PRINCE2 – Who is responsible for what project function?

The third principle of PRINCE2 is that of having clearly defined roles, each with clearly defined responsibilities. These roles should ensure that all stakeholders, users, and the business is engaged in the project.

One problem with the majority of projects is that they are often cross-functional. Access to resources and personnel are often required by a number of stakeholders. PRINCE2 creates a structure that, by design, segregates project management into explicit roles that enable cross-functional access on an organised basis. Responsibilities are defined, and this should eliminate confusion and duplication of efforts, while enabling effective communication between all parties.

What is a PRINCE2 defined role?

PRINCE2 doesn’t define jobs, but rather roles. These roles might be undertaken by one person or a group of people. Similarly, one person could be responsible for more than one role.

When filling the roles, you’ll need to put the right people in the right place: square pegs for square holes, if you like. You’ll need to take into account several factors, including the person’s:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Commitment
  • Availability
  • Credibility
  • Authority

Within PRINCE2 there are four levels of roles and responsibilities. The first of these is corporate or programme management. This team will be responsible for the project mandate and naming the project executive as well as defining the project itself.

The Project Management Team

The Project Management Team itself comprises three roles:

  • Project board
  • Project manager
  • Team members

The three primary interests that help define roles and responsibilities are the business, the user, and the supplier:

  • The business defines the business case.
  • The user is who will eventually use the outputs of the project to create the benefits expected.
  • The supplier is the one that supplies the resources and skills to produce the project’s outputs.

The Project Board

The Project Board provides the direction for the project and is ultimately responsible for its success. It also has responsibility for providing resources and authorising funding, as well as delegating for effective project completion. It is also responsible for seeing that the project meets the requirements of the business case.

The Project Manager

The Project Manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the project, delegating responsibilities to team managers or specialist team members.

Team members

Team members are responsible for delivering to required quality, within time, and on budget.

Other roles and responsibilities

There will be several roles and responsibilities on the Project Board. These include:

  • The Senior User representing the people or teams that will be the end users of the product or service delivered by the project. He or she also represents the people who will be otherwise impacted by the project. As such, this role may be occupied by more than one person (especially if there is another funding organisation).
  • The Senior Supplier is the person who represents the suppliers of services and products to the project. This position could be filled by either an in-house or external representative – or perhaps both – and must have the power to commit resources to the project.
  • Project assurance roles are independent of the project manager, but will offer guidance and support to the project manager.

The Project Board will also include the Project Owner, who focuses on the business strategic outcomes required and on delivery of the project objectives. It should also include a Project Director, who has ultimate responsibility to drive the project forward for the Project Owner.

What project managers don’t do

Within the PRINCE2 structure, it is also important to understand what the Project Manager does not do. The Project Manager does not:

  • Establish the budget
  • Establish project tolerances
  • Decide what the customer wants
  • Take responsibility for deciding if major changes to the project specifications are required

As you can see, PRINCE2 provides a clear structure of roles and responsibilities. When you initiate a project, ensure that you fill these roles effectively and that your people fully understand their responsibilities. Do this, and the project should be well managed throughout its lifecycle.

In my next article, I’ll examine project progression under PRINCE2.

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