Last month, our Singapore office hosted a PMO event for project leaders from a range of global and multinational organisations. A key theme in the evening’s discussions was the absence of positive, impactful dialogue between program stakeholders and executives.
Despite an array of evidence showing project sponsorship enhances success likelihood, only 60% of programs have a dedicated sponsor. That said, we are seeing an increase in sponsor engagement being integrated at various points of a project’s duration.
The role of the sponsor is unique and wears many hats; whether it be fostering stronger alignment, mentoring, critiquing, or negotiating, they essentially adopt a holistic role and assume significant levels of project outcome accountability. A sponsor that has been engaged part or mid-way through a project will have additional complexities, requiring them to get up to speed quickly.
With that in mind, we’ve summarised a quick checklist for sponsors coming in to the projects beyond that of the outset:
Why? First thing’s first. Is the project still viable and are there realisable benefits in progress? The sponsor, particularly if engaged later, needs to make a thorough assessment of the current business case as well as ask the question of when it was last reviewed. At this interim stage of engagement, it is crucial that the sponsor gains quick clarity around if/how benefits will be realised, and if the business case still stacks up.
What? What methodology and framework is currently being used across the program? In order to understand and navigate a project effectively, the sponsor will need an acute understanding of the environment and if/where it might fit into an overarching programme. Whether project stakeholders are using agile methods, more traditional processes, or a blend, having strong knowledge of this will best position the sponsor ahead of manoeuvring through inevitable challenges and process related implications.
Who? Much like getting up to speed on the process, a truly engaged sponsor will quickly get to know who the project associated stakeholders are. From the steering committee, through to project coordinators, knowing who is a driving force and where their experience lies is valuable information when navigating stakeholder related decisions, direction and timing.
When? This comes back to viability in the sense that the sponsor will need to review timelines and whether or not they are still feasible. Status reports should provide easily accessible insights such as key delivery dates, specific deliverables, and potential timing constraints.
How? Finally, a thorough assessment of the governance framework and how the project has generally run to date, should give the sponsor an indication of critical areas to address. From risk management, through to policy and communication channels, a full analysis of the current state of the project will allow for a clearer picture of ‘how’ in terms of moving forward.
A well-informed and engaged sponsor can play a significant role in bridging the communication gap between influencers and implementers. In gaining thorough knowledge of the fundamental areas of a project, an effective sponsor will harness their insights and experience to increase collaboration and support, foresee and reduce risk, and ultimately drive a greater likelihood for a successful project outcome.
For more information on ensuring effective sponsorship, contact us on +65 6818 5771.