delayed. In the IT industry it is important to keep the deadlines intact and deliver on time. In the simple research study, the challenge was to get responses from the heads of the IT start-ups that were reached by me. The survey was carried out via email. The persons who were contacted by me personally sent me the responses but those who were not reached by me in person did not send any response. Hence the response rate is pretty low.


As per the limited responses and my own exposure with current organization, which is a startup itself, it is clearly visible that effective delegation does make an influence towards success. And also, if there are clearly outlined job roles and chain of command hierarchical structure then the delegation is effective.

When delegating tasks, responsibility, ownership and authority an organization saves valuable time and resources. It tends to improve the work quality and individual performance. An organizational culture that entertains delegation grow significantly. More importantly, as per my personal experience, when there is effective delegation the internal politics of the organization will be decreased. Hence the preliminary suggestion is to have a clear delegation paths (together with the organizational chart) before you start an IT start-up.


  1. J. Muir, “Effective management through delegation,” Work Study, vol. 44, no. 7, pp. 6–7, 1995.
  2. “Effective Delegation,” Leadership and Development Tips. [Online]. Available:
  3. “6 Reasons Delegating is Good for Your Business,” Due, 03-Jan-2018. [Online]. Available:
  4. SLASSCOM, “Country Overview of The Start-up Ecosystem in Sri Lanka.”.
  5. “DELEGATION,” Reference for Business. [Online]. Available:

Fig.5. A practical organizational chart designed for IT Startups after the responses from the samples and personal experience


Eng. Tharindu Weerasinghe (also known as T.D.B Weerasinghe, D for Darshana and B for Bandara, which are rarely used) received his primary and secondary education at Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala, Sri Lanka and he received his first degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka in 2007. He received his masters degree in Information & Communication Engineering from the same university in 2012. Tharindu has an Executive Masters in Information Security from Asia e University, Malaysia, which was awarded in 2017.


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