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In some cases, the task of defining the Project Organization and Roles and Responsibilities is rushed and other activities, such as starting to develop the products ASAP, are seen as more important. As a Project Manager, you depend on other people to make decisions, to provide you with information, and to carry out activities. Therefore, it is important to get this on paper and agreed on; otherwise you might find yourself chasing ghosts during the project.

One of the first tasks a Project Manager should do on a project is to get a good idea of who is who in the organization and their roles and responsibilities. Start with the Executive, who might even need to be reminded that they are responsible for the project, not the Project Manager.

The management might put pressure on the Project Manager to start producing products ASAP, as they want to start using or selling the products that will be produced by the project and they are unaware of the importance of what happens in the Starting Up a Project and Initiating a Project processes. The Project Manager can use some of the following ideas to help document the project organization:

  • Look at Roles & Responsibilities profiles in similar projects in the organization.
  • Meet with the Executive to discuss their responsibilities, and design the Project Board.
  • Prepare a workshop-type meeting with the Project Board and use the knowledge in this Theme to define the most appropriate questions to ask (e.g., How should communication be done during the project? and Who is responsible for defining the benefits?).
  • Confirm that each person has the necessary authority, knowledge and availability, and agree (in writing) on their roles and responsibilities.

The Organization knowledge provided by PRINCE2

The purpose of the knowledge in this Theme is to help define and establish the project's structure of accountability and responsibilities; in other words, identify the “Who” of the project.

A PRINCE2 project is based on a customer/supplier environment. One party is the customer, who will specify the results and most likely pay for the project, and the other party is the supplier, who will provide the resources, do the work, and deliver the required products.

What do you think makes a successful project team? PRINCE2 states that a successful project team should:

  • Have Business, User and Supplier representations.
  • Have defined responsibilities for directing, managing, and delivering the project.
  • Have regular reviews of the project to check that all is on track.
  • Have an effective strategy to manage communication flows to and from stakeholders.

In summary, each project needs to have direction, management, control, and communication.

The Organization Theme provides the knowledge to help define and establish the project’s structure of accountability and responsibilities

Organization Definitions


A common definition of a Project is: “a designated set of tasks needed to accomplish a particular goal.” PRINCE2 defines a project as: “a temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case”.


A Programme is a temporary flexible organization structure created to coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organization's strategic objectives.

For example, a company might create a Programme to implement Six Sigma in each department and country in an organization. The strategic objective here is to improve quality by x% using Six Sigma. The Program may launch many different projects to achieve this, which could be per department or country, and all will be controlled by the Program.

Corporate Organization

A Project can be part of a Program. If it is outside a Program, we say that the project exists in the company organization, as some companies may not have a Program environment setup. PRINCE2 uses the term Corporate Organization to refer to the organization leadership.

Roles and Jobs Definitions

PRINCE2 places project responsibilities into roles, not persons. These roles can then be assigned to persons. In this way, one person can have more than one role. For example, in large projects, the Project Support role can be assigned to one or more persons. In small projects, the roles of Project Manager and Project Support can be assigned to the same person.


A stakeholder is any person or group that can be affected by the project or have an effect on the project. This includes the Project Board and the Project Team, the potential users, others that may benefit (shareholders), as well as those who may be negatively affected.

Three Project Interests

A PRINCE2 project should always have three primary categories of stakeholders (three primary stakeholders), and these also have to be represented in the Project Board. These are Business, User and Supplier.

Three Project Interests

Business Interests

The Executive role on the Project Board looks after the Business interests. There must be a Business Case; otherwise the project cannot (should not) start. They keep asking the question: “Is this project value for money?”

User Interests

Users benefit from the delivered products, as they will use the products. Users can also operate, maintain or support the projects outputs. Users need to be represented on the Project Board to make sure that the correct products are produced and to the agreed quality level. The Senior User role will represent the User interests on the Project Board.

Supplier Interests

The Supplier provides the resources and the skills to create the products. In an organization, this could be either internal or external. For example, an internal IT department or external IT company. The Supplier interests are represented on the Project Board by the Senior Supplier role.

Customer/Supplier Environment

The term customer is a collective term, which can incorporate the user and business interests on some projects (here the users are internal to the organization that is paying for the project).

E.g. Sales Department wants to have a new sales application.

The term customer can refer to just the user interests and the supplier will incorporate the business and supplier interests (here the users are usually external to the organization that is paying for the project)

E.g. a magazine company creates a new online news service for clients.

The four levels of a project organization

It is important that you understand the difference between the Project Management structure (project organization) and Project Management Team. The Project Management structure has 4 levels and the Project Management Team has 3 levels.

The 4 levels of a Project Management structure/project organization are:

  • Corporate or Program Management Level
  • Direction Level
  • Managing Level
  • Delivery Level

Note: The Corporate or Program Management level sits outside the Project Management Team.

The four levels of a project organization

Level: Corporate or Program Management Level

This level is responsible for commissioning the project and identifying the Executive. They decide at the start of the project how the Project Board will keep them updated during the project and will also define the project tolerances that the Project Board will work within.

Level: Directing (Project Board)

The Project Board is responsible for directing the project and is accountable for the success of the project. They do the following:

  • Approve all resources and major plans, e.g., Project Plan, Stage Plans.
  • Authorize any deviation if tolerances are forecasted to or have exceeded.
  • Approve the completion of each stage and authorize each new stage.
  • Communicate with other Stakeholders, which include Corporate/Programme Management.
  • The process Directing a Project describes the work of the Project Board.

Level: Directing (Project Board)

Level: Managing (Project Manager)

The Project Manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the project. The Project Manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the project produces the required products in accordance with the goals, which are time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits.

Level: Delivery (Team Manager)

The Team Members are responsible for delivering the project’s products at a certain quality, and within a specific timescale and cost. A Team Manager can have the authority and responsibility of creating plans and managing a team to create and deliver the required products.

The process Managing Product Delivery is where the teams produce the specialists' products.

Project Team Structure

Project Board

The Project Board consists of the Executive, the Senior User and the Senior Supplier. Only one person can be the Executive while both the Senior User and Senior Supplier’s roles may be assigned to one or more persons. The Executive owns the Business Case and has the final word on decisions that are taken, so the Project Board is not a democracy.

The Project Board has the following duties:

  • To be accountable for the success or failure of the project.
  • To provide unified direction to the project and Project Manager.
  • To provide the resources and authorize the funds for the project.
  • To provide visible and sustained support for the Project Manager.
  • To ensure effective communication within the project team and with external stakeholders.
  • In real life, far too many projects have Project Boards that don’t understand their role and don’t provide the Project Manager with proper support.

project board

The Executive

The Executive is appointed by Corporate or Program Management. The Executive is responsible for the project and is supported by the Senior User and Senior Supplier Roles.

The Executive also gives a single point of accountability for the project. Usually the Executive will be responsible for designing and appointing the Project Management Team, including the rest of the Project Board and the Project Manager.

The Executive is responsible for developing the Business Case at the start of the project and keeps asking “is the project still value for money?” during the project.

The Senior User

The Senior User has the following responsibilities:

  • To specify the needs (requirements) of the Users that will use the project products.
  • To liaise between the Project Management Team and the Users.
  • To make sure the solution will meet the needs of the Users, especially in terms of quality and ease of use, and against requirements.
  • To supply the benefits information for the Benefits Review Plan.

The Senior Supplier

The Senior Supplier Role represents the interests of those designing, developing, facilitating and implementing the project’s products. They provide supplier resources to the project and ensure that the right people, tools, equipment and knowledge are in place, and that the products will meet the expected criteria, including quality criteria.

The Senior Suppler can come from the customer organization (e.g., Purchasing Manager) or they can come from a supplier. The Senior Supplier role can be one or more persons.

Project Assurance

First, why do we need Project Assurance? Consider the following situations:

We have a new Project Manager in the company who is not fully aware of the corporate quality standards, so they will most likely deliver a product that cannot be used as expected. A Project Manager might have discovered a big issue but is afraid to report it, as they don’t want to be the bearer of bad news. So they keep quiet and hope the issue will go away. For each of these situations, the Project Manager may be telling the Project Board that everything is fine and that the project is going as planned, so it is important that the Project Board get a second opinion and this 2nd opinion is called Assurance or Project Assurance.

  • The Executive is responsible for Business Assurance.
  • They wish to ensure that the business aspects of the project are correct.
  • They keep asking: Is the project value for money?
  • The Senior User is responsible for User Assurance.
  • They wish to ensure that the project will deliver the correct products and these products will meet the expected requirements.
  • They keep asking: Will the product work as expected?
  • The Senior Supplier is responsible for Supplier Assurance
  • They want to ensure that the products will be delivered as expected and that the right materials and people are in place to do the work.
  • They keep asking: Can it be done within time, cost, and other variables?

project assurance

The Project Board can decide to do this assurance themselves or they can assign these assurance tasks. Project Assurance persons should support the Project Manager, that is, to make them aware of standards which they should use in the project. The Project Manager should also feel comfortable to ask for guidance from Project Assurance.

The Change Authority

Change Authority is a person or group to which the Project Board may delegate responsibility for the consideration of requests for change or off-specifications and this role is part of the Project Management Team. The Change Authority may be given a change budget and can approve changes within that budget.

change authority

Change Authority may delegate to a number of levels, depending on the severity of the change. As you can see, the different roles can have Change Authority responsibilities:

Severity - Change Request Who decides?

  • Level 5 Corp / Programme Management
  • Level 4 Project Board
  • Level 3 Change Authority
  • Level 2 Project Manager
  • Level 1 Project Support / Help Desk

For example, a Level 2 issue (change request): The Project Manager could decide if only one product is affected and the change is less than €400, and of course, within tolerance.

Why doesn’t the Project Board do all Change Authority during a project?

If few changes are expected, then the Project Board can do this. If many changes are expected, then it is better to use a separate Change Authority group. This is more efficient for the change process and less time is demanded from the Project Board, as they are busy people.

The Project Manager

The Project Manager manages a project on a day-to-day basis and is the only one with this day-to-day focus on the project. As a result, this role can never be shared. The Project Manager runs the project on behalf of the Project Board within specified constraints and liaises throughout the project with the Project Board and Project Assurance.

The Project Manager usually (preferred by PRINCE2) comes from the customer. They are responsible for all of the PRINCE2 processes except for the Directing a Project process.

The Project Manager is responsible for the Project Support and Team Managers. In smaller projects where there are no Team Managers, the Project Manager will manage the Team Members directly, and where there is no Project Support, the support tasks fall on the Project Manager.

What kind of skills do you think a Project Manager should have?

They need to have good communication, cost management, an ability to understand the quality process, process change requests, document user needs, monitor the project, as well as planning, leadership and team-building qualities, including teamwork, problem-solving, reporting, facilitating meetings and conducting workshops.

They must be proactive (anticipate things) and not sit around and waiting for things to happen.

Which other roles can the Project Manager perform? The Project Manager may take in the role of Project Support, Team Manager (if they have specialist knowledge) and Change Authority (if permitted by the Project Board).

Team Manager

The role of the Team Manager is optional and is usually used:

  • If the project is quite large and there are many team members.
  • If there is a need for specialized skills or knowledge of the products to be produced (e.g., to run a Java development team, research on a specific product, etc.).
  • For geographic reasons, where some team members are situated at another site, so you work with a team manager at the remote sites.
  • If you are using an external company and it is easier and more efficient to coordinate with a Team Manager rather than all the team members directly.
  • The Team Manager has the responsibility to produce the products that were assigned in Work Packages (a group of Product Descriptions, etc.) by the Project Manager, and to provide regular status reports to the Project Manager.

Project Support

The Project Support Role provides the following services to the project:

  • Administrative services (to support the Project Manager), advice or guidance on the use of project management tools or Configuration Management.
  • Can also supply planning or risk management services.
  • The typical responsibility for Project Support is Configuration Management and, therefore, follows the guidelines in the Configuration Management Strategy document. This is * one of four strategy documents created at the start of the project.
  • The responsibility of Project Support is with the Project Manager. This role is not optional, so it needs to be assigned to a person or persons. Bigger Organizations might * have a Project Office (also referred to as a Project Support Office) that provides these services for a number of projects.

Stakeholder Engagement

What is Stakeholder Engagement? Stakeholder Engagement is the process of identifying and communicating effectively with those people or groups who have an interest in the project’s outcome. Just think about all the stakeholders if you were a new incinerator in the outskirts of a city. You will have local housing groups, building contractors, city council, future workers, environment agency, etc., and some stakeholders can be for or against the project.

PRINCE2 states that communication with stakeholders is the key to the project’s success. This is something that the Project Manager and Executive should keep in mind during the project. Communication with stakeholders during the project will be defined in the Communication Management Strategy document.

The Communication Management Strategy

What is the Communication Management Strategy document? It is a document that defines in detail how communication will be done during the project (e.g., what is being communicated, to whom is it being communicated, and how often). The Project Manager will refer to this document during the project.

The Communication Management Strategy defines the rules of engagement for how communications should be done during the project.

What does the Communication Management Strategy document contain? It contains a description of the means (how) and the frequency of communication to internal and external parties. This can also include the Program Management if the project is part of a program.

The Project Manager is responsible for creating the Communication Management Strategy during the Initiation Stage of the project. This should be reviewed during the Managing a Stage Boundary process to ensure that key stakeholders are receiving the required communication.

The Communication Management Strategy document contains the following information:

  • An introduction to remind the reader of the purpose of the document for this project.
  • Communication Procedure: A description of the communications methods that will be used, such as electronic mail, meetings, and presentations).
  • Tools & techniques, such as e-mail, intranet, newsletter.
  • Reporting: Types of reports and the information they should contain.
  • Timing: States when communication activities will be done.
  • Roles & Responsibilities: Who will handle the communication?
  • Stakeholder Analysis: Type of Stakeholder and the relationship desired with Stakeholder.
  • Information Needed: Information required from project, including the frequency of the communication and the format of it.

Usually a Communication Management Strategy template document will be provided by the Corporate or Program environment. This can be slightly customized by the Project Manager for the project, so it does not have to be too much work.

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