IT and Library Services

Project stakeholders

You may be asked to get involved in a project as a representative from the "business", i.e. an area of the university which will be impacted by the project. There are several roles which you may be asked to undertake, examples of which are listed below. As every project is different your role may differ, always check with your line manager or the Project Manager if you are unsure about your role on a specific project.

Project sponsor

Successful projects tend to be those that are given direction and support from a high level within the organisation. It is important for any major undertaking to have someone in the senior management team ultimately responsible for the project. This person normally chairs the project board and can be known variously as the executive, project director, or project sponsor.

The sponsor is unlikely to play an active part in the day-to-day management of the project but they will set the objectives for the project in line with the strategic plan, ensure that appropriate resources are committed and resolve issues where necessary.

It follows that the sponsor must have sufficient authority over all parts of the organisation that are impacted by the project. You may not know at the outset whether this is the case but once you have gone through the phase of defining the project you should be in a position to review whether or not your project has an appropriate sponsor.

The sponsor has ultimate responsibility for the project and ‘owns’ the business case throughout the life of the project. They have the following 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

Process Owner

A  Process Owner is the person accountable for creating, sustaining, and improving a specific process, as well as, being responsible for the outcomes of the process. A process owner is usually someone in management, not a team or committee. They will be a stakeholder in the project who can signoff the overall process and have accountability for the process.

Process owners take an organization-wide view of their processes. They may not truly “own” the process in that some of the people who are involved in carrying out the process may not report to them. Instead, the owner is responsible for the design of the process, in other words, how it is carried out, how it interacts with other processes, and how it is monitored and measured. This responsibility is an ongoing task. In addition they are able to influence other key areas outside their direct organizational control.

Responsibilities would include the following:

  • Determine the required inputs and expected outputs
  • Determine the process sequence and interaction
  • Define process methods to meet process criteria
  • Identify process documentation and training needs
  • Issue and maintain any procedures and instructions
  • Align process with quality policy and strategic direction
  • May make available necessary resources and information
  • Operate and control an effective and efficient process
  • May collect objective evidence of conformity for audits
  • A focus on continuous improvement of the process
  • Communicate process changes to the process users
  • Define and manage interfaces with other processes
  • Monitor, measure, analyse and evaluate the process
  • Use performance data to establish quality objectives
  • Set and track  process performance targets
  • Identify any risks to meeting process objectives
  • Communicate with process users to identify issues

Product Owner

The product owner is an integral part of the project team and on-going operations when the project moves into a ‘Business as Usual’ environment.

The product owner must understand the strategic vision for the product, project and business.

They should have a thorough understanding and experience of operational matters in order to make considered, insightful and pragmatic decisions.

They are the business representative available to the project on a day to day basis to represent the interests of all the users and provide expert knowledge and direction in a timely manner.

They are responsible for ensuring the product that is designed and built is fit for purpose and capable of delivering the anticipated benefits and providing quality assurance.

They have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the business users but understand when decisions need further consultation or have wider impacts.

They should balance the wants and needs of all the business teams to meet the defined project objectives.

Where consensus is required they will work with the relevant teams to ensure decisions are reached and arbitrate as necessary.
They should be readily available to the project and responsive to queries and requests directed to them.

Subject Matter Expert

The subject matter expert (SME) provides the knowledge and expertise in a specific subject, business area, or technical area for a project/program. They may also be a process owner depending on the level they are operating at.

They help the project team make informed decisions around their specific business area and assist in the creation of the plan and facilitate delivery of the project outcomes.


  • work with the project team to aid documentation of current (As-Is processes)
  • formulate and make recommendations and decisions (where appropriate as the process owner) about the ‘To Be’ processes
  • contribute to and approve or champion the solution design for their area.
  • ensure that the ‘To-Be processes’ and Solution Design is fully covered in test scenarios
  • ensure that UAT scripts are completed on the basis of the Solution Design.
  • may be involved in training the staff participating in UAT.
  • are responsible for highlighting build defects and providing any workarounds needed to resolve issues in their area (workstreams)
  • are responsible for creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for all new processes under the direction of the relevant process owner.


Champions should be individuals with trust and credibility of both Sponsors (leaders who must reinforce the change) and Targets (those people who are impacted by the change.)  The success of your change will depend on having the right Champions, with the right skills, traits, and characteristics working with Sponsor and the wider project teams to help implement change.

The specific tasks that can fall to a champion can include:

  • explaining why change is taking place and who will be affected;
  • advocating for the change initiative;
  • disseminating information;
  • highlighting potential benefits and drawbacks of proposed initiatives;
  • anticipating and evaluating areas of potential dispute or disruption;
  • developing strategies to counteract those potential areas of dispute or disruption;
  • serving as a point person who is available to hear others' concerns, ideas and questions;
  • advising stakeholders, as well as the impacted individuals;
  • tracking and managing objectives of the project established for the change agent.
  • Feeding back valid/unaddressed concerns

To help ensure success, people identified as Champions should exhibit some of the below characteristics diversified knowledge;

  • experience in the business discipline impacted by the change effort;
  • a willingness to ask tough questions;
  • flexibility, creativity and an openness to new ideas;
  • a strong network;
  • trustworthiness and credibility;
  • an understanding of the business culture;
  • courage;
  • excitement for new opportunities and potential; and
  • comfort working through uncertainty.

Similarly, a Champion  must have specific skills in order to be successful. Those generally include:

  • the ability to build relations;
  • strong communication skills; and
  • good people skills.

Super User

A super user is the internal expert on a system. They should be able to answer most questions on the systems functionality.

Super users should usually be more enthusiastic about the system than regular users. That helps everyone get on the same page about the new system.

From a technical perspective, super users often have more system rights than regular users. It could be the ability to configure the system or access certain information. This will be dependent on the architecture of the system.

  • Open-minded and ready for change
  • Responsible
  • Patient with others, eager to learn
  • Confident early adopter (not necessarily IT experts)
  • Inclusive

Stakeholder Documentation

The following documents will help stakeholders better understand their role, and the lessons learned from previous projects.