Last edited 27 Aug 2018

Senior responsible owner

On publicly-funded projects, the senior responsible owner (SRO) (sometimes referred to as the 'project owner') is:

'...the individual responsible for the success of the project...'

(ref. Achieving Excellence Guide 2 - Project Organisation)

'...responsible for ensuring that a programme of change or a project meets its objectives and delivers the projected benefits. The SRO should be the owner of the overall business change that is being supported by the project and should ensure that the change maintains its business focus, has clear authority and that the context, including risks, is actively managed. This individual must be senior and must take personal responsibility for successful delivery of the project. They should be recognised as the owner throughout the organisation.'

(ref. OGC Gateway Process Review 1: Business justification.)

The senior responsible owner has ownership of the project at a senior level (equivalent to the board director responsible for the project in the private sector). Their responsibilities are strategic rather than day to day.

The senior responsible owner's responsibilities are:

  • To be the design champion for the project, with a personal commitment to delivering a facility that demonstrates design excellence – or to ensure that an appropriate individual takes on the responsibility of design champion.
  • To oversee the preparation of the business case and budget for the project, ensuring the proposals are realistic and meet the business objectives, and submitting them to the IDM investment decision maker) for approval.
  • To establish an appropriate organisation structure and the necessary communication processes to ensure that users and other stakeholders are involved in, and committed to, the project.
  • To appoint a project sponsor and provide the terms of reference, adequate resources and any necessary support and training to ensure that a brief is developed that clearly reflects the project objectives and is agreed by the stakeholders.
  • To establish a progress and reporting procedure, ensuring that any changes in circumstances affecting the project are evaluated and appropriate action taken.
  • To resolve issues with members of the client team and other stakeholders.
  • To approve any essential changes to the scope of the project, ensuring that any impact on quality, cost or time is assessed and reported to top management as appropriate.
  • To ensure that a post implementation review (also known as post occupancy evaluation) is carried out and considered by all stakeholders in the project.
  • To ensure that the finished asset still supports and satisfies the business objectives to ensure that the business accepts and benefits from the finished asset.
  • The SRO (senior responsible owner) should draw up the terms of appointment for the project sponsor, setting out the following:
  1. the business needs to be addressed by the project
  2. the resources available to the project sponsor, internally and externally
  3. the authority delegated to the project sponsor for decision making
  4. the project sponsor's responsibilities in relation to health and safety regulations (see AE10:Health and safety).

(ref. OGC Achieving Excellence Guide 2 - Project Organisation.)

For additional roles specific to construction procurement, see OGC Construction projects: A manager’s checklist.

The relationship between the senior responsible owner and the rest of the project team is illustrated in OGC guidance as shown below:


Illustration reproduced with permission from OGC (ref. OGC Guide 2: Project organisation: roles and responsibilities.)

Gateway reviews are initiated by the senior responsible owner, and they are responsible for the review reports and any recommended remedial action (See the article on the OGC for more information).

NB: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has now been absorbed into the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) within the Cabinet Office. OGC guidance has been archived, however, it is cited in the Government Construction Strategy and the Common Minimum Standards, and links are provided to OGC documents from government websites such as the Major Projects Authority. The OGC gateway review process still provides one of the best and most comprehensive sets of guidance for public projects. It is for this reason that the project plan for public projects within Designing Buildings Wiki follows the OGC gateway review process.

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