A project is never a one-man effort. It requires high level and strategic coordination to ensure its success. Most people attribute the success of a project to the project manager, which isn’t true in most cases. There are a lot of other people involved in a project’s lifecycle with each of these people playing a key role to ensure a project’s success.
Here are some of the most important people and their roles within a project.
1. Project Manager
No project is complete without the project manager being mentioned. The project manager is one of the most important people on a project if not the most important. In most projects, depending on the overall structure of the organization, project managers are responsible for every aspect of a project and essentially play the lead role in the project, monitoring things like planning, executing, controlling, and closing on a project. Their role is an active one and will require them to be on site on a day-to-day basis to manage, review and set priorities for the teams working on the project.
Besides the above, other essential roles played by the project manager includes reporting, conflict management and resolution and most importantly, communication. To make their work simpler and efficient, project managers typically work with Software like MS Project and most recently Asana and Trello to streamline their work processes especially when using the Agile Method of Project Management.
2. The Client
A project cannot exists without the client needing the project to be done. Besides the project manager, the client is the second most important person in any project. The client is the person responsible for funding the project as in most cases; the project will be for them. Sometimes a project can be done internally within an organization by employees of that organization. In such a situation, the organization itself would be the client of the project.
Depending on the scope of a project, some project will see the need to employ a dedicated project manager who will be responsible for evaluating and monitoring the progress of a project typically from the client side. The role of a client in a project includes approving project plans, requesting changes, and raising issues as well as risks.
3. Resource Manager
Depending on the project type, a project’s success is hinged on the number of resources allocated to it. The resources can include anything from people and money to materials and equipment. On smaller projects with smaller budgets and manpower, the Project Manager can double as the resource manager without many complications.
However, the situation differs for larger projects with six or seven figure budgets. On such large projects, the Project’s Resource Manager will largely be responsible for managing the resource pools assignable to the project. Normally, the resource manager will act as the project manager’s right-hand man coordinating the flow of resources in the form of people, money, and material to where they are needed as the project progresses.
In some cases, resource adjustments would have to be done, and it is the role of the resource manager to plan and communicate the adjustments to the project managers who then has to go to the client for approval.
4. Team Leaders
In Software Development Projects, teams are often separated with each team working on a specific task on the project. To work more efficiently, a team leader is assigned to each group. The team leader will directly report to the Project Manager who will be coordinating work among the various teams.
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The team leader is important as he gets to directly influence the morale of the people getting their hands dirty in the project. This is why it is important for the team leader to possess some key qualities including Initiative, Modelling, Negotiating, Coaching, and Listening. The team leader must be a player himself; being able to do a share of the work, other team members will be doing as this helps him gain the respect of the other team members engaged in the project.
5. Team Members
Team Members are right at the center of the project. No project can ever succeed without the active involvement and participation of the team members. In a typical software development project, team members are the developers working 10 hrs. a day staring at their screens to write the code that will make the software tick. In construction, the team members will be the bricklayers, the machinery operators, and any other people who are at the heart of the project’s activities.
Other two key roles are the business and systems analyst who are responsible for gathering systems requirements and designing the system architecture respectively. It is almost impossible to get any project going without these two roles being involved in some way.
From this, I’m sure you can get an appreciation of how important the team members are to any project.
One thing that’s needed for team members are the skills. Unlike the other roles stated above that demand managerial skills above all else, team members must obtain and acquire a different set of specific skills which may be technical, problem-solving, interpersonal and organizational in nature.
Of course, some projects will lean more towards technical skills but that doesn’t make the other skills less important as the team members will often be required to work together and collaborate whilst working on a project.
6. The Requester
The Requester is typically a salesperson working within a project. Each Project has what may be referred to as the project lifecycle. The requester is the person who is assigned the responsibility of managing that lifecycle. The requester works together with the manager. Sometimes, especially on large-scale projects, the project teams through the project manager will have to request changes on either the scope or allocations of the project.
These requests will have to be approved by a client. The requester’s job will be to monitor the requests from the various teams and communicate the requests to the various channels and let the teams know on approval. Why is this role important? There are some large-scale projects where conditions change on a daily basis necessitating requests. These requests have to be managed and they can go anywhere from between 10’s to 100’s a month such that is the project manager is to work on the requests, they would be distracted from their core functions and duties.
7. The Stakeholder(s)
Stakeholders are not necessarily the owner of the project. Stakeholders are people who may be affected by the outcomes of the project either directly or indirectly. For example, if a construction company is contracted by a University to Construct a New Student Hostel, although the students are not the owners of the project, they are stakeholders as they are the ones who will have to live in the hostel, which makes their concerns key.
Although it’s not a strict requirement when working on a project, the stakeholders must be contacted and communicated with from time to time to get their opinions and thoughts on each stage of the project. This, in turn, helps to minimize associated risks on the project.
8. The Project Sponsor
Sometimes, the owner of a Project can be different from the funder. This is true for most charity-based projects as they have a funder who is different from the owner. In such projects, the funding partner is referred to as the Project Sponsor. The role played by the sponsor in a project will differ largely depending on the sponsor. There are some sponsors who prefer to just fund the project and let the owners take care of the rest and some who like to play an active role to make sure that their funds are put to good use within the project.
One major role of the project sponsor is to authorize the project. They are the one who will sign the project charter giving the green light on the project, which moves the various teams into position to begin work on the project.
9. The Steering Committee
This is not a singular role but still important nevertheless. The steering committee is a committee that involves everyone including the Project Manager, Stakeholder Representatives, and the Sponsor. The Steering Committee is the equivalent of a Corporate Board of Directors. The role of this committee is to review the project status and set the Strategic Direction of the Project for the Project Manager and his various teams. In some situations, the steering committee is the highest body in an organization, is responsible for approving all the requests, and changes to the project.
10. Communications Director
This role is important for projects of National Interest. The Communications Director is often referred to as the Project Spokesperson. Their role is essentially to communicate with the outside world and the media on any issues arising within the project. They also coordinate the marketing and publicity efforts of a project informing people on the benefits of the project.
As we had said in the introduction, a project is not a one-man effort; it requires the highest possible level of coordination among the various entities and stakeholders to make it successful.