The Role of a Project Sponsor

project sponsorThe project sponsor makes sure that the project is aligned with the strategic goals of the organisation. The sponsor shapes and approves the project brief which sets the direction for the project, defining what should be accomplished, how much risk the organisation is willing to tolerate, and what limitation will be placed on the project (deadline, staff effort limit, spending limit, other constraints).

  • Most project teams start their projects without a project brief and have no clear direction for the project. This can create massive rework further down the line and may result in a dissatisfied customer at the end of the project.
  • Very few organisations have their functional goals aligned with the project goals. This makes it very difficult for the project team to meet the project’s objectives.

The project sponsor balances the needs of the organisation with the needs of the customer. Sometimes these needs are in conflict and it’s the sponsor’s job to make the call between the two.

  • Most sponsors are unaware that their role is to mesh these two sets of needs. As a result, the needs of the customer often dominate the process.

The sponsor acts as a liaison to the organisation’s projects steering body. It is the steering body that selects and prioritises projects and then allocates resources to those projects based on their priority status. Without adequate resources, no project can be successful.

  • Many organisations do not have a steering body and do not allocate available resources to projects – instead they allocate resources without knowledge of whether or not there are resources available.

The sponsor chooses the project manager. The sponsor is accountable for the success of the project manager and the success of the project. In order to fulfil that accountability, the sponsor fulfils his role as sponsor and acts as a coach and mentor to the project manager.

  • Most project sponsors leave the project manager to primarily fend for himself.

The sponsor removes obstacles and resolves issues that cannot be resolved by the project team. This requires the sponsor to take an active role in the project, when asked.

  • Active sponsors want to micromanage rather than support. Passive sponsors avoid getting sufficiently involved

The sponsor provides oversight to the project – reviewing and approving the project plan, change requests, having status meetings with the project leader. The sponsor reports back to the steering body on the progress of the project. Sponsors need to ensure that standard project processes and documentation is used to manage all projects

  • In many organisations, IT may have a method but admin or NPD uses a different method or no method at all.