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Virginia H. Evans

Virginia H. Evans





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P.O. Box 400217
Suite 116
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4217

Arlene Buynak

IT Project Management Office

Responsibilities by Role

Sponsor Responsibilities

The sponsor plays a significant role on a project. The basic definition of a "sponsor" has to do with providing/finding financial resources for the project, but their role is typically much larger. Studies have shown projects with actively involved sponsors are much more successful. The sponsor's and the project manager's relationship should be a partnership as they will work very closely together throughout the project. In some projects, the role of the sponsor may be held by a steering committee. Depending on the complexity of the project, the role of the sponsor may include some or all of the responsibilities listed below. There may be other responsibilities not listed here.

  • Initiation
    • Should provide clear direction for the project and how it fits into the overall organizational strategy or strategic goals.
    • Is consulted on decisions by the project manager.
    • Provide high-level requirements that must be met.
    • Is a project stakeholder.
    • Should provide information for the preliminary scope statement.
    • May request milestones, key events or project end date.
    • Should be involved with the project charter development.
    • Contribute to the priority discussion around the "triple constraint" components.
    • Secure project resources (money, functional people, contractors, etc.). This can involve budget allocation responsibility or providing/finding funding.
    • Provide political support by championing the project to secure high-level buy-in and advocate for the project to all parties.
    • Provide project objectives.
  • Project Planning
    • Supply list of risks.
    • Determine the communications (for example, reports, emails, meetings, etc.) needed by management to oversee the project.
    • Encourage the finalization of requirements and scope by the stakeholders. Sometimes, the sponsor has to take diverse and, in some cases, competing stakeholder interest/views and help negotiate a common solution all stakeholders can support and agree upon.
    • Provide expert judgment.
    • Help develop the scope statement.
    • Approve the final project plan.
  • Execution, monitoring, control
    • Ensure the project is on time, on budget, on scope
    • Approve changes to the project charter
    • Protect the project from outside influences and changes
    • Ensure good quality product or services
    • Provide expert judgment
    • Help evaluate trade-offs when adjusting the schedule, scope, time issues
    • Approve or reject changes or authorize a change management board
    • Help clarify scope questions
    • Provide feedback on status reports and make sure they reach all the stakeholders
    • Provide input for issues management
    • Provide input for risk management
  • Closing
    • Signs off on project completion (may be in electronic format).
    • Advocate for the collection of historical records from the project – lessons learned, etc.

    General thoughts about the sponsor and project manager relationship:

    • Sponsors are NOT the project manager. The sponsor must let the project manager manage the project. The sponsor should help establish an environment that allows the project manager to do just that.
    • The relationship between the project manager and the sponsor is crucial.
    • Both sides should communicate openly and honestly. The best "rule of thumb" is no surprises from either party.
    • Both sides should be flexible with change and be willing to demonstrate different viable approaches or options to problem resolution.
    • Both sides should respect commitments and promises.
    • The project manager should update the sponsor with the latest project information.
    • The project manager and the sponsor should work together to develop a robust communications plan.
    • Sponsors should always be trying to create a positive buzz about their projects.

    Stakeholder Responsibilities

    A stakeholder is anyone who is involved with or impacted by the project. Stakeholders may be internal to the project organization or external to the project organization. Examples of stakeholders are the project manager, the sponsor, team members, functional unit representatives, or users of the application or service.

    Stakeholders may have a wide variety of responsibilities. Stakeholders could have any or all of the responsibilities listed below. There may be other responsibilities not listed here.

    • Might be involved in the creation of the Project Charter.
    • Might be involved in the scope statement development.
    • Might be involved in the Project Plan development.
    • Might be involved in the Project Change Management.
    • Might need to verify the product meets the requirements.
    • Might help identify constraints.
    • Might be involved with the communications aspect of the project. For example, if you are representing a unit, it could be your responsibility to communicate project information with your unit.

    Project Team Member Responsibilities

    A project team is an organized group of people involved in performing tasks for a project to produce a unique product or service. The responsibilities of project team members will vary based on the complexity of the project. Below are some basic project team member responsibilities. There may be other responsibilities not listed here.

    • A thorough understanding of the project work assigned to you. This may be accomplished by helping with the requirements definition.
    • Appropriate planning for all of your assigned tasks.
    • Documenting and understanding the current and future processes/systems.
    • Understanding the data involved in this project.
    • Performing your tasks within the budget, timeline, and quality expectations.
    • Reporting on issues, changes, risks, and quality issues to the project manager.
    • Communicating the status of your tasks.
    • Working well with the other team members.