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Executive Level Roles in Project Management (#1 in the series The Key Integrative Roles in Project Management)
By Dr.Russell Archibald

The role of the project manager is obviously a central one, and in fact this role has received considerable attention in the project management literature over the past several decades. However, there are other important integrative roles in project management, and these frequently have been ignored.

Executive Level Roles

Minister as General Manager: integrates all projects with the agency’s strategic plans. This role in project management is focused on:

  • Determining how the organization’s portfolio of projects supports the overall business strategies of the organization,
  • Overseeing the organization’s overall project management process, and Monitoring how this process is integrated with all other aspects of the organization, and ensuring that sufficient money, human, and other resources are available on a timely basis to support the on-schedule completion all of the approved projects; if sufficient resources are not available then the General Manager must delay, cancel, or change the scope of one or more projects.

Project Portfolio Steering Group: manages each assigned project portfolio by conducting periodic portfolio reviews of all active and planned projects in the portfolio and making strategic decisions regarding selection and approval of new projects, cancellation and changes in project priorities, and allocation of resources to all projects in the portfolio.

Project Sponsor: integrates, on assigned major projects, the ongoing strategic direction of the project with the ongoing operations of the organization. This strategic direction is given to the project manager and through him or her to the project team. This role may be held by the general manager of the organization responsible for the project, by a high-level executive, or it may be delegated to someone who reports to the general manager. In some cases, the project sponsor role is held by a steering group comprised of key people from various parts of the organization. Within the past decade the importance of the project sponsor role been recognized, together with the importance of formally identifying who is assigned to this role for a specific project.

Dr. Russell D. Archibald, PhD (Hon), MSc, Fellow PMI and APM/IPMA, PMP, is one of the six founding members of the Project Management Institute. Now semi-retired, he has many years of management experience in engineering and operations with a variety of major US corporations in Europe and South America as well as the US. He has made major contributions to the understanding of project management, is author of the best selling 2003 book “Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects” (published also in Russian, Chinese, and Italian), has trained more than a thousand program and project managers and project specialists around the world, and has consulted in project management to clients in 14 countries on 4 continents. E-mail: russell_archibald@yahoo.com. Website: www.russarchibald.com.

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