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Project Team Roles

What is the role of the Project Leader?

The Project Leader will be a senior person who is charged with the responsibility of the project. They are likely to be a Head of School/ Directorate / Divisional Director or Pro Vice Chancellor. The individual is ultimately responsible for:

  • the overall delivery of the project (this applies if project is delivered within one School/Directorate or across Schools/Directorates);
  • championing the project;
  • the line management of the Project Manager (possibly through an intermediary such as the project budget holder);
  • attending Independent Reviewer meetings;
  • for ensuring that the project proceeds according to the agreed plan;
  • ensuring that the staff committed to the project give sufficient time to the project e.g. the Project Manager may not be sole line manager of the project team.

What is the role of the Project Manager

The Project Manager will normally be identified during Stage 2 of the process and will be appointed by the relevant Committee/Senior management/Head of School/Project budget holder as appropriate. He/she will not necessarily be the same person who conceived the idea or who undertook the option appraisal. The Project Manager will drive the project forward from the implementation stage to completion and will be responsible for:

  • preparing the detailed project management plan from Stage 3 onwards;
  • identifying risks and planning their management/mitigation;
  • ensuring the project’s overall objectives, targets at various key stages, and individuals’ responsibilities are clearly understood by all concerned;
  • monitoring performance against the plan;
  • highlighting areas of slippage and identifying/initiating corrective action;
  • completing the project milestone reports prior to meeting with the independent reviewer at key milestones;
  • ensuring appropriate communication between the members of the project team and other project stakeholders including, where appropriate, the end users;
  • ensuring that the project complies with all appropriate University procedures and regulations, e.g. human resources, financial and procurement etc.

The Project Manager will generally be supported by a project team. Depending on the nature of the project, the project team will be appointed either by the relevant Committee/Senior management/Head of School/Project budget holder as appropriate. The size and composition of the team will vary according to the nature and complexity of the project but will generally consist of those directly involved in implementing various parts of the project.

What is the role of a steering group?

For the larger scale/more complex projects, it may be felt appropriate to establish a Steering Group especially where more than one School or Directorate (or University) is involved. The Project Management Framework can accommodate such a Group and it can provide a valuable channel for the involvement of, and input from, the clients of the project. Experience demonstrates that it is beneficial to have a Steering Group through the period of a project. However, it should only be set up where there are clear benefits to be gained and it is essential that its role in relation to the other key players is clearly defined and understood by all parties from the outset. Please contact the Planning Division for further advice on the structure of steering/project groups.

A Steering Group will normally be involved in Stages 1 and/or 2 of the Project Management Framework, however, its role can continue through implementation. A Steering Group is generally not involved in the management; however, it should receive progress reports throughout the project with problems / risks raised as appropriate (this will vary from project to project).

A Steering Group may:

  • be involved in needs analysis and/or identification of the project’s objectives (Stage 1 and/or 2);
  • offer guidance on the preparation of the original project plan (Stage 3);
  • advise the internal sponsor on any subsequent changes to the agreed objectives (scope, timescale or cost) as may be necessary as the project proceeds, and how these changes may be accommodated within the project plan (Stage 3).

Responsibility for implementing/approving any changes which affect scope, timescale or cost to the project plan rests with the Project Steering Group or Internal Sponsor.

The Independent Reviewer must not be part of, nor replaced by, a Steering Group.

What is the role of the Independent Reviewer?

The Independent Reviewer is appointed from within the University by the University Board. The reviewer will normally be appointed towards the end of Stage 2 of the process. This enables the Independent Reviewer to give assurance to the University that the case for proceeding to the Implementation Stage has been properly developed and costed to enable successful delivery. He/she is required:

  • to take a broad and independent view of the progress of the project;
  • to receive information from the Project Manager prior to the end of each review (milestone) meeting and act as gate-keeper, deciding whether sufficient evidence has been presented by the Project Manager/team to justify moving on to the next phase of the project plan;
  • to ensure that before moving on to the next stage:
  • all tasks underpinning the current milestone have been achieved;
  • revised milestones are agreed where appropriate;
  • the necessary time, skills and/or resources are available to complete the next phase;
  • reservations identified, should be raised in the first instance with the Project Manager/project budget holder/Head of School to identify the necessary remedial action. If reservations subsequently remain, these will be formally recorded on the pro forma (see Stage 3) by the independent reviewer and drawn to the attention of the internal sponsor. This may result in the project being allowed to proceed to the next phase with conditions attached, or, if the lack of progress is of major consequence, the overall scope, timescale and/or resourcing of the project may have to be revised. The independent reviewer can only recommend such changes; they will have to be formally approved by the internal sponsor.
  • any associated risks for the remainder of the project have been identified and plans for their management/mitigation put in place.

It is essential that the independent reviewer should not become a ‘Champion' of the project but should remain at arm’s length at all times so that appropriate independence can be demonstrated. Furthermore, the independent reviewer should not become involved either in the direct management of the project or in the management of the Project Manager. These responsibilities will rest with the Head of School/Director of Directorate/Division charged with implementing the project (possibly through an intermediary such as the project budget holder).