Key roles for artwork improvement projects

Key roles for artwork improvement projects

In my first three articles in this series on change and programme management of artwork improvement projects, I talked about some of the issues that need to be considered when setting up an artwork capability improvement programme, some of the change management aspects to consider to ensure the change is delivered in a sustainable way and how to design of individual improvement projects to ensure effective delivery.

In this article, I will look at the key roles required to undertake such projects.  There are numerous roles that can be required depending upon the size and complexity of a project.  The key ones (and corresponding responsibilities) we would identify are:


  • Executive ownership & support for project
  • Stakeholder engagement at highest levels in company
  • Provides strategic business direction

Process Owner/Business Lead

  • Business leadership of project
  • Owns the resulting capability
  • Project team’s immediate customer

Senior Subject Matter Expert

  • Provides knowledge of artwork capability and improvement methodology best practice
  • Involved in strategy development; as-is assessment; root cause analysis; business case development; project design; supplier selection and solution design

Functional Representatives and Change Agents

  • Represents their function on the project and contributes to many aspects of the project
  • Champions the project in their own function
  • Plays an active role in readying their function for the change

Project Manager

  • Manages effective delivery of the project

Change Management Lead

  • Defines change management approach on project
  • Ensures appropriate engagement of stakeholders at all levels
  • Ensures user readiness for change

IT Lead

  • Manages all aspects of IT solution design and delivery

Business Analyst

  • Develops IT business and functional requirements
  • Involved in detailed system design

Implementation Lead

  • Responsible for implementation approach design and execution

Stream  Leads

  • Manage individual areas of the project

Key Supplier Leads

  • Represents their organisation on the project and contributes to appropriate aspects of the project
  • Champions the project in their organisation
  • Responsible for readying their organisation for the change

In our experience, all change projects need sponsorship at a senior level in the organisation to be successful. Appointing a senior member of staff as sponsor for a project will go a long way to ensure this sponsorship occurs effectively. This person needs to be senior enough in the organisation to be able to provide significant influence over all of the key functions impacted by the project. They will support the project at very senior levels in the organisation and help guide the project though any political issues it may face.

Process Owner has the end-to-end responsibility to ensure that the process works effectively for the organisation. Therefore, this person needs to have the skills and capabilities to manage and develop a complex business process on an ongoing basis. The cross-functional and cross-organisation nature of artwork processes means that they also need to have the skills, respect and seniority to manage the process effectively across many parts of the organisation over which they have no line management jurisdiction. To be successful, they need to have the skills to manage and develop the process collaboratively with all impacted stakeholders. In many organisations, this role is also referred to as the project business owner.

The senior subject matter expert is a role that brings an overall knowledge of the artwork capability to the organisation. They should have a thorough understanding of artwork capabilities of all levels of capability, in order to help guide the organisation on the most appropriate solutions for them. Without this sort of input, many organisations will miss significant opportunities, make many avoidable mistakes and take significantly longer to achieve sustainable results than they otherwise could. More often than not, this role is external as it needs to bring an external perspective and experience to bear.

Functional leads represent each of the business functions and organisations impacted by the project. They play an active part in the project and the development of the future capability design with other members of the project team. They also play a key role as what we will call change agents. As change agents, they need to consult with their functions during the design to ensure that the views and experience of their function is fairly reflected in the new capability design. They also need to be champions of the change whenever they get an opportunity, helping to ensure that their function supports the project. If this is done well, it will significantly improve the chances of the future capability being accepted by the organisation.

It almost goes without saying that this sort of change initiative needs strong and experienced project management to be successful. The project manager needs to be chosen for their project management skills, particularly in multi-functional/organisation environments and to complement the change management skills available in the rest of the project senior team.

We would recommend dividing a complex project into a number of discrete blocks of activity or streams and assigning a stream lead to manage each area. The stream lead is effectively a project manager for their area of responsibility. This is often an excellent opportunity for future project managers or department managers to develop their knowledge and skills.

Depending on the nature of the project, there may be significant external suppliers involved. They may be outsource suppliers who will have an ongoing involvement in delivering the overall artwork capability, or they may be suppliers who are just involved in the execution of the project. In all cases, lead representatives from these organisations should be invited to take active participation in the project and its management activities.

In the next article in this series, I will look the programme management aspects of an artwork improvement programme.

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