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Who does what in a project?

Project roles - who, what, why, where, when

Welcome to our new blog series ask a project manager, where I’ll be answering any portfolio, programme or project management related questions.

I’m Rhona Aylward, Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda and I’ve been involved with portfolio, programmes and projects for over 20 years. I’ve set up PMOs, been a project manager, worked as a subject matter expert, have been a sponsor and more.

You can submit questions via the comments section so ask away!

So let’s kick off with our very first question.  It is:

What does everyone actually do?

I’m new to project management and I’m getting confused with all of the different roles. I keep hearing things like Senior Responsible Owner, Business Analyst and Senior Supplier and I’m really confused. Can you tell me what they all mean please?

Like every industry, project management has its own unique vocabulary and it can take a while to get your head around all the different terms. It’s made more confusing by the same roles being called different things. So in no particular order


The first role is Sponsor. It can also be called the Senior responsible owner or the Executive

They’re the one person with ultimate responsibility for the project. They “own” the business case and it’s their job to see that the project delivers what it says it will. They also chair the project steering committee.

Business Analyst

The business analyst is a key project role. They’re responsible for documenting the project business case and gathering the project’s requirements. They work very closely with the project manager.

Project Manager

The project manager is responsible for delivering the project within the parameters outlined in the business case.


This is someone, or a group of someones, who will be, or who think they will be, directly or indirectly affected by what the project is supposed to be delivering.

Senior Supplier

The senior supplier(s) represent the organisations or departments that are providing products or services to the project. They’re responsible for making sure the organisation or department they represent does what they say they will do. They approve supplier product descriptions and resolve any supplier related conflicts.

Senior User

The senior user is a representative of the people who will use the final product. Their role is to make sure that the users’ interests are heard and to help resolve any user related conflicts. They’re a member of the project steering committee

Team Manager or Work Package Owner

The team manager or work package owner is responsible for producing the products outlined in the work package. They receive the work packages from the project manager and then issue the work to the team members. They’re responsible for reporting progress to the project manager and attend stage gate reviews as and when required. They don’t go to the steering committee meetings

Steering Committee

A group of people that have been tasked with providing strategic guidance to the project and are there to support the project manager.They make sure the project stays on track and decide on any changes that are outside the pre-agreed tolerances.

Project Assurance

Project assurance are there to make sure that the project follows the correct procedures, the product(s) they produce are an acceptable quality and that it adheres to any applicable legislative or quality standards.They conduct regular health checks or quality audits at pre-agreed stages in the project’s lifecycle.


The last role, but by no means the least one.

This is the person or group of people who commissioned the work and will use the end product.

These are the main roles you’re likely to come across in a project environment. There are more so if there are any titles you don’t understand let us know in the comments and we’ll add them.

Also, if you have any questions you’d like to ask a project manager please send them through in the comments below. Your question could feature in the next ask a project manager blog!

And always, if you’re looking for a fabulous PPM tool, check out Psoda. You can sign up for a free trial here


  • February 19, 2019

    Antoinette Ehmke

    Hi Rhona
    I always find your posts very informative – thank you for writing them.
    Could you please expand a bit on role sharing within a programme: which roles can successfully be carried out by the same person, and which roles should NOT be combined?
    Also, looking for a useful distinction between Programme Manager / Lead vs Project Manager.

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