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  • Sabrina Sanchez

So… Who Does What? – A Guide to Project Roles & Responsibilities

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Imagine this, you finally nailed down your idea and are excited to pitch your new project. Everyone likes it and you think you’re on your way to approval when the questions start firing…

  • Who’s on the Steering Committee?

  • Will you need a DBA?

  • Who’s your customer?

Suddenly your exciting new project feels confusing and overwhelming. Understanding the different types of projects and team member roles will help ensure everyone on the team is aligned and one step closer to a successful engagement. Here’s a guide to project roles and responsibilities.

First, let’s address the differences between a product and a project.

  • A product is a permanent object or artifact your business offers your customers, such as adding a new mobile phone to your current lineup, or building a CRM solution to sell to customers. In both examples, your business is developing a product to sell to the end consumer.

  • A project is a temporary endeavor to achieve a unique outcome, such as implementing a Document Management solution for your AP team. Note that your project may be the implementation of another company’s product.

Now let’s get into the different project roles and responsibilities. I’ve highlighted a few key defined roles and their responsibilities:


The customer is the individual, group, or entity, benefiting from the project’s final result. The customer can help the project progress by providing input, reviewing project changes or even by participating in user acceptance testing (i.e. focus groups).

Project Sponsor

The person or group of people who provides resources and support for the project and is accountable for enabling success. The Sponsor(s) should be at the Executive Level within the organization as they promote the project, especially to senior management, to gain support, budgetary approval and to promote the benefits of the project. The Sponsor also serves as an escalation path for the Project Manager.

Steering Committee

A group of individuals including the Project Sponsor and high-level stakeholders. Their role is to approve the Project Charter, secure resources and adjudicate all requests to change key project elements (such as deliverables, the schedule, and the budget). The Steering Committee can sometimes be referred to as the Change Committee.


Stakeholders include all members of the project team, as well as any interested parties or entities. These can be internal or external to the organization.

Project Manager

A Project Manager (PM) is the person assigned to plan the project and lead the team responsible for achieving the project goals. The PM plans the project by developing a course of action and sequencing workstreams/ project activities to meet objectives. They’re responsible for managing and controlling activities, and communicating with stakeholders during all phases of a project. They’re also accountable for the project budget, and track the actual project spend against the budget. Ensuring any variances or changes are approved by the Steering/Change Committee. The project manager organizes the project planning, project tasks, project activities, and also acts as a resource manager, often using project management software to communicate.

Program Manager

A program is a group of related projects targeted towards achieving an overarching strategic organizational goal. The individual responsible for managing the program is called a Program Manager. They may have multiple Project Managers reporting to them. For example, one strategic goal may be to go completely digital (the program) but that requires multiple smaller projects to achieve.

Project Management Office (PMO)

An organizational structure or department that standardizes project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.

Business Owner

The head of the business unit that benefits directly from the project objectives. If your company was updating accounting software, the Director of Finance may be called out as the Business Owner. The Business Owner works together with the Project Sponsor to champion the project throughout the organization.

Functional Analyst

The individual who is responsible for analyzing and evaluating processes and systems. They may act as a liaison between the project technical team and the customer to fully understand the customer’s processes and be able to effectively communicate these to the project team. The Functional Analyst will usually be responsible for configuring the system to meet the stated project objectives.

Business Analyst

The person who is responsible for investigating business systems, identifying options for improving business systems, working with developers, and bridging the needs of the business with the use of technology. The Business Analyst will usually work with the Functional Analyst in configuring the system to meet the stated project objectives.


A software developer is a technical resource who writes computer programs/applications.

Database Administrator

A technical resource responsible for managing and maintaining the data within the database. A database is a collection of data, presented in an organized, structured way.

Data Scientist

The individual who is responsible for gathering & analyzing large sets of data, both structured and unstructured (messy data from different sources). They are often tasked with understanding & communicating results, and work to use data to help develop organizational strategies.

Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst

A BI Analyst reviews and communicates data findings and provides insights into patterns or trends allowing for the organization to make strategic moves.

Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer / Tester

A Quality Assurance Engineer / Tester is responsible for testing a product to ensure requirements have been satisfied. They will often test for bugs, find physical defects in products, and communicate these findings to the rest of the project team.

User Interface (UI) Designer

A UI Designer is the individual in charge of the aesthetic experience of a product such as a website or application.

User Experience (UX) Designer

A UX Designer is the individual in charge of the feel of a product. They’re tasked with ensuring the entire experience of using the product, from beginning to end, satisfies project or organizational objectives.

These are some of the key roles that you may require for a successful project. For any of your project needs, including how to get a project back on track, the team at SolvedAF can help you. Schedule a call today, and consider it Solved!

About the Author

Sabrina’s curiosity has led her to work within a cross-section of industries. She has over 8 years of experience in various IT-related roles in the academia & finance sectors. After 4 years of support-related roles, she shifted her focus to IT Project Management and Business Analysis.

A passionate creator, Sabrina also has over 10 years of experience in the media & entertainment industries. She has held various roles on numerous inter-departmental teams including promotions, production, and news over a 7-year tenure in radio broadcasting. Her time in radio introduced her to voice-over acting, a passion she actively maintains.

Sabrina’s varied background creates a unique blend of skills that make her a highly analytical yet creative Project Manager and Business Analyst. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Her interests include philosophy, cycling, and music.

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