This applies to all projects no matter if you use any form of agile or waterfall project management methodology.
As an example let's look at a "typical" project in the technology industry. This could be a new system implementation or a system improvement of an existing system like SAP ERP, Oracle, Salesforce, Apttus, BigMachines etc.
Usually there are the following stakeholders
- Project Sponsor - that is the person / group of people that requested this project e.g. Head of Sales. They usually have a clear business objective in mind that this project is expected to meet. Example: When the current Salesforce improvement project is done the forecasting accuracy increases from x% to y%
- Business Team - this is the person / team that provides the detailed requirements that will ensure we can meet the objective from the project sponsor. This could be e.g. Sales Manager or a Sales Operations VP. This person/team knows the current challenges and works with IT to tell them what they need. Usually there will be KPIs/metrics to measure a before/after status to determine how successful the project was. The members of this team are business specialists.
- IT Team - this is the team that will review the business requirements from the business team and determine how they can implement this solution technically in the best possible way. This could be e.g. System Architect or IT SVP. The members of this team are technical specialists that setup the solution. Example: If this is an Apttus implementation project this will be someone who sets up the contract management in Apttus.
- Project Management - this person/team is helping to organize the project to ensure it's scope, time and resource objectives are met. In the best case the Project Manager is very familiar with the subject matter (e.g. PM knows SAP ERP) so that they can provide the best planning to meet the project objectives. These resources are usually neither business nor IT specialists.
- Who is the Project Sponsor?
- What are the Project Sponsor's expectations or in other words what makes this project a success from the Project Sponsor point of view?
If the Project Sponsor is from the Business the expectations are most likely very different. They will probably seek more guidance on how certain goals can be achieved. How did other customers in the same industry or even a different industry tackle this problem? What system tools or business processes did they use to achieve these goals? What business requirements do they recommend to address and what is the expected impact based on experience? Example: How can I best achieve my goal of raising my revenue in the US by 10%? They will most likely focus more on the business experience and subject matter expertise instead of a BMI certification. The expectation is probably a well thought out plan on what needs to be implemented and the time frame by when this can be done.
Conclusion: The Project Team needs to keep in mind who is sponsoring the project and what their objectives are. This will determine if the project can be successful.
Even if you have the best business focused specialist available on an IT focused project there is a higher chance of this project not being successful. So chose your resources on a project carefully (as far as that is possible). Keep in mind that what I wrote above is an example and in a real project this can be very different and hence the Project Management Team ( or PMO or Manager) should always build a close relationship with all stakeholders to ensure the Project Sponsor objectives are understood early and clearly in the project. This is especially important if you work in any kind of Service Provider capacity to ensure you are not signing up for something you will struggle to deliver.