There are usually a number of people who are either directly involved in a project or who have a stake in its outcome. These people are called stakeholders. The key stakeholders in most projects are: Project Manager - The Project Manager is the head of the project. Project team member - Project team members produce the outputs, called deliverables, for the project.

They also participate in the project management process. Sponsor - The sponsor is the management person who acts as a liaison between the management team and the Project Manager. Project customer - This is the person or group that will accept the final deliverable(s) that the project produces.

The final deliverable is the final output and it is delivered to the project customer, whose needs and requirements are what drive the project. Resource managers - Resource managers, also known as functional managers, usually provide the resources, particularly the people who are involved in the project.

There may be other stakeholders as well, such as members of departments that will be impacted by the deliverables of the project. Let's examine each of the key stakeholder roles in more detail, beginning with the Project Manager role . The Project Manager Role The Project Manager is also referred to as the project manager. However, in a participative approach, the main role for the project manager is leadership, so we refer to him or her as a Project Manager.

The role of the project manager is to:

  • Provide direction to the project team.
  • Lead the project team through the project management process (creating and executing the project plan).
  • Obtain approvals for the project plan.
  • Maintain the project schedule using a tool like Seavus Project Viewer in conjunction with MS Project.
  • Issue status reports on the progress of the project versus the plan.
  • Respond to requests for changes to the plan.
  • Facilitate the team process, which is the interpersonal process by which team members develop as a team.
  • Remove obstacles for the team so they can complete the project.
  • Act as the key interface with the project sponsor.
  • Act as the key interface with the project customer.
  • Act as the key point of all communication on the project.
  • Call and run team meetings.
  • Issue the final project report.

The essential role of the Project Manager is to lead the project team through the project management and team processes so that they complete the project successfully. The Project Manager is accountable for the overall success of the project. In part 2, we will look at the roles of the Project Team Member and the Project Sponsor. Project Team Member Role The project team member sits on the project team and is critical to the success of the project.

The project team member's role is to:

  • Provide technical expertise.
  • Provide ideas that can help the team create quality deliverables, on time and within budget.
  • Ensure that his or her part of the project work gets completed on time.
  • Communicate issues back to the project team.
  • Participate in the project planning process.
  • Interface with the suppliers for his or her area.
  • Keep the boss informed on project issues, as required.
  • Keep the commitment he or she makes to the project.
  • Help to keep the project on track using different kind of collaborative tools.
  • Provide updates to his or her resource manager on the status of the project.
  • Help to keep the team process and content on track.

Project Sponsor Role The sponsor is someone from management who has been designated to oversee the project, to help ensure that it satisfies both the needs of the customer and the needs of the organization. The sponsor is sometimes called the project champion.

The role of the project sponsor is to:

  • Initiate the project by selecting a Project Manager.
  • Make sure that the project's objectives are in line with the strategic direction/goals of the organization.
  • Provide overall direction to the project.
  • Make sure the team has the resources required to complete the project successfully.
  • Obtain commitment from the resource managers to support the project.
  • Review and approve the project plan.
  • Review status reports.
  • Review progress on the project with the Project Manager.
  • Help to remove obstacles that can't be overcome by the team or the Project Manager.
  • Mentor or coach the Project Manager.
  • Review and approve the final report.

The sponsor makes sure that the Project Manager has the resources, training, support, and cooperation he or she needs to get the job done. The sponsor is accountable for the success of the Project Manager. What happens if you don't have a sponsor? Then your boss or the project customer, if that customer is inside the organization, will need to act as the sponsor. The sponsor connects the project to the needs of management. It's very risky to start a project without one. 

The project customer is the recipient of the main output of the project, called the final deliverable. In order to make sure the final deliverables satisfies the customer, the customer must convey to the project team what the needs and requirements for the deliverable will be.

A customer can be internal or external to the organization. Many projects are done for internal customers (customers inside the organization), although the final deliverable produced by the project might eventually be distributed to or purchased by an external customer. Suppose you were working on a project to develop a new heart monitor for infants. The project customer is probably your marketing department because it's their job to sell the monitor to the eventual buyers, the hospitals. The patients who would be hooked up to the heart monitor would be considered end users of the heart monitor product. (An end user is the ultimate consumer of the product.)

While many projects are performed for internal customers - these internal customers are then often representing the needs of customers and end users outside the organization.

However, some projects are done directly for an external customer. In these cases, the customer usually pays for the final deliverable directly. An example would be a project in a consulting firm to develop a customized piece of software for an external customer. The external customer would pay based on time and materials or as a flat fee for the project. Whether the customer is internal or external, there are certain similarities in the role they must play within the project:

  • Provide the project team with a clear picture of their needs and requirements
  • Review and approve the charter
  • Participate on the project team where appropriate
  • Inform the Project Manager of any changes in the environment that would affect the project deliverables
  • Approve changes to the project when needed to make the project a success
  • Review project status reports
  • Provide feedback to the Project Manager on a regular basis
  • Evaluate the final deliverables as well as the project process

There are some additional roles that internal customers typically perform:

  • Review and approve the entire project plan (External customers usually review only the scope section of the plan)
  • Review the final status report

If you have a project with an external customer, it is imperative to have an internal sponsor working on the project. The internal sponsor's job is to balance the needs of the external customer with the needs of the internal organization. If your project has an internal customer, the internal customer may double as the project sponsor.

Resource or Functional Manager Role The resource or functional manager is usually the overseer of the resources (primarily people) that you'll need to do the project. The people who work on the project report to the resource manager and they are then assigned to the project on either a full or, more often, a part-time basis. It is a challenge of the Project Manager to gain the cooperation and commitment of these people who do not report to him or her. That challenge is met most easily by using a participative project management approach.

The role of the resource manager or functional manager is to:

  • Provide people to be project team members.
  • Review and approve the project plan for their areas.
  • May have access to or periodically review the project schedule
  • Provide direction, as required, to the team member who represents the resource department.
  • Make sure the people working on the project from the department have the appropriate level of skill and expertise to do the work.
  • Make sure team members are provided with the time to complete the project, as defined in the approved project plan.
  • Remove obstacles for the project team.

A project runs smoothly if everyone performs his or her role. Nevertheless, it is primarily the job of the Project Manager, with the help of the sponsor, to ensure these roles are fulfilled. Roles vary depending on the phase that the project is in. Let's examine the eight phases of the project planning process.