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4 Key Project Management Roles & Responsibilities To Align With Strategy
Even the most perfectly managed project won’t be successful unless you have the right people on board. Learn who should be looped in, and who should be left out.
When it comes to strategic projects, who is just as important as what is involved. Even a project that’s perfectly organized and aligned with your strategy won’t be successful unless you have the right people on board. So, how do you know who should be looped in, and who should be left out? Pooling the knowledge gained from the hundreds of organizations we’ve worked with, here are the four most important strategic project management roles and responsibilities:
(Executive) Project Sponsor
The sponsor is someone who ideally sits at the executive level and is the project’s champion or advocate. This person wants to see high-level progress reports and receives updates regarding the team’s efforts to stay on track (or plans to course correct if delays or changes have impacted the project). The sponsor knows the number and type of resources needed for a project and could facilitate the addition of more resources if required.
As part of their project management responsibilities, the sponsor shares progress reports with the rest of the leadership team and ensures that the project is (and continues to be) aligned with the organization’s overall mission, vision, and goals. The sponsor is able to advocate for the project during a strategic discussion or communicate project changes as a result of decisions or budget adjustments at the leadership level.
The strategy manager is responsible for aligning projects with the organization’s strategic plan. This person acts as a “checks and balances,” confirming that each project has a clear purpose and reason for existing—in other words, that the work is worth the effort. The strategy manager prioritizes projects based on the organization’s goals and available resources. This person’s project management responsibilities also include preparing a high-level report for the leadership team. This report should provide important context about project details to ensure the project stays funded and supported.
The strategy manager acts like a portfolio manager for strategic projects. This person may sit in the project management office (PMO) of a larger organization or strategy office and be responsible for strategic projects, among other strategic activities, like measures and goals.
Learn exactly how a strategy manager can align projects with strategy in our Project Management Field Guide.
The project manager (PM) is the circus ringmaster, coordinating efforts and cueing resources with clockwork precision. More than anyone else, this role straddles the line between strategy and execution. This person creates the overall project plan and assigns roles to team members. They are also in charge of creating the RACI matrix, or other framework that clearly defines responsibilities and prioritizes actions.
The project manager (PM) is the circus ringmaster, coordinating efforts and cueing resources with clockwork precision. More than anyone else, this role straddles the line between strategy and execution. Click To Tweet
The PM has the important task of determining how the project will be tracked and measured—in particular, defining KPIs to track ROI, which is necessary to obtain resources from the leadership team. Managing the budget also falls on the PM’s plate, and this role reports on whether the project is financially on track or overspending. Generally, the PM manages risks and escalates issues to the executive leadership team as needed. This person usually determines the RAG status of a project as well.
The project team is populated by your subject matter experts—the people who will be doing the actual work. Team members can come from any department in the organization, and a properly staffed team can be assembled in a variety of ways. From IT managers and senior developers to operations coordinators and HR staff, the team’s composition depends on the type of project and its resource needs.
Each team member owns and executes different aspects (milestones or tasks) of the project. They also collect data and provide context from a “boots on the ground” perspective. The team’s combined efforts move the project forward, and their activities are reported on and rolled up to the project manager. The executive team likely won’t be updated on most of the project team’s work unless it directly ties to the strategic plan.
It’s critically important to have all these roles involved with your projects. A complete team will ensure the project runs efficiently on the ground and stays strategic at the highest level in the organization. Want to learn more about project management roles and responsibilities? Check out our resource library.