Throughout the Guidebook, reference is made to specific roles that must be performed by stakeholders at various times throughout the project management lifecycle. Stakeholders are the people or groups that are in any way affected by the new product or service. Since the organization will rely on various stakeholders prior to developing a project plan (where roles and responsibilities are typically defined), it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities early in the process.

As you develop the project plan, you will determine the specific roles and responsibilities for stakeholders and team members in your project, which may vary from those identified below due to project size, scope, complexity, and the organizational structure of the agency/institution.

Customers and Users

The customers (or “users” of the product the project seeks to produce) comprise the business units that identified the need for the product or service the project will develop. Customers can be from any level of an organization, from executive director/president to entry-level clerk. Since it is frequently not feasible for all the customers to be directly involved in the project, the following roles are leveraged:

  • Customer representatives are members of the customer community who are identified and made available to the project for their subject matter expertise (sometimes called subject matter experts, or SMEs). Their responsibility is to accurately represent their business units’ needs to the project team, and to validate the deliverables that describe the product or service that the project will produce. Customer representatives are also expected to bring back to the customer community the information about the project. Toward the end of the project, customer representatives will test the product or service the project is developing, using and evaluating it while providing feedback to the project team.
  • Customer decision-makers are those members of the customer community who have been designated to make project decisions on behalf of major business units that will use, or will be affected by, the product or service the project will deliver. Customer decision-makers are members of the POM responsible for achieving consensus of their business unit on project issues and outputs, and communicating it to the project team. They attend project meetings as requested by the project manager, review and approve process deliverables, and provide subject matter expertise to the project team. On some projects, they may also serve as customer representatives.

Project Sponsor

The project sponsor has a demonstrable interest in the outcome of the project and is responsible for securing spending authority and resources for the project. Ideally, the project sponsor should have full authority to make all decisions necessary to assure completion of the project, including decisions to increase the project scope and budget.

The project sponsor initiates the project proposal process, champions the project in the performing organization, and is the ultimate decision-maker for the project. The project sponsor provides support for the project manager, approves major deliverables, and signs off on approvals to proceed to each succeeding project phase. The project sponsor may elect to delegate any of the above responsibilities to other personnel either on or outside the project team.

Executive Steering Committee

Depending on the size of the project, there may be an executive steering committee (ESC). In ND, any information technology project with a budget at or exceeding $250,000 must have an ESC (over $500,000 beginning Aug.1, 2013). In these instances the project sponsor’s authorities listed above are shared by a team of five committee members. Projects with budgets under $250,000 (under $500,000 beginning Aug. 1, 2013) are not required to have an ESC.

NOTE: Throughout this Guidebook, when the project sponsor is listed as a resource for a particular task, the Executive Steering Committee can be assumed as included (when used).

Large Project Office (LPO)

The LPO is a role within the ITD PMO that provides oversight and reporting of all information technology projects with budgets at or exceeding $250,000 ($500,000 beginning Aug. 1, 2013), as designated by NDCC 54-35-15.2, NDCC 54-59-05.7 & .8 and NDCC 54-59-23 and in accordance with STD009-05. (N.B.: The 63rd legislative assembly will be considering a bill draft to raise the threshold for what constitutes a large project to $500,000. If this legislation is enacted the Guidebook will be updated.)

Performing Organization

The performing organization management (POM) includes all members of the organization’s management team that may exert influence on project team members or be affected by and involved in the development and implementation of the product that is produced as a result of the project activities.

Project Management Office (PMO)

A project management office is a centralized entity that seeks to manage projects in a coordinated fashion. PMO responsibilities may include providing project management support functions, establishing project management methodologies, mentoring, monitoring compliance with standards and policies, managing shared resources, and providing project management staff for projects. An agency may have its own PMO. Alternately, ITD has a PMO that provides project management services.

Project Manager

The project manager is the person who is responsible for ensuring that the project team completes the project. The project manager develops the project plan with the team and monitors the team’s performance of project activities. It is also the responsibility of the project manager to secure acceptance and approval of deliverables from the project sponsor/ESC and stakeholders.

Project Team

The project team is the group that is responsible for planning and executing the project. It consists of a project manager and a variable number of project team members who are brought in to work on their activities as defined in the project schedule.

  • Project team members are responsible for executing tasks and producing deliverables as outlined in the project plan and directed by the project manager, at whatever level of effort or participation has been defined for them. On larger projects, some project team members may serve as project team leaders (see below).
  • Project team leaders, sometimes called business leads, technical team leads, or functional managers, have the same responsibilities as team members, but also assist the project manager in providing leadership for, and managing the team’s performance of, various activities.

NOTE: Throughout the Guidebook, when project team members are listed as a resource for a particular task, it should be assumed that project team leaders are included.

External Stakeholders 

  • Vendors are contracted to provide additional products or services the project will require and may be members of the project team.
  • Consumers include all the people that will use the product or service that the project is developing. Consumers internal to the performing organizations may also be Customers.
  • Additional stakeholders “external” to the project that may have an interest or influence over your efforts (don’t forget to think about these):
    • Other state agencies
    • Legislative committees
    • Technology or business user groups