How to Document a Project Plan: Who Should Be On Your Project Team

Every once in a while, I’ll be asked what seems, at first glance, to be a silly question. I was sitting in a management meeting a few days back, when I was asked, “Who should be on my project team?” Several of the managers present reacted negatively to the question. After all, at first glance it seems like a silly question with obvious answers.

But it isn’t.

It’s actually a very important question that every project manager, and sponsor should ask at the start of their project. There are six primary roles in any project team.

1. The sponsor or management representative

2. The project manager

3. The client representative(s)

4. The service provider representative(s)

5. The quality manager

6. The scribe

Although these roles may vary in terminology and may be combined they are required for every project team.

The sponsor or management representative is the individual tasked with overall ownership of the project. They are responsible for advising management on the progress, making decisions when the team can’t agree and authorizing the team to proceed. Typically they are a senior manager and executive. In any case, for this project, they are the project manager’s boss. Normally, they attend only the kickoff meeting and the occasional support or celebration meeting.

The project manager is the manager tasked with actually planning and running the project. They own the day-to-day running of the project and the project budget. Although they shouldn’t be performing the actual planning, they bring the skills of planning to the project team. It is their responsibility to facilitate the planning meeting and the efforts of the representatives. When the project begins, theirs is the responsibility for maintaining direction and effort in the overall team.

The client representative is often the actual client. However, as a project begins to increase in size it may not be practical for all clients to be present. In this case, a senior manager becomes the representative. It is their responsibility to communicate with the actual clients. They will be making the appropriate commitments for resources. They will also be explaining the clients’ requirements. Finally, their responsibility is to negotiate and accept the project plan. Typically, multiple representatives are required in order to provide appropriate political coverage.

The service provider representatives provide the other half of the coin. The client representative is responsible for providing resources and point of view from the demand side. Similarly, the service provider representatives provide the supply side’s input to the project plan. It is they who will need to deliver the end product. Frequently, managers from each of the supplying departments serve on the project team. However, these people often bring an individual who will actually do the work. Since these latter people will actually deliver the work, it is important to get their feedback. The service provider representatives will be responsible for negotiating the delivery schedule, and estimating the efforts involved.

No project can be considered successful if it fails to deliver a quality product. In addition, the process by which it delivers product needs to be capable of ensuring that quality is delivered. The quality manager or analyst is responsible for reviewing the work breakdown structure and the delivery process. Their responsibility is to ensure that sufficient and appropriate quality checks are in place.

No matter how lean the project documentation is, there will always be a certain level of documentation required. This includes both the project plan and the minutes of the meetings. In addition, once the project is active, it will generate a number of documents which need to be retained. The scribe or project co-ordinator is responsible for recording the meetings, and preparing other documents as needed. Their primary function, however, is to ensure that documents are properly distributed and archived. This is especially true with regard to lessons learned.