Groups and teamwork
Groups and teamwork

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Groups and teamwork

4.3.1 'Players in the game'

A surprisingly large number of people in addition to the project manager and project team members can be involved in one way or another with projects. All of these people are important to some degree either because they are affected by the outcome of the project, or because they can affect its outcome, favourably or adversely. These various 'players' in the project 'game' may only be involved peripherally. It is important to be aware of who all the players are and what role they play in the project's environment.

Most projects will have someone in the role of project 'sponsor'. One definition of this role is:

The sponsor is the person providing the resources for the project: the person who should be responsible for ensuring that the project is successful at the business or institutional level. [The sponsor's] role, which is akin to the Chairman of the Board, is different from that of project champion.

(Morris, 1994).

The project or proposal 'champion' may or may not be the same person as the sponsor. A champion is someone who acts as an advocate for a proposal or project; someone who has the ear of people who are in power and who promotes the cause of the proposal or project. Boddy and Buchanan (1992) use it in the sense of 'cajoling', 'providing support in times of difficulty', or 'pushing changes through'.

A term often used in contracts to signify the person or organisation contracting to obtain professional services is the 'client'. This is the person or organisation in the position of buying the services of a contracting organisation or person. A client may be a sponsor or champion, or those roles may be taken by someone else (or several other people). I will use the term to mean the one who pays for contractual services, even in cases where the contract is an informal one, as it might be, say, between one department and another in the same organisation.

'Customer' is a term similar to 'client'. Its most common meaning is one who buys, but it can also mean a person with whom one has to deal. In talking about quality, it is common to say that it is important to 'keep the customer satisfied' and it is in this sense that I will use this term.

The term 'owner' can be taken to mean something similar to client or customer, though in a legal sense it is much more narrowly defined, where we note problems that may arise with the legal concept of property (that is, ownership). Boddy and Buchanan use the term 'owner' more in the sense of one with an attitude to strong attachment to the aims of a project.

The politics of organisations are such that many people who may not be directly involved with a project nevertheless have an interest in its completion and success. Any such person, whether directly involved or not, can be called a 'stakeholder'. This term includes anyone for whom the success of the project is important in any terms – the project manager, project team members, the sponsor, the champion, the client – for reasons of anticipated increased profitability, job security, financial reward, personal satisfaction or improved working conditions.


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