As we’ve seen in our last two blogs, overarching responsibility for project success is held by the Project Board. Chairing the project board is the Customer (or Executive). The other members of the Project Board assist the customer in this objective. I discuss the more specific role of one of these – the Senior User – in this blog post.
Who is the Senior User?
The Senior User is the representative of every person who will use the products of the project. This includes operations and maintenance. The users are all those for whom the project is designed, or who will use the project’s products to deliver expected benefits (to other people, departments, customers, etc.). There can be more than one Senior User, though the adage that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ should be observed.
What are the Senior User’s main responsibilities?
The main responsibilities of the Senior user are:
- Specifying the needs of all users
- Liaising with the project team on behalf of the users
- Monitoring that the project’s products will meet the needs
Specifically, the Senior user should ensure that the objectives of quality, functionality, and ease-of-use are met within the constraints of the business case.
To achieve these objectives, the Senior User will use their own resources. Performance is measured against pre-set requirements.
The Senior User’s commitment is unlikely to end when the project is signed off. There is an onus on the Senior User to demonstrate that the forecast benefits (those that led to the project being approved) have been achieved. This could be some time after the project end-date.
The Senior User’s individual responsibilities
As a member of the Project Board, the Senior User has a collective responsibility for project success. However, the Senior User also has the following additional responsibilities:
- Define criteria for acceptance of the project’s products
- Ensure the desired outcomes are specified in detail
- Ensure that the project’s products deliver those outcomes and that the benefits are realised
- Produce a statement of actual vs. forecast benefits
- Resolve conflicts between priorities and requirements
- Ensure that resources from users are made available when required
- Take decisions on escalated issues, in line with forecast benefits
- Brief user management on project matters
- Maintain business performance during transitionary periods
- Take part in and make recommendations for follow on actions
- Conduct project assurance from the user perspective
The Senior User has a key role to play in PRINCE2 projects. Without user buy-in, it is doubtful that any project will realise its forecast benefits. Users are also ‘at the coalface’ and can have a tremendous input which increases viability of project products.
In the next part of this series of blogs discussing the roles and responsibilities in PRINCE2 projects, we’ll examine the role of the Senior Supplier, the last position on the Project Board.
In the meantime, if you need advice or assistance with your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us: