The Maturity of the Project Owner: How Can It Be Developed?

The Maturity of the Project Owner: How Can It Be Developed?

Dagmar Zuchi (enable2change, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3197-5.ch010


A key success factor in projects is the performance of the “project owner.” The “maturity” of a project owner is dependent on his knowledge, skills, and attitude—thus his “potential”—to perform this role in a project. The maturity of a project owner is based on a clear role perception, on competences in project management, and on the ability to build and maintain appropriate relationships with relevant stakeholders. The role of the project owner has to be understood and accepted by the project manager and the project team, and by representatives of relevant stakeholders, such as the client, suppliers, etc. Mature project-oriented organizations have procedures for project management, which may include descriptions of project management sub processes and methods and expectations towards the diverse roles in projects. Nevertheless, the author observes in practice that the potential of performing a project owner role professionally is not yet used consistently in organizations. In the chapter, different aspects of the maturity of project owners are discussed.
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“The project owner realizes the project-related company interests, co-ordinates project and company interests, provides context information and gives feedback to the project team on the project deliverables. The project owner leads the project manager and carries out marketing tasks for the project and communicates with relevant stakeholders” (Huemann 2015: 84). The project owner/sponsor is “usually a manager whose organization provides funding for the project. It is anticipated that this organization receives the most benefits from the project outcome. The sponsor is therefore the person most interested in the success of the project.” (Müller 2009: 19). According to PMI the project owner/sponsor is “a person or group who provides resources and support for the project, program, or portfolio and is accountable for enabling success” (PMI 2017: 723).

There exists different terms for the governing role in projects, such as project owner, project sponsor or project board. The project owner/sponsor is “an individual who may be called funder, sponsor, client, senior responsible owner” (GAPPS 2015: 3). In most cases, these terms are used synonymously. Müller (2009) elaborates that there occasionally are also “both” roles in place, a project sponsor who provides the budget, a project owner who is the main beneficiary. In this article, the author will use the term “project owner”, supporting the argument of Huemann (2015) that “it expresses that the project owner is not only providing financial resources in cash or kind to the project, but is responsible for strategic project decisions, and assigns and approves a project” (Huemann 2015: 83). The author will only refer to “project sponsor”, when used as such in quotations.

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