Who’s who in your project?

March 5th, 2017

Project Manager; Project Sponsor; Stakeholders; Project Board – who are all these people?

In many projects, the person leading is “obvious” – it’s the Head of Department that’s changing something about they way that department works, let’s call that the final product. If they’re a senior person, they’ll be the Project Sponsor, with a Project Manager running the project itself. In some functions, the senior person in the function is the Manager, with a senior-level Partner being the Project Sponsor.

Project Sponsor

Many people will have some idea of the role of the Project Manager, however, the Project Sponsor role may be less well-defined. It sounds so “big business” and, in many professional services firms, this may be a new concept. The Project Sponsor is the person who gives the project senior-level backing and leads the communications. The communications between all the different people working on the project might seem obvious, although it can be a challenge where you have a number of related tasks and teams of people working in different places and to different timescales.


However, the communications need to go wider than the team “doing” the project work, those groups of people are the stakeholders. These are the groups who are impacted by the project work while it’s happening, as well as the final product of the project. For example, a project covering a key support function across the business, the stakeholder groups could be:

  • the partners
  • the users in the department putting in the new system
  • staff
    • for some projects, this may be split into direct fee-earning and indirect staff
    • different departments which have different uses for the final product
  • suppliers involved in the new system and processes
  • training and IT support as relevant to the new product
  • customers
  • suppliers
  • other external parties

By dividing them into different groups, you are be able to tailor the communications to them and make sure that all different aspects are included.

Project Board

Whilst the decision-making processes within your firm will cover all aspects of the business, for significant projects, it will be important to setup a separate Project Board including at least the Project Sponsor, the Project Manager, a Supplier, a User representative. Ideally, the Board would be maximum of 6 people, although this will vary depending on the nature of the project. For projects of significant scale, the Finances and IT will be constantly under discussion, so likely to be included in the Board.

The key requirement of the Board is to oversee the project’s progress, ensure key deadlines, usually known as milestones, are met and that decisions affecting the final delivery of the project are taken as early as possible. The Board needs to be able to absorb key information and make decisions sometimes within short timescales.

How we help

When setting up your project, we can work with you to ensure everyone is clear on who fulfils the various roles, what is required of each role and how the various teams of people involved in all aspects of the project will co-ordinate and work together. We can help you clarify the goals and milestones throughout the project and the key indicators across all aspects of the project and identify key communication points, including reports for the sponsor and board. Please contact Sue for more information.

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