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What is the difference between a project sponsor and a project owner?

I work a project assistant in a multi-national company and I hear both of these terms a lot and I don't know what's the difference. They seem to have the same role and responsibilities.

Can someone please explain to me how a project sponsor differs from the project owner?
asked 8 years ago by anonymous

2 Answers


There could be different answers to that depending of the management culture.

I would tend to say:

PS: Is the persons who secure the financing and overall resource budget approval. Further s/he owns the opportunuties & risk related to the financial outcome of the project (Owner of the BC).
S/he does not contribute in the daily project work.
Member or chairman of the steering committee.

PO: Is the person who has the largest part of the tasks/resources in his/hers department or division.
S/he has the largest resouce impact of the project (not the same as the biggest project impact).
S/he does contribute in the overall project management.

Member or chairman of the steering committee

Project regards
Senior Project manager (IPMA)
Henrik K. Søndergaard
answered 7 years ago by anonymous

The Project Sponsor is the Project Owner, they're both the same role. I have noticed that the use of the term Project Owner is mostly common in the UK. In most other countries, the term Project Sponsor is used.

Since you work in a multi-national country, that might be the reason why you hear both terms.

Note that the Project Sponsor/Project Owner is also a Project Stakeholder (but not the other way around, a project stakeholder is not necessarily a project sponsor). This is basic but I've seen this confused so many times that I thought I had to mention this remark.
answered 8 years ago by humblepm (17,390 points)
I do not agree. The Project Sponsor is is the individual that provides the financial resources for the project. The Project Owner is the “receiver” of a project (its customer),  which is not necessarily the same. One is the "bank" for the project; the other one is its customer. Often these roles may be played by the same indivual/group, but not always.
7 years ago by anonymous
Anonymous, thanks for your feedback on this question, and clarifying the difference between the two. I have to agree though that what makes things confusing is that the roles are often played by the same person (in fact, I've never seen a project where the project sponsor is NOT the project owner).
7 years ago by humblepm (17,390 points)
In mega projects (infrastructure projects) where Public-Private Partnerships are common, there is a clear distinction between project owner and project sponsor. The owner is the one who initiates the project, i.e. mostly a governmental body. The sponsor is the one who finances the project and in return gets the concension for the revenues.
6 years ago by anonymous
We do like to differ with your observation, stating that the project sponsor need not necessarily be the project owner this holds good especially for BOT (BUILT OPERATE AND TRANSFER) projects. For better clarity usually in these type of projects the funding will be done by the financial institutions and the client will be the developer. For instance the DELHI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT is being managed by GMR and the funding was done by the consortium of banks which would be the sponsor. Hope what we presented makes sense pl clarify
6 years ago by anonymous

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