Capital Investment Project roles and responsibilities

The following are designated roles and responsibilities of each committee, group and individual required to plan, approve and deliver capital investment projects

College roles

College Council

College Council approves the capital investment plan on an annual basis. In addition, they receive reports from the Finance Committee to confirm approval for large capital expenditure over £30 million.

College Council has authority to approve:

  • Imperial's capital investment plan on an annual basis with interim updates whenever necessary
  • Feasibility study requests and design fees (greater than £5 million)
  • Projects (greater than £30 million)
  • Change outside approved budget on projects above £30m (that exceed a maximum 10% of total project cost) Note: This only applies to project changes and does not apply to variations between a project’s initial cost estimates and the receipt of firm tenders.

Refer to Imperial College London's Governance Structure.

Finance Committee

Finance Committee considers the College's long term financial plans and its financial operations, as well as considering risks related to liquidity, debt, resource allocation, and financial contingencies. The decisions of this committee are formally reported to College Council.

Finance Committee review all escalated proposed projects that exceed the financial authority level of the Resource Allocation Board (RAB).

Finance Committee has delegated authority to approve:

  • Feasibility study requests and design fees (greater than £5 million)
  • Projects (£10 million to £30 million - if 'approved or planned' in the Capital Plan)
  • Review and scrutinise large projects greater than £30m with recommendations to Council.

Change outside approved budget on projects between £10 million to £30 million (maximum 10% of total project cost) Note: This only applies to project changes and does not apply to variations between a project’s initial cost estimates and the receipt of firm tenders.

The current membership of the Finance committee is to be found on this link.

Resource Allocation Board (RAB)

RAB agrees capital allocation across the Core University and Related Ventures. RAB review all escalated proposed projects that exceed the financial authority level of the Project Review Meeting (PRM).

RAB has authority to approve:

  • Projects £1 million to £10 million – if ‘approved or planned’ in the Capital Plan
  • Projects > £10 million will be reviewed and signed off if ‘previously approved in principle’ by Council.
  • Review and scrutinise projects > £10m with recommendations to Finance Committee/ Council.
  • Change outside approved budget on projects up to £10 million (maximum 10% of total project cost). Note: This only applies to project changes and does not apply to variations between a project’s initial cost estimates and the receipt of firm tenders.

The members are:

  • President – Chair (Alice Gast)
  • Provost (Professor Ian Walmsley)
  • CFO (Muir Sanderson)

Estate Strategy Group (ESG)

The objective of the ESG is to plan and develop a 5-10 year Estates Strategy to be recommended for agreement by College Council.  This overall estate strategy will be informed by academic plans, the diversification of income investing strategies and the emerging masterplan for South Kensington and White City South campuses. This will also help with the annual planning round decisions, cost control, cost oversight, Faculty contribution and understanding the Faculty Strategy is in alignment of the College Strategy.  

This group will also discuss and resolve any internal issues associated with agreeing the overall estate strategy and development of the College Estate.

ESG meets monthly, just prior to the Project Review Meeting (PRM).

The members are:

  • Associate Provost (Academic Planning) - Chair
  • Vice Provost – Education
  • Vice Provost – Research
  • Assistant Provost - Space
  • Director of Estates Operations
  • Head of Space Management and Planning
  • Head of Capital Investment & Appraisal
  • Commercial Finance Cost Manager
  • Capital Accountant

Project Review Meeting (PRM)

The objective of the Project Review Meeting is to review and authorise applications for capital work funding, ensuring that projects are aiding delivery of the College core academic mission, and are delivering value for money.

PRM has authority to approve:

  • Client briefs
  • Feasibility study requests (up to feasibility study costs of £100,000 if project 'approved or planned' in the Capital Plan) 
  • Minor projects (£150k to £1m - if 'approved or planned' in the Capital Plan)
  • Faculty projects £150k to £1m (if 'approved or planned' in the Capital Plan or if it can be accommodated within the Faculty Small Projects budget)
  • Change outside approved budget up to £100k
  • Exception reports 

All proposed projects must be submitted to PRM for review and approval.

PRM will escalate all proposed projects that exceed its financial authority level to RAB, Finance Committee and/or Council for approval provided they are sound financially and academically.

Project Review Meeting membership:

  • Associate Provost (Academic Planning) - Chair
  • Director of Estates Operations
  • Head of Capital Investment & Appraisal
  • Commercial Finance Cost Manager
  • Capital Accountant

Project Board

The Project Board is project-specific; a Project Board is formed on each and every construction project. The Project Board has key responsibilities for the direction and management of the project. This includes setting the tolerances that the Project Manager may work within to deliver the project, management by exception and providing guidance and support to the Project Manager.

The Project Board structure consists of:

  • Client or his/her representative
  • Project Director
  • User Coordinator
  • Internal Project Manager
  • External Project Manager
  • External Cost manager

The Project Director chairs the meetings.

Project Board Responsibilities

To be successful, the Project Board members shall have sufficient authority to make decisions, approve plans and authorise any necessary deviation from Stage Plans within tolerance. The Project Board shall have authority to allocate resources to the project and be capable of adequately representing the business, user and supplier interests. Ideally they will be able to stay with the project throughout its life cycle. The Project Board will make appropriate time, cost and quality decisions in response to information received from the Project Manager/Cost Manager.

See Appendix (below) for Project Board's Design Stage activities.

Change Control

All parties involved in the delivery of a project including the Client, End-Users, Consultants and Contractors are required to be aware of the change control process.

Changes to agreed designs, specifications and cost parameters require College approval and will only be implemented once approval is given.  This applies to all elements of the project pre and post contract.

Project Managers to attend weekly change control meetings with the Director of Estates Operations and/or Head of Projects, together with the Commercial Finance Cost Manager to obtain written approval for changes.

The Change Control form guide sets out the change control process to be adopted on all projects.

Client (previously Project Champion)

The Client for all academic projects will be either the President, the Provost, the Vice-Provosts for Research and Education or the Associate Provost (Academic Planning) or their delegated representatives.

For non-academic projects, the client will be the person accountable for delivering the benefits.

It is to the Client that the project teams defer and the Client will have to present the strategic rationale to the Finance Committee or Council and will then be held accountable.

The Client has overall responsibility for delivery of the project and achieving the benefits associated with the investment and representing the end-users. Key responsibilities include:

  • Visionary and strategic direction
  • Understanding and representing the user community/Business interests
  • Taking the major lead when change in direction is needed
  • Communicating effectively within and outside the project.

Project Director

The Project Director’s role is to ensure that the project is focussed throughout its life on achieving its objectives.  Throughout the project the Project Director is responsible for ensuring that the Project stays in line with its Business Case.

The Project Director will attend the Project Board meetings and has delegated authority to make decisions relating to Change Control and approval of Stage Design and is supported in the decision making by the User Coordinator and the Internal Project Manager.

 The Project Director is the Chair of the Project Board.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Actively ensuring delivery against the business case
  • Responsible for delivery within agreed scope
  • Oversee the development of the Project Brief
  • Oversee the development of the detailed Business Case
  • Secure the funding for the project
  • Hold the Internal Project Manager to account for the quality and integrity of the supply chain
  • Monitor and control the progress of the project at a strategic level, in particular reviewing the Business Case regularly. 
  • Escalate issues and risks to PRM if project tolerances are forecast to be exceeded.
  • Ensure that the risks associated with the Business Case are identified, assessed and controlled.

External Project Manager

The External Project Manager is appointed by Estates Operations (an internal Project Manager may undertake this role if instructed by Head of Estates Operations). Their main role is to ensure the effective operation and management of the project. This includes developing the brief, specification, procurement strategy and project programme.

The External Project Manager shall take direction from the Project Board and report to the Project Board on a regular basis.

The development and agreement of the Project Brief is a two-stage process which involves the active participation of the Client, User Coordinator and Project Manager. The external Project Manager ensures that the project brief complies with necessary standards and legislation set by statutory bodies, planning authorities. The external Project Manager works with College Purchasing - Category Manager (Construction) in the selection and appointment of consultants.

During the project, the external Project Manager provides ongoing project reports for reviewing budgetary statements and monitors progress and expenditure on the project.

The External Project Management appointment document outlines a detailed description of the scope of services however the key responsibilities are: -

  • To lead the Project Team and manage the day-to-day running of the project
  • To drive the effective development of the project brief and specification within the project budget
  • To ensure that the brief is agreed and signed off with the Client and User Coordinator
  • To involve the Estates and College Duty Holders in the briefing process to ensure all necessary legislation and standards are met
  • To liaise with the Category Manager (Construction) and manage consultants and contractors over the life of the project
  • To liaise where appropriate with the Faculty Principal(s), Head(s) of Department, Building Manager(s) and various user groups
  • To ensure effective mechanisms exist to monitor, manage and control the project delivery

To deliver the project within the agreed budget and timeframe

Internal Project Manager (previously Senior Supplier)

The Internal Project Manager represents the Estates Operations Division within the construction project and provides supplier resources. They represent the interests of those designing, developing, facilitating, procuring and implementing the construction project. This role is accountable for the quality of products and services delivered by the consultants and contractors and is responsible for the technical integrity of the construction project. The Internal Project Manager is a mandatory member of the Project Board.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Assess and confirm the viability of the project approach
  • Ensure that the proposals for designing and developing the project are realistic
  • Advise on the selection of design, development and acceptance methods
  • Ensure that the supplier resources are made available
  • Make decisions on escalated issues, with particular emphasis on safeguarding the integrity of the complete solution
  • Resolve supplier requirements and priority conflicts
  • Brief non-technical management on supplier aspects of the project
  • Ensure that quality procedures are used correctly, so that products adhere to requirements and College standards
  • Undertake project assurance from the supplier perspective

To ensure the project team deliver within an agreed budget and timeframe

User Coordinator

The User Coordinator is appointed by the Client to act as the single point of contact and to ensure the Faculty/Department/Division's requirements and views are presented and reflected during the briefing process. The User Coordinator is responsible for specifying the needs of those who will use the projects products, for user liaison with the project management team, and for monitoring that the solution will meet those needs within the constraints of the Business Case in terms of quality, functionality and ease of use.

The User Coordinator is a mandatory member of the Project Board.

The size of the project may require one or more briefing sessions with the Project Manager and on major projects may require participation from a Project Steering Group.  This would be a bespoke group with relevant membership and remit.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Act as a single point of contact for the Faculty/Division
  • Represent the views and needs of the Faculty/Division
  • Provide detailed information on the physical area and client requirements (excluding record information)
  • Ensure decanting, clearance and staffing issues are considered
  • Work with the Project Manager (Internal and/or External) to develop a brief specification, and to sign-off the project specification on behalf of the Faculty
  • Ensure the Faculty is made aware of any adverse effects of the project works (for example informing of noise disruption and access issues)
  • Ensure the Faculty/Division fulfils its responsibilities to the project - providing information, assisting in coordinating activities within the Faculty/Division
  • Provide the customers’ quality expectations and define acceptance criteria for the project.
  • Ensure that the desired outcome of the project is specified and meets user requirements
  • Resolve user requirements and priority conflicts
  • Ensure that any user resources required for the project are made available.
  • Brief and advise user management on all matters concerning the project.
  • Undertake project assurance from the user perspective.

Person Specification:

Ideally the User Coordinator shall possess the following attributes to undertake the role effectively:

  • An appropriate level of seniority within the Faculty/Department they represent to allow robust challenges as and when required
  • The time available to undertake the duties
  • A good working knowledge of Faculty/Department operations
  • A good level of diplomacy when dealing with various departmental user groups and the Project Team.
  • Good interpersonal and influencing skills
  • Effective communication skills


Project Board – Design Stage activities

Stage 0 to 2

  • Confirm project tolerances with the Project Review Meeting (PRM)
  • Approve the Project Brief
  • Approve the Stage Plan for Stage 0-1
  • Agree change protocol
  • Approve the supplier contracts
  • Authorise the start of the project

Stages 3 to 7

  • Set tolerances for each Stage and approve Stage Plans
  • Authorise each project stage and approve client requirements for each stage
  • Approve exception reports on change to client requirement with no cost or programme impact. Authorise an exception plan to be submitted to PRM if cost or programme tolerance is forecast to be exceeded
  • Communicate with stake holders. Provide overall guidance and direction to the project, ensuring it remains viable
  • Respond to requests for advice from the Project Manager
  • Ensure that risks are being tracked and managed as effectively as possible
  • Approve change within tolerance
  • Make decisions on escalated issues.

Responsibilities at the end of the project:

  • Provide assurance that the project has been delivered satisfactorily
  • Confirm acceptance of the project
  • Approve the End Project Report and ensure that any lessons and risk are documented and passed onto the appropriate body
  • Authorise project closure.

See Project Board, above.