Effective Sponsorship to Improve Project Success

Effective Sponsorship to Improve Project Success

Insights | 15 October 2012

Project Managers rely on Sponsors to own the business case, authorise actions and resolve challenges outside the control of the project manager, however, in my experience Sponsors typically misunderstand their role in the project team and how their contribution influences success or failure.

Whilst the role of the project manager is not to simply escalate without exploring various solutions, the role of the sponsor is not merely a figurehead; it is a principal accountability within any project.

Essentially the Project Sponsor is the accountable manager or executive who oversees a project, delegate’s authority to the Project Manager and is responsible for the business outcome.

Ultimately the Sponsor is there to ensure the project can realise the business case benefits and so needs sufficient authority or influence to get the cooperation of key stakeholders.

I have found the best sponsors demonstrate a strong interest and are recognised as leaders of change and decision makers and actively make decisions that steer the project in a particular direction.

The following are my top 10 characteristics of the sponsor’s role:

  1. Defines a clear and simple vision for the project
  2. Ensures the real business need is addressed and the project is aligned with strategy
  3. Ensures the project makes good use of assets
  4. Verifies the continued viability of the project and its progress
  5. Owns the business case and monitors the project to ensure the outcome will be realised
  6. Leads the Steering Committee and drives decisions to a conclusion
  7. Governs and approves plan, schedule, budget, changes and final deliverables
  8. Communicate to gain the support and commitment of the executive
  9. Monitors effectiveness of Project Manager
  10. Allocates time and energy to resolving cross functional issues that are out of the project managers control

Ultimately sponsors can be the link between project management and the executive who can enable the necessary organisational support to ensure the project delivers value to the business.

“With strong sponsorship the most complex project can succeed, with weak sponsorship the simplest project will struggle…”

Improving sponsors involvement in projects is a confronting task that often requires a unique approach. If you face challenges with sponsorship, governance or briefing senior executives please call to see how we could help. Contact Us.

“82% of organisations are striving to achieve a maturity rating of Level 3 or 4 within the next two years, with 16% hoping to achieve Level 5. The maturity rating aimed for will depend on a number of factors such as PMO resources available, the level of executive sponsorship, and organisational support of project management and PMO practices.”

PM-Partners group PMO Trends 2012 Research Report

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