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PRINCE2 Principle Define roles, responsibilities, and relationships 

 November 15, 2023

By  Dave Litten

PRINCE2 Principle Define roles, responsibilities, and relationships.

A PRINCE2 project has defined and agreed-upon roles and responsibilities within an organization that engages the interests of the business, users, and suppliers. Moreover, a PRINCE2 project management team initiates and builds relationships with and between internal and external stakeholders.

Projects need people. The right people must be involved and know what is expected of them and what they may expect from others in the project. Successful projects require understanding the relationships with and between stakeholders and ongoing activities to strengthen them.

This is why ‘People’ is one of the five integrated elements of PRINCE2.

Stakeholders

Stakeholders can be individuals or groups within or external to the business.

Stakeholders within the company could be a work council, sustainability board, diversity board, owners, department leaders, or other project teams;

stakeholders outside the business could be trade unions, customers, suppliers, communities, interest groups, banks, or the media.

All projects have the following primary stakeholders: the business, users, and suppliers.

All three stakeholder interests need to be represented effectively in the project management team; this is reflected in the design of a PRINCE2 project board.

Define roles and responsibilities

Defining roles and responsibilities is particularly challenging as projects are cross-functional, may involve more than one organization, often have a mix of full and part-time resources, and may be spread across multiple locations.

The management structures of the parties involved in the project will likely vary, with different priorities, objectives, and interests to protect.

The day-to-day line management structures of the business may be designed for something other than project work.

The assignment of roles to individuals throughout the project’s life and their responsibilities must be clear, unambiguous, and accepted.

Successful projects must have an explicit project management team structure consisting of defined and agreed roles and responsibilities for the people involved in the project.

Moreover, the projects must understand the relationships and a means for effective communication between them.

The goal is to clearly articulate roles and responsibilities to provide a coherent structure that all stakeholders understand. It is suitable to enable effective project delivery performance against the project performance targets.

Define roles, responsibilities, and relationships.

Below are some examples of applying the ‘define roles, responsibilities, and relationships’ principle.

If the project is part of a programme, then people in the programme management team may hold some of the project responsibilities. In this case, the programme’s business change manager (BCM) may undertake the project executive or senior user role on the project board to help align the project with the programme.

The programme management office (PMO) could provide project support, or the programme’s design authority could authorize changes at the project level.

Agreements need to be made about who accepts which project role and the authority and responsibility they each have.

The goal is to enhance consistency and coherence between the project and the programme.

The nature of the project will determine the number of stakeholders and the amount of change it creates for each of them.

A project with a small number of stakeholders and a high degree of impact will have a very focused approach to engaging with them, perhaps individually and personally.

A project with many stakeholders and a wide range of impacts may use multiple approaches, combining personalized engagement with more general engagement through surveys and broadcast channels (such as emails).

For projects that have development teams using agile development methods, the PRINCE2 team manager role may be held collectively by the development team.

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Dave Litten


Dave spent 25+ years as a senior project manager for UK and USA multinationals and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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