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PRINCE2 roles and responsibilities

by PRINCE2 Online
Learn how the seven PRINCE2 roles drive project success and tailor them to fit your organisation’s needs.
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PRINCE2 roles and responsibilities | prince2-online.co.uk

PRINCE2 project team roles

PRINCE2’s methodical approach to project management is epitomised by its clearly defined roles, each with a set of responsibilities that contribute to the project’s overall success. These roles encapsulate the essence of the PRINCE2 method, integrating principles, themes, and processes to promote project effectiveness.

Those who undertake PRINCE2 training courses gain insights into how these roles function in harmony to create a consistent approach to project management, with the understanding that real-world application requires a certain degree of adaptation. Indeed, it is this adaptability that allows PRINCE2 to be scaled and tailored to the size, context, and complexities of different projects.

As professionals delve into the PRINCE2 methodology, they learn the importance of each role’s contributions toward the project’s success. From the executive, who carries the project’s vision, to the project support staff, who ensure that the day-to-day operational details are managed efficiently, every role plays a pivotal part in steering the project towards its goals.

Understanding these roles is critical, not just for those aiming to pass PRINCE2 exams but for anyone involved in or looking to implement PRINCE2 in their organisation. By knowing the roles and how they are interdependent, practitioners can strategically align their project resources, ensuring that the right skills and capabilities are mobilised to meet the project’s demands.

Students studying for the PRINCE2 Foundation must understand broadly the roles described below and each of their key responsibilities. Students studying for the PRINCE2 Practitioner must be able to tailor the roles and responsibilities for a fictional project scenario.

Furthermore, the ability to combine roles or have them fulfilled by multiple individuals provides organisations with the flexibility to configure their project management teams in a way that maximises efficiency and effectiveness. Those in leadership positions, including the project board and executive, can ensure that their project teams are composed of individuals who can bring diverse perspectives and expertise, all while upholding the integrity of the PRINCE2 framework.

Project board role

The direction and success of a PRINCE2 project rest on the shoulders of the project board. Serving as a bridge between the project management team and the wider business environment, the board guides the project strategically within the constraints set out in the project mandate.

The board’s remit is wide-ranging, from confirming project tolerances to providing overall guidance and direction. They authorise crucial stages and ensure stakeholder communication is maintained, decisions on escalated issues are made, and risks are managed. Ultimately, they confirm the project’s outputs and sanction any necessary follow-on actions, transferring ownership of the benefits management approach back to the business.

Executive

The executive role is pivotal, acting as the project’s sponsor and holding the ultimate responsibility for the project’s success. The executive ensures that the project maintains a clear focus on delivering outcomes that are aligned with the organisation’s objectives and that the project delivers value for money.

By maintaining a close relationship with the project manager and guiding the project board’s strategic decisions, the executive is both a leader and a guardian, ensuring that the project adheres to its business case throughout its lifecycle. They are deeply involved in the project’s critical milestones, from selecting and appointing the project management team to overseeing the creation of key management products, such as the project’s brief and initiation documentation.

The effective executive balances the triple constraints of time, cost, and quality while keeping an eye on the broader picture, considering the project’s impact on business strategy, and ensuring alignment with organisational goals. This involves securing funding, managing the business case, and being prepared to make tough decisions when issues arise that could affect the project’s outcome.

A proactive approach to risk management is part of the executive’s remit as well. By identifying, assessing, and controlling business case risks, the executive works to mitigate potential problems that could compromise the project’s objectives.

Senior user

The senior user role acts as the voice of the customer and end-users in a PRINCE2 project. It is through this lens that the project’s products are designed and assessed, ensuring they meet the users’ needs and expectations. The senior user is central to defining the quality requirements and acceptance criteria for the project, making their role critical to the project’s success in terms of customer satisfaction and benefits realisation.

By engaging with stakeholders and representing their interests, the senior user ensures that user requirements are clearly communicated to the project team. They work closely with the project manager to define the desired outcomes and to make sure that the project remains focused on delivering benefits that are tangible and aligned with the user’s strategic objectives.

As the project progresses, the senior user continuously verifies that the deliverables are in line with the user requirements. They also play a key role in resolving user-related issues and in ensuring that the user perspective is integrated into decision-making, especially when changes are proposed that could affect the product.

Balancing operational needs with project delivery is another aspect of the senior user’s responsibilities. They must ensure that the transition of the project’s outcomes into business-as-usual activities is smooth and that the expected benefits can be realised in the operational context.

The senior user’s commitment extends beyond the project timeline, as they are often involved in post-project activities, such as the review of how well the benefits have been realised and whether the project’s products continue to meet user needs and deliver value.

Senior supplier

The senior supplier represents the technical and supplier elements within the project. This role is tasked with the assurance that the project’s products are designed and developed to the highest quality standards, ensuring that the project’s deliverables are fit for purpose and meet the technical requirements set out at the start.

The senior supplier plays a consultative role, advising on the feasibility of proposed solutions, and working closely with the project management team to align the technical aspects of the project with the overall objectives. Their insights into the viability of different approaches and methods can significantly influence the project’s direction and outcomes.

Collaborating with the project manager, the senior supplier ensures that supplier resources are allocated appropriately and that the project is positioned to make the best use of these resources. They also manage any supplier-related risks and issues, ensuring that the integrity of the project’s outputs is maintained.

As the project unfolds, the senior supplier remains an integral part of the decision-making process. With a focus on safeguarding the project’s technical quality, they resolve priority conflicts and provide assurance that the products developed meet the requisite standards and align with the project’s specifications.

Project manager

The project manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of a PRINCE2 project, guiding it from initiation through to closure. Tasked with ensuring that the project delivers on its promises, the project manager balances numerous constraints such as scope, time, cost, quality, benefits, and risks.

With defined authority from the project board, the project manager creates vital management products and oversees their approval. This role is also responsible for regular reporting, maintaining the project log, and ensuring that the project adheres to its defined processes and controls.

Effective communication is central to the project manager’s role. They must manage stakeholder relationships, ensure that information flows smoothly between all levels of the project team, and lead the project management team with confidence and clarity.

The project manager’s responsibilities extend to the management of work packages, authorising them, and monitoring their delivery against the project’s plans. They play a crucial role in managing the project budget, timeframes and ensuring that the project’s products are tested, accepted, and capable of delivering the benefits outlined in the business case.

When deviations from the plan occur, the project manager must be adept at advising the project board and recommending corrective actions to keep the project on track. This includes managing risks and issues that may arise during the project lifecycle and ensuring they are resolved in a manner that protects the project’s outcomes.

The project manager’s competencies are wide-ranging, encompassing planning, time management, and problem-solving. They must also possess strong people management skills to lead their team effectively and engage positively with stakeholders.

Team manager

The team manager oversees the development of the project’s products, managing the team’s activity and ensuring that each product outlined in the work package is completed to the agreed standards. Reporting to the project manager, the team manager focuses on the tactical aspects of product delivery, ensuring that the project’s outputs are of high quality and delivered on time and within budget.

Central to the team manager’s role is the preparation of detailed team plans, which outline the steps necessary to develop the project’s products, and the tracking of progress against these plans. The team manager must be highly organised, proactive in identifying potential risks and issues, and adept at managing resources to meet the demands of the project.

The team manager works closely with project assurance and project support functions, ensuring that quality activities are planned and executed correctly and that all records, such as the quality register, are accurately maintained.

Project assurance

Project assurance is an independent function within the PRINCE2 framework, tasked with providing confidence to the project board and stakeholders that the project is being conducted appropriately. The role monitors the project’s performance, ensuring that it is in line with the project’s objectives and principles.

Project assurance provides oversight across the project, checking that it is delivering value, that risks are being effectively managed, and that the project is compliant with organisational standards. It liaises between the business, users, and suppliers to ensure effective communication and that the interests of all parties are being considered.

The responsibilities of project assurance include ensuring that the appropriate quality methods are applied and monitoring the project’s progress against its scope. This role plays a key part in upholding quality standards, reviewing product descriptions, and ensuring that the right people are involved in the project at the right time.

Project support

Project support provides the foundation necessary for the successful management of a PRINCE2 project. This role is pivotal in creating and maintaining the project’s infrastructure, from setting up project files to establishing document control procedures and collecting data on the project’s progress.

Acting as a hub of administrative expertise, project support ensures that plans are updated in line with actual progress and forecasts, and that the project’s methods are applied consistently. This role is central to the administration of the quality review process and aids in the organisation of project board meetings.

With its ability to offer specialised knowledge and support, project support is invaluable in maintaining the project’s registers and logs and administering the change control procedure. By providing this crucial support, the project team can focus on their core responsibilities, with the assurance that the project’s documentation and controls are being handled efficiently and effectively.

Business layer

The business layer has a strategic role in PRINCE2 projects, setting the stage for the project’s initiation and providing ongoing guidance. By providing the project mandate and appointing the executive and project board members, the business layer ensures that the project is aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives and that it has strong governance from the start.

Once the project is completed, the business layer’s focus shifts to capturing and disseminating lessons learned, ensuring that the knowledge gained from the project benefits the wider organisation. It also assumes responsibility for the benefits management approach, ensuring that the project’s outcomes continue to deliver value into the future.

While the business layer is not involved in the day-to-day project management activities, its influence is felt throughout the project’s lifecycle. Its decisions set the parameters for the project’s scope and tolerances, reflecting the organisation’s priorities and appetite for risk.

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