Lessons Learned - The SRO Role in Major Government Programmes



The Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) role is important and pivotal in ensuring that projects deliver their expected outcomes and benefits. The role was first proposed for IT-enabled projects in the McCartney Report in 2000; prior to this, it was often difficult to identify the individual with responsibility for the successful outcome of a major project. In recognition of its importance, the role is now mandated across all UK Government projects. The SRO role is widely regarded as an essential innovation that increases the chances of project success by helping to establish clear objectives and better decision making both internally and in the management of any third party suppliers involved in delivery.

As the individual responsible for ensuring that a project or programme of change 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. This allows the SRO to 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 successfully delivery of the project; they should also be recognised as the owner throughout the organisation. The definitive definition of the role appears on the OGC website and is based on the recommended approach in Managing Successful Programmes (MSP).

OGC has carried out a review of the effectiveness of the SRO role and has made a number of recommendations to the Programme and Project Management (PPM) Council. OGC has also identified other recommendations that it intends to incorporate into its Programme and Project Management products.

In summary, the SRO role can be made to work more effectively by addressing a number of factors, including:

  • Better understanding of the role
  • Selection of the right people to act as SROs
  • Giving SROs real accountability and business authority to resolve issues
  • Ensuring SROs have relevant delivery skills and experience, including commercial awareness
  • SROs dedicating sufficient time to the role
  • Improved continuity of the role through the project life-cycle
  • Improved tools, guidance and development opportunities for SROs
  • Provision of adequate supporting resources