Roles and stakeholders in project management: Project Manager, Director, Sponsor, Program Director

Key roles and stakeholders in classical project management

The functional manager, program manager, project sponsor, project director, and management committee are concepts from the classical terminology in project management.

Key roles in project managementThese are the roles and stakeholders involved in the projects, dealing with the allocation, use, and management of three main things: resources (human and material), time (both in terms of individual efforts and the need to meet deadlines and timetables). ) and costs (sources of funding for these costs), and these same responsibilities – distribution, use, and management are divided into three different levels of the management hierarchy. Reference: Project manager vs Program manager vs Project sponsor: Differences and responsibilities

Levels and responsibility of the senior managers

The higher the level, the more general the responsibilities, show how in a project many managers have many managers who have managers and they all depend on each other.

Depending on the project and the organizational structure of the company, a “responsible person” can be appointed for each role, or several positions could be covered by one person, as not every project follows classic scenarios. Each project has its individual needs, each organization has an individual approach, and not in every situation things go the classic way.

In the most general sense, these terms have the following descriptions:

Functional manager

For example, he is the person to whom the Project Manager reports. The functional manager monitors the effectiveness of the Project Manager and should have experience in this area of ​​activity.

Besides, the Functional Manager manages activities within its functional area. The degree to which a Functional Manager is involved in the project depends mainly on the form of the organizational structure of the company. He owns and manages the resources in a specific department and generally manages the technical work of people from this functional area who work on the project.

In the matrix organization, the Functional Manager shares the responsibility for managing people’s work with the Project Manager. But even this structure is divided into weak, balanced, and strong. In the project organization, of course, the Project Manager does the whole inspection, respectively in a functional organization – the Functional Manager does the whole inspection.

Program manager

Let’s start with what a program is. A program is a group of projects managed in a coordinated way to achieve benefits that cannot be achieved if the projects are managed separately, ie. general management structure for many related projects.

It aims to provide comprehensive guidelines, to ensure that projects related to these comprehensive guidelines are communicated effectively, by providing a central point of contact and focus for both clients and project teams.

Unlike project management, where the emphasis is on planning operations, the emphasis on programs is on higher-level management, monitoring, and control.

The program manager has the right to manage the entire program

The program manager is the person who has the right to manage this program – all related projects. All Project Managers in the program report to the Program Manager (I will have to do the same). The program manager is responsible for the company’s top management for the schedule, budget, and quality of all elements of the program. It reviews and approves the project plans of individual projects, manages communications, and moves decisions to senior management if necessary.

Thus, the “lower-level” of the management hierarchy is the project manager / my role /, who is responsible for the three things – distribution, use, and management in the operational sense and at the primary level, within a particular project, function.

At the “middle level” – the Program Manager, whose main responsibilities are to ensure the achievement of certain results defined in the business strategy. Here are incl. for example, setting and revising goals, coordinating activities between projects, etc. The program manager uses more time and effort to integrate plan change activities between departments and to communicate than project managers.

At the “top of the hierarchy”, the Program Management should monitor the implementation of the business strategy of the program and define the relationship of the program with the overall business plan of the enterprise, which could be undertaken by the Project Director.

Project director

The project director is responsible for project management at the strategic level. In practice, this is usually the person who manages the resources and controls the finances to ensure that the project progresses on time and budget.

The project director reviews the regular progress reports and makes personal, financial, or other adjustments if necessary. That is, to turn things around in the right direction if in any way part of the project has derailed.

The project director usually manages a team of project managers.

Project sponsor

The sponsor is the person who has the ultimate power over the project and makes high-level decisions. As such, there can be, in fact, two roles, namely the executive sponsor and the project sponsor. The Executive Sponsor tells the Project Sponsor what to do, and he tells the others what to do.

The executive sponsor ensures the financing of the projects, makes decisions for changes in the scope of the project, approves the main results, etc. And depending on the project and the organizational level of the Executive Sponsor, he may delegate the day-to-day tactical management to the Project Sponsor. For its part, the Project Sponsor consults the Executive Sponsor for important things.

In short, the Executive Sponsor makes the most important decisions and tells the Project Sponsor what to do.

Steering committee

Here again, it is a matter of decision-making. This is usually understood as a group of high-level stakeholders responsible for guiding overall strategic leadership.

They help to spread the strategic moves of the organization. The Steering Committee is considered particularly valuable if your project has an impact on many organizations, as it allows information from these external organizations to be brought into yours, which can help make decisions.
In real life, you probably won’t need this term much either, you won’t use it much, or you will have a relationship with such a committee often.

Stakeholders communicate progress

In theory, stakeholders on the contractor’s side communicate progress, corrective actions, necessary information, etc. with the relevant persons on the part of the contracting authority, while managing the project in their organization.

For example, a situation arises that requires “Corrective Action” – another classic term, these are the so-called improvements in the processes of organization and work on the project, mainly used to eliminate the causes of inconsistencies or problems, and gather the Project Director, The Program Manager and the Project Manager on behalf of the contractor, hold a discussion, discuss possible corrective measures.

They decide on the “Corrective Actions” and then communicate it to the other participants in the project: the project director will present it to the Project Sponsor, who is one of the partners of the company he works for. The political role of the sponsor, in this case, will be to mitigate the client’s reaction by contacting the client’s program director.

The sponsor may request more information, accountability, and the program manager or project director delegates this task to the project manager. The project manager conducts a conversation with the same person on behalf of the client to present the changes, to explain the “corrective actions”, how this decision was made and why it is the best option.

In other words, the organization, however, provides the internal conditions necessary for the success of a project and it is it that “delivers” the resources such as people, technology, and process that are required for its effective internal environment. The type of organizational structure within which the project is implemented is extremely important.

Planning is a collection of procedures, and methods used by managers to accomplish their stated goals

At its core, planning is a collection of behaviors, procedures, and methods used by managers to accomplish their stated goals. As you know, the coordination of individual and group goals is of paramount importance for the organization, for the projects, and the results of the business.
Different managers, units, and levels in the hierarchy have different directions, schemes, and methods of action, which implies a certain discrepancy in the pursuit of the common goal.

Especially if the success depends on personal relationships, as it would be in a situation where the successful implementation of the project strongly depends on the personal relationship of the project and functional manager.

Planning is closely linked to control

Planning is closely linked to control. On the one hand, planning is a decision-making process on the following issues: what needs to be done, how, when, with what, and by whom. On the other hand, control is a process of checking the implementation of the goals set in the plan.

I would like to point out that the issue of proper distribution of responsibilities and the balance of control is very delicate, as it easily creates the preconditions for power struggles.

Following the general guidelines, examples, and explanation of each of the roles, as part of project management in the classic version, it is time to turn to our company.

I would like to draw your attention to the chosen names, namely that they are all part of the top management of the company. As I gave an example above, with the three hierarchical levels some roles would be more suitable for colleagues from the middle management, so as not to put directors in possible unpleasant situations.

But let’s look at the list of names:

  • Martha Cooper, Senior Marketing Manager
  • James Peterson, Global Supply Director
  • Samuel Jackson, Regional Director of Human Resources
  • Olivia Walter, Regional Product Director
  • Katerina Peterson, Senior Project Manager, Public Relations Department
  • Michael Collins, Co-Founder and Global Director of Corporate Development
  • Liam James, CEO of – Business Value-Oriented Principles Ltd.

The organization has created the following certification programs:

  • BVOP Certified Project Manager (BVOPM)
  • BVOP Certified Scrum Master (BVOSM)
  • BVOP Certified Agile Director (BVOAD)
  • BVOP Certified Program Director (BVOPGM)
  • BVOP Certified Product Owner (BVOPO) – Business Value-Oriented Principles Ltd.

Full address:
766 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, USA

Phone number:


Having indicated the list of stakeholders in the project, let us proceed with the details of the interactions between the roles.

The project manager reports to the functional manager

Let’s start with the Functional Manager, as I noted – this would be the person to whom I will report and review my performance, ie. with extensive experience in my business.

George, although a respected colleague in my department and with extensive experience as a programmer, I am not convinced to what extent it is appropriate to leave as his responsibility the monitoring of the effectiveness of the Project Manager. See Project manager’s responsibilities.

I would suggest taking on the role of functional manager, focusing on the technical work guide of the project for the development of the operating system of the washing machine, etc. and at the beginning, I suggest, however, to share the responsibility for the management of the work of the people with the Project Manager, ie. with me.

Effectiveness could be monitored by the Human Resources

Effectiveness could be monitored by the Human Resources themselves, through these individual weekly meetings that we hold with them. Also, we could discuss other options with Mr. James. Or offer Martha Cooper to take on that role, even though she’s a senior project manager in the public relations department.

I would advise splitting the role of Sponsor in two, as I mentioned above, so Michael Collins would be the Executive Sponsor, who will make the most important decisions and have a hierarchical logic to tell the Project Sponsor what to do, and Sponsor of the project I suggest to be Liam James.

Because of the hierarchical levels mentioned in the previous lines of the “report”, for the Program Manager and Project Director I would suggest discussing positions from middle management or assistants of James Peterson, Samuel P. Jackson, Katerina Peterson (our list of names so far is composed only by senior management) and to adopt a similar scheme as that of the heads of master’s programs.

Project Managers who have common problems

They are Project Managers who have common problems; the problems are solved by a general master council, and it is headed by a Director, who performs the role of Program Manager. At a higher level, the Program Manager must coordinate with other program managers such as Chief Accountant, Human Resources Manager, etc. and at the highest level to coordinate all programs in the organization to follow the policy of the whole organization and to achieve its goals and to communicate with the Project Sponsors and the Executive Sponsor.

Regarding the Steering Committee, I propose to discuss with the other stakeholders in the projects who they would like to include on their part and after we have finally clarified who will take which position – to form our group of stakeholders.

A project sponsor could be present, and the commitment during the meeting also depends on how committed he is to a specific project and how important the results of the project are, and not just on a task that is part of the overall goals.

As we focused on above: each project has its individual needs, each organization has an individual approach, and not in every situation things go the classic way.