Sign up for
Get started

What is a project owner?

Definition: A project owner is a person or group responsible for initiating, funding, and overseeing a project. They are the key stakeholder who defines the project's scope, objectives, and requirements. 

The project owner works closely with the project manager and team members to ensure project success. They are responsible for making decisions related to the project, such as approving changes to the scope or budget.

They are also actively involved in the project and effectively communicate with the project team to ensure that the project delivers the desired outcomes.

Responsibilities of a project owner

The responsibilities of a project owner vary depending on the size and scope of the project

However, there are common duties all project owners carry out:

  • Appointing the project manager and other key project staff;
  • Defining and communicating the project requirements;
  • Approving the project plan;
  • Overseeing the project and making sure it stays on track while steering the project to completion;
  • Setting and managing expectations;
  • Assessing risks and making changes when necessary;
  • Ensuring team members have everything they need to complete assigned tasks;
  • Making sure all stakeholders are clear on what is expected from them;
  • Communicating with stakeholders (including customers) to make sure that they are happy with the progress and are on the same page.

Project owner does not:

  • Directly manage project staff;
  • Dictate the project schedule or milestones;
  • Assign project tasks to the team;
  • Solicit input from stakeholders or customers;
  • Make decisions about how to complete tasks;
  • Keep stakeholders informed of project status and issues;
  • Participate in day-to-day project activities;
  • Make decisions for the team;
  • Hire and fire team members.

In which cases do we refer to customers as project owners?

Customers or clients may be considered the project owners when they commission a project to be completed by an external organization or contractor

In this scenario, the customer or client has the authority and responsibility for overseeing the development and successful completion of the project, and they are the primary beneficiaries of the project.

For example, if a customer hires a software development company to build a custom software application, the customer is considered the project owner. 

They are responsible for defining the project's scope, goals, and objectives and ensuring that the project stays on track and meets their needs. The software development company executes the project and delivers the completed software application to the customer.

Wonder what your customers want?
Discover Mindmesh

Article FAQs

What is the difference between a project owner and a project manager?
The project owner is the person who initiates a project and its success or failure. The project manager is the person who manages the team and makes sure that they deliver on time, within budget, to quality, and within scope.
What's the difference between a project owner and a project sponsor?
The project owner is responsible for ensuring that the project is completed according to the specified requirements. The project sponsor provides funding and support for a specific project and is involved in decision-making about the scope, schedule and cost.
What is the difference between a project owner and a product owner?
The project owner is responsible for overseeing the development and successful completion of a project, while the product owner is responsible for defining and prioritizing the features and functionality of the product and for ensuring that the product meets the needs of the end users.

Recommended Terms


Get started

Hundreds of tech workers have already
tried Mindmesh and use it daily

Get Started

A monthly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox