Roles and responsibilities

A number of “roles” are used to summarize a set of responsibilities that may fall under a particular role for a project or program. These roles are not meant to provide an exact match to University position titles, job descriptions or career path descriptions. One person may be responsible for more than one role on the project/program, or the responsibilities within a role may be performed by more than one person on the project/program. 

Role descriptions (sorted alphabetically)

Business analyst

The business analyst (BA) is the primary liaison between project/program stakeholders, who understands business needs, structure, processes, policies and operations.

Communications Lead

A communications lead identifies, plans and delivers strategic communications content across multiple channels to advance project goals. The project communications lead works closely with the project manager and project team to develop a project communications plan and to deliver messaging, presentations, reports and other materials that support the project with a strong focus on people.


The project/program customer, or client, is the business unit(s) that identified the need for the product(s) or service(s) the project/program will deliver.

Functional manager

The functional manager is the person who has management authority within a business unit/department with direct supervision over one or more resources on the project/program team, and/or direct responsibility for the functions affected by or that affect the project/program deliverable(s).

IT governance

IT governance refers to the management framework within which IT project, program and/or portfolio decisions are made. At Waterloo, an IT portfolio, program or project governance group is most often referred to as a steering committee and less often referred to as a management team, board or executive team. Project teams produce expected business or technical outcomes, while governance activities include management and leadership responsibility for portfolio management; and project and/or program issues, changes, resources (human and fiscal), communications, status/progress reporting, risks, quality, procurement and project closure.

Manager PMO

The Manager of the Project Management Office, VPAF, is responsible for the management and advancement of project and program management.

Product Owner

The Product Owner (PO) is a member of the project team who is responsible for maximizing the value delivered by the team and ensuring that the Team's Backlog is aligned with customer and stakeholder needs. The product owner works closely with the team to ensure that everyone understands what's on the product backlog and how it relates to the current state of the product or service.

Program business change manager

The program business change manager is responsible for managing the business side of the organizational change that is being delivered by the program, by preparing the business for the change, introducing the change to the business, determining and measuring benefits, and monitoring the business environment through the transition and after.

Program manager

A program manager (PgM) is the person responsible for achieving the approved program goals and vision for a particular organizational strategic outcome by managing and coordinating a set of program components (initiatives and projects) to obtain benefits and control that could not have been achieved by managing the components individually.

Project manager

A project manager (PM) is the person accountable and responsible for achieving the approved project objectives/goals. To be successful, a PM should have full responsibility and authority to complete an assigned project.

Project owner

The project owner is typically, but not always, the head of the business unit receiving the product, and bears business responsibility for successful project implementation. Sometimes referred to as the lead or champion for the project.

Project team

The project team is responsible for contributing to the overall project objectives and specific team deliverables, by contributing towards the planning of project activities and executing assigned tasks/work within the expected quality standards, to ensure the project is a success.


The project/program sponsor should be the highest/most influential senior leader possible who has demonstrable interest/concern for the project’s solution and success, in proportion to the project’s risk and scope.


Stakeholders are the groups, units, individuals, or organizations, internal or external to our organization, which are impacted by, or can impact, the outcomes of the project/program. Stakeholders will include project/program sponsor(s), project manager(s), program manager(s), subject matter expert(s), project team members, customers, plus a number of other people or groups, depending on the project/program.

Subject matter expert

In general, the responsibility of the subject matter expert (SME) is to ensure the facts and details are correct so that the project’s/program's deliverable(s) will meet the needs of the stakeholders, legislation, policies, standards, and best practices.

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