Organization roles

Every project has a number of key people, who have key roles to play. Each of these role players has specific responsibilities, which if carried out in their prescribed manner, will ensure a successful project. The following list gives the some examples of these organizational roles:

• Project sponsor

• Programme manager

• Project manager

• Project planning manager or project planner

• Cost manager or cost control manager

• Procurement manager

• Configuration manager

• Quality manager

• Project board or steering committee

• Project support office.

In practice, the need for some of these roles depends on the size and complexity of the project and the organizational structure of the company or authority carrying out the project. For example, a small organization carrying out only two or three small projects a year may not require, or indeed be able to afford, many of these roles. Having received the commission from the client, a good project manager supported by a planner and procurement manager and established well-documented quality control and risk procedures may well be able to deliver the specified requirements.

The detailed descriptions of the above roles are given in the relevant sections dealing with each topic, but the last two roles warrant some further discussion.

A project board or steering committee is sometimes set up for large projects to act as a supervising authority and, sometimes as champion, during the life cycle of the project. Its job is to ensure that the interests of the sponsoring organization (or client) are protected and that the project is run and delivered to meet the requirements of these organizations. The project board appoints the project manager who has to report to it on a regular basis and from whom he/she has to obtain authority to proceed after certain predetermined stages have been reached.

National or local government projects following the PRINCE methodology frequently have a project board, as the project may affect a number of different departments who are all stakeholders to a greater or lesser extent. The board is thus usually constituted from senior managers (or directors) of the departments most closely involved in the project. A project board may also be desirable where the client consists of a number of companies who are temporary partners in a special consortium set up to deliver the project. A typical example is a consortium of a number of oil producers who each have a share in a refinery, drilling platform or pipeline either during the construction or operating phase, or both.

Ideally, the board should only be consulted or be required to make decisions on major issues, as unnecessary interference with the normal running of a project will undermine the authority of the project manager. However, there may be instances where fundamental disagreements or differences of interest between functional departments or stakeholders require to be discussed and resolved and it is in such situations that the project board can play a useful role.

The project support office briefly described in Chapter 2 is only required on large projects, where it is desirable to service all the project administration and project technology by a central department or office, supervised by a service manager. The functions most usually carried out by the project support office are the preparation and updating of the project schedule (programme) collection and processing of time sheets, progress reports, project costs and quality reports, operating configuration management and controlling the dissemination of specifications, drawings, schedules and other data.

The project support office is in fact the secretariat of the project and its size and constitution will therefore depend on the size of the project, its technical complexity and its administrative procedures and reporting requirements. The last mentioned can be very onerous where the client organization is a consortium of companies each of which requires its own reporting procedures, cost reports and timetable for submission.

Ideally the accounting system for the project should be self-contained and independent of the corporate accounting system. Clearly a monthly cost report will have to be submitted to the organization's accounts department, but project accounting will give speedier and more accurate cost information to the project manager, which will enable him/her to take appropriate action before the costs spiral out of control. The project support office can play a vital role in this accounting function provided that the office staff includes the project accountants. These accountants do not only control the direct costs such as labour, materials, equipment and plant but also those indirect costs and expenses related to the project.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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