Who Really Owns This Project?

By Enabliser Mark

You’re about to implement a new project and your supplier assures you that they are very experienced in the art of Project Management and everything will go well. From this statement it would be quite logical to assume that everything is under control and your project is just going to happen. But who really is responsible for the project outcomes and benefits?

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts in Project Management is that the Project Manager owns the project.

Whilst it is true that the Project Manager owns the day to day running of the project and has a number of obligations in relation to Resource Management, Risk Management, Quality Management etc ultimately they are not responsible for the overall success or failure of the project.

So who is responsible? In my experience the best run projects have a very clear delineation between the day to day management of a project and the ownership of the project by an executive board. Even within that board not all members are created equal. One individual has to take overall responsibility for the successful outcome of the project.

Typically an Executive Board comprise is small number participants who represent the key stakeholders within the project. In an IT systems implementation this could be a senior representative of the supplier of the system, a key representative of the Users of the system and a Chairman who is a senior Business Owner and represents the overall Business view. It is important that these members of the executive have sufficient authority to ensure that when decisions are to be made they are in a position to provide appropriate input and authorise the Project Manager to take appropriate action. It should be noted that this does not imply that the Executive Board need to have detailed technical insight into all aspects of the project. They can call on specialist resources from time to time to perform Assurance roles as need be.

So what kind of activities would the board make decisions on?

Part of any project is reviewing the ongoing progress of the project against its plan in terms of time to budget, deliverable created to date etc. In addition as projects events occur that are outside the allowable tolerances set at the start of a project, or are new risks or issues to the project achieving its objective in terms of Scope, Quality, Time and Budget. When one of these events occur they will in any project, It is the boards responsibility to evaluate the event and recommended approach to resolution from the Project Manager. Then having considered the options available and the impact the project objectives and the business as a whole, to authorise the appropriate action be undertaken. Note that in some instances the most appropriate action may be to close the project prematurely. So the Executive Board has a vital role in directing and managing the project as it proceeds and to ensure the project outcomes are realised.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.  Project management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of the 42 logically grouped project management processes comprising the 5 process groups.  The 5 process groups are:

  • Initiating,
  • Planning,
  • Executing,
  • Monitoring and Controlling, and
  • Closing.

To read more about Project Management, see A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition or speak to one of Enabling’s certified PMI Consultants


Add new comment