Project Management for R&D

Stakeholders, roles, responsibilities, and powers of authority


Stakeholders, roles, responsibilities, and power of authority

The organizational form we recommend for a project closely resembles that of a limited company. The description below are guidelines that must be adjusted to each organization and project. 



The sponsor holds the ultimate responsibility for the successful execution of the project. The sponsor can be one person or a group of people. The sponsor must have command over all the resources necessary for carrying out the project.  The sponsor's task is to:

  • ensure availability of the resources necessary for carrying out the project

  • appoint the steering committee and its chairperson if applicable

  • approve the Goal statement

  • establish the project within the organization

  • start and finish the project.


Steering Committee

The steering committee acts as a proxy for the sponsor concerning monitoring and the control of the project. The steering committee shall preferably not be too large, and three to five individuals are usually the best. These individuals must possess the expertise required for supporting and guiding the project. They must also have enough time, commitment, and interest to play an active part in the project. The steering committee's task is to:

  • appoint a project manager

  • appoint project members, in consultation with the project manager

  • approve the project plan

  • follow up and ensure the project plan is followed

  • contribute to creating a positive working climate

  • support the project and make contributions in crises

  • ensure the project follows the company's Gate model if applicable

  • approve deviations from the project plan

  • inform the sponsor of project results.


Project Manager

The project manager is appointed by the steering committee and is responsible for running the project. The project manager's task is to:

  • select members of the project, in consultation with the steering committee

  • formulate a Project Definition, Project Plan, and Project Control System in consultation with the members of the project

  • run the project in a professional manner

  • put together progress reports and report to the steering committee

  • keep a continual record of the results of the project and all deliverables approved

  • take corrective action and draw attention to deviations from the project plan.


Project members

Project members have collective responsibility for the Goal statement and individual responsibilities for the deliverables assigned to them. The project members' task is to:

  • produce high quality work within their respective areas of responsibility

  • contribute within other areas if required

  • keep a record of the results of their work

  • share experiences and expertise with the team and the organization

  • contribute to a positive working climate in the team.


Gate Assessor

The gate assessor is appointed by the sponsor and is responsible for reviewing the project and preparing and running the gate meeting. The gate assessor should be a person capable of making an independent and unbiased evaluation of the project. The task of the gate assessor is to:

  • review the project and the business case

  • report to the sponsor regarding readiness for running the gate meeting 

  • prepare and run the gate meeting

  • ensure the production of a protocol from the gate meeting.