What Are the Different Roles in Project Management?

13.06.2017 |

Episode #5 of the course Introduction to Project Management by John M. Smith


Welcome to the fifth lesson of the course. Today, we will be discussing the different roles in Project Management and the importance of those roles in achieving project success.


The Project Manager

The most important thing to understand about the Project Manager is the scope of their responsibility. The Project Manager is the master gear-turner for the project. They may represent some of the gears as well, but their hand is always on the crank. Their role is to make sure the project keeps moving along on pace. A Project Manager’s job isn’t necessarily to do everything, but rather to make sure everything is getting done.


Other Project Leaders

As vital to the project as the Project Manager is, in many cases, it is necessary to appoint leadership within a project. The proficiency of a Project Manager to delegate leadership can be paramount to their ability to manage their time and expedite project deliverables. For example, a basic engineering project requires deliverables from engineering, drafting, and procurement. Each of those deliverables requires a host of activities, with their own timeframes and requirements. A Project Manager may need to appoint a leader for each team to focus on managing and expediting just that portion of the project. Alternately, some companies may have dedicated leaders who work with the Project Managers in a continuous cycle.


Project Team Members

A project’s team members are individuals with different skills and abilities. A project team is often a mixed bag, depending on what is needed and who is available, and at any given time, those team members may be on multiple project teams with different leaders, different goals, and different requirements of themselves.

The Project Manager communicates what is required and when it is due, and then helps get it done on time. A Project Manager may also be on other project teams where they are not the Project Manager but fill another role entirely. Therefore, the dynamics of leadership can shift depending on which project is being worked on. Businesses use schedules with unique project identifiers to track these dynamics. This is simpler in a home environment due to having fewer people involved, such as where one member of the family is in charge of the kitchen remodel while another is in charge of the landscaping.


The Stakeholders

As dramatically played out near the end of the Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman movie, Far and Away, settlers competed against each other in a mad dash to claim parcels of land in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. If they were first to arrive at their chosen parcel, they drove a wooden stake into the ground, literally staking their claim as the owner of the land. The term “stakeholder” refers to anyone who has a claim to anything of value.

The stakeholders in a project are those individuals, companies, and groups that have some stake in the project, whether that means they have money invested or are otherwise affected by the project’s outcome. Whether for business or personal advancement, understanding who is affected by your project is an important consideration and shapes the ways in which communication needs to happen.

The primary stakeholders are customers. Customers can be external—investors paying for the work to be done—or internal—another department, your boss, your family, etc. Customers require a high level of communication, like updates, notification of changes, etc. They may need to provide approval at certain stages or approve any changes beforehand.

Not all stakeholders are customers. Construction projects affect businesses, homeowners, and commuters. Though they have no money invested, they need information and are part of the project’s communication considerations.



These are the most basic categories of roles in a project, with the Project Manager and appointed leaders leading the project team and servicing the stakeholders. In our next lesson, we will dig a little deeper into the role of a Project Manager.


Recommended reading

Project Team Roles & Responsibilities

Five Critical Roles in Project Management


Recommended book

Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams by Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, Nate Walkingshaw


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