All projects have people that perform different roles and
responsibilities. On small projects, understanding the roles is pretty easy.
There’s a project management, sponsor, and project team.
As your project gets larger, however, there is generally
more confusion about who is in each role. You also need more specialty roles in
order to focus on certain areas of responsibility. Not understanding who is in
what roles is a major headache for larger projects. One of the important
responsibilities of the project manager is make sure you know who is fulfilling
these roles on your project. This column describes some of the common roles on
These are the people (or groups) that are the direct beneficiaries of the
products (or deliverables) that the project produces. They are the people for
whom the project is being undertaken. In some organizations these people are
This is the person who is the functional manager of the project manager. However,
this role recognizes that in most organizations, the project manager is not
totally responsible for a project. Typically, the functional manager of the
project manager has a role to play as well. This role includes helping to
provide resources, helping resolve difficult issues, dealing with organizational
This is the person with authority to manage a project. This includes leading
the planning and the development of all project deliverables. The project
manager is responsible for managing the budget, workplan,
and all Project Management Procedures.
Team. The project team consists of the full-time and part-time
resources assigned to work on the deliverables of the project. They are
responsible for understanding the work to be completed and completing assigned
work within the budget, timeline, and quality expectations.
Sponsor and Project Sponsor). The sponsor is the person who has ultimate
authority over the project. The Executive Sponsor provides project funding,
resolves issues and scope changes, approves major deliverables, and provides
high-level direction. He or she also champions the project within his or her organization.
Depending on the project, and the organizational level of the Executive
Sponsor, he or she may delegate day-to-day tactical management to a Project
Sponsor. If assigned, the Project Sponsor represents the Executive Sponsor on a
day-to-day basis and makes most of the decisions requiring sponsor approval. While
the project manager is responsible for the success of the project execution,
the sponsor is responsible for delivering business benefit to the organization.
These are the specific person or people with a stake, or an interest, in the
outcome of the project. Normally stakeholders are from within the company and
could include internal clients, management, employees, administrators, etc. A
project may also have external stakeholders, including suppliers, investors, constituents,
community groups and government organizations.
These are the people who will actually use the deliverables of the project.
Sometimes these people are also involved heavily in the project in activities
such as defining business requirements and being involved in the testing process.