I am looking for a good book on project organisation: I was told that the project consists of (a) a project team, with a project manager, an IT coordinator and a business coordinator and (b) A project steering committee with a project sponsor, the project manager and a project owner. These are all roles, but how do we know who is the project sponsor ? Who is the project owner, are they the same ?

Are there books on these topics ? Guidelines ? Best practises ?


@CodeGnome: if the answers can be given without referring to a book then it would be great: who is the project sponsor? The finance department? Who is the project owner?

@CodeGnome: I am head of a department that wants to build a database. The database will be fed by data collected from monthly surveys organised by my department. The answers will be loaded in that database. The database will be used by at least four other departments. I assume the me, head of the department that will keep the database, I am owner. But who is the sponsor?

  • 2
    Questions requesting off-site resources are off-topic.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Oct 7, 2015 at 4:00
  • @CodeGnome: if the answers can be given without referring to a book then it would be great: who is the project sponsor? The finance department? Who is the project owner?
    – user0009
    Oct 7, 2015 at 5:09
  • You pick them. There's no pat answer; it just depends. Without a lot more detail about your organization, your project, and the roles there's no way anyone outside your organization could even guess. If you can't narrow your question, it will probably be closed as too broad or too opinionated.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Oct 7, 2015 at 16:52
  • @CodeGnome: I edited the question, see bottom
    – user0009
    Oct 8, 2015 at 4:57

2 Answers 2


The project sponsor:

  • Authorizes charging men/money/minutes/material to the project; if you don't have a sponsor, then you should not be working on the project. Who made the decision to work on this project? That person is a good candidate to be project sponsor.
  • Clears political obstacles. If your database runs into a conflict with another project or operation (e.g. if you and another team both need access to the same programmer, or both need time with the network team to deconflict ports), who would solve that problem? Who would broker an agreement among the parties? That person is a candidate to be the sponsor.
  • Champions the project. If your team wants to give up on the project (confronted by unusual political or technical problems), who would care? Who would call and ask "What is the status of the database?" That person is a candidate to be the sponsor.

Based on the very few details you provide, I suspect that you are the project sponsor. You want this change to happen, you control the necessary resources and you have the standing to negotiate with other departments. You're also the owner; that's not uncommon for internal projects.

OP asked a few more questions - neither of the project management methodologies that I'm trained in use the term "steering committee"; if the term doesn't help you to close the project successfully, then I would abandon the term. It sounds like most of the resources for this project are under your supervisory control. There is a lot of project management guidance that is designed on the assumption that the PM is not part of the supervisory chain and has no supervisory influence over the people working on the project. Since that assumption doesn't hold true for you, you're going to find that many things are simpler than a strict reading of the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

On the other hand, much of my project management experience is in stakeholder management. In your very brief description of the project, you mention four departments in addition to your own that will use the database. I would advise you to include representatives of those departments in your stakeholders and make sure that the project aligns with their plans & objectives.

  • But if I am the project owner and also the project sponsor, then the steering committee has only two memebers: the project owner, the project sponsor (both the same) and te project manager. On the other hand the project team, led by the project manager has three members: project manager, IT coordinator and Business coordinator. The latter is in my department. If there is a 'conflict' in the project team and they do not get out, then the project manager should escalate to the steering commitee. But there it are the same people ?
    – user0009
    Oct 9, 2015 at 5:56

The PMI Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) is the US Standard for project management and organization. It also has the benefit of being the basis for the Project Management Professional certification.

As a quick starting point, I'd suggest going to Wikipedia and looking up "Project Management" and "Program Management"

  • in this particular case: If I am head of a department that wants to build a database that is used by almost all other departments (at least 4 other), then who is the project sponsor ? Who is the project owner ?
    – user0009
    Oct 7, 2015 at 5:45
  • 1
    You're the project owner. The sponsor is going to be the Exec who is willing to put themselves behind the project and or the exec giving you your budget. Your stakeholders will be all those departments that will use the DB. Oct 7, 2015 at 17:07
  • do all these (owner, sponsor(s), and users/stakeholders) have to be part of the project steering committee ?
    – user0009
    Oct 8, 2015 at 7:13
  • Only departments directly responsible for delivering work should be on the steering committee. Stakeholders can be reported out to. Oct 8, 2015 at 23:57

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