Project boards usually have key people representing the different interests in the project: these can be generally classified as supplier, customer or user.
- A chair who may be the project sponsor (or the programme sponsor if the project is part of a wider programme of activities) or alternatively may be another senior manager
- A senior user, representing all future users of the output of the project (eg a new system, a new or refurbished workspace, a new process and set of related paper forms)
- A senior supplier, representing those sections of the organisation (including any external suppliers) whose work will lead to the outcome (eg IT staff working on a new system, managers designing new business processes, the estates department who are managing a refurbishment or new build)
- A customer, representing the stakeholders who expect to get the benefit from the output(s) of the project. This could be the organisation as a whole, represented by the chair/project sponsor
Where there are a number of different user teams or departments the senior user would normally chair a separate user group so that there is a mechanism for various user interests to raise concerns or to contribute to the project.
Likewise, where there are a number of suppliers the senior supplier would chair a separate suppliers group performing a similar role on the supply side of the project.
The executive would normally come from the senior management of the customer organisation – that is the organisation who are to directly use the output of the project – the new object, system, process or structure.
The executive has ultimate responsibility for the project and ‘owns’ the business case throughout the life of the project. He or she has the following specific responsibilities:
- Oversee the development of the project brief and business case
- Authorise expenditure levels, set stage tolerances and ensure funding for agreed expenditure is available
- Authorise or reject proposed changes to cost or timescale beyond tolerance levels and all proposed changes to scope, checking for possible effects on the business case
- Ensure risks and Issues are being tracked and mitigated/resolved
- Liaise with programme or corporate management on progress
- Organise and chair meetings of the project board
- Authorise the project’s continuance or early closure at stage review meetings of the project board
- Authorise formal closure of the project
- Hold a post-project review to ensure benefits are realised
The senior user
The senior user is the representative on the project board of all users of the project output. If one exists he or she will chair meetings of the user group. The senior user is responsible for ensuring that users agree acceptance criteria against which the output of the project will be measured and for ensuring that these will meet the needs of the users.
Specific responsibilities of the role include:
- Ensure that the desired outcome of the project is specified
- To co-ordinate the agreement of users of a set of acceptance criteria containing measureable and tangible descriptors
- Organise and chair meetings of the project user group
- Organise and monitor user testing of project outputs, ensuring that any issues arising are adequately recorded and communicated
- Monitor the project’s progress from a user requirements point of view
- Manage two-way communications with the users
- Resolve any issues or conflicts including conflicts of priorities of users
- Monitor and manage user-related risks
The senior supplier
The senior supplier is responsible for the quality of products supplied. Where there are multiple external suppliers it may be necessary to have more than one person in this role. Specific responsibilities include:
- Approval of supplier specifications – this may be by approving product descriptions (see section on product-based planning)
- Ensure that supplier resources are made available for project work
- Resolve any supplier conflicts
- Advise the project on design and development strategies
- Monitor potential changes for impact on the quality of products from suppliers
- Monitor and manage risks from a supplier viewpoint
- Ensure adequate quality control procedures are adhered to by suppliers