Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Being a Project Sponsor Means Championing a Cause

~ By Tim Millett

Businessman with his hands together

When talking about the positions on a project team, the ones that come to mind first are project leader, project manager and team members. Time is spent designing the project, selecting the right team members, establishing the critical path leading to end goals and establishing a reporting and measurement system. Unfortunately, what many firms discover is that the project still seems to get off course even with all the elements so carefully aligned.

A project team, in the final analysis, needs what every team requires and that is a champion, or someone who keeps the team spirit alive while steering the project to ultimate success. A team also needs someone who serves as a negotiator who interfaces between the team and the rest of the organisation. The project managers and project leader are busy focusing solely on the project, but this can actually serve to isolate the team from the rest of the organisation unless there is a project sponsor governing the project as a component of a larger enterprise.

That is where a project sponsor is invaluable. The sponsor is a key position which assumes several roles as project champion, project reviewer, project communicator and project diplomat.

Project Champion

As a team champion, the project sponsor plays a critical role in keeping the endurance, interest and viability of the team alive and well. A project usually takes weeks, months, and sometimes even years to complete. A team is made up of people and anything which relies on human resources is never going to be static.

Building a team requires a number of people and departments working well together on an ongoing basis. But just about the time the team is functioning like a well-oiled machine, a key player will quit or personalities will clash. Maintaining a team co-operative spirit to keep the project moving forward requires a project sponsor to serve as the champion of the team by helping it reform itself as necessary to stay effective.

In other words, the project sponsor is the unifying force that keeps the team on track for the duration of the project.

Project Reviewer

The project sponsor has the responsibility for reviewing the project status from an executive viewpoint. Though the project managers and leaders are performing review functions, the project sponsor has a more organisationally broad review responsibility.

In other words, the project sponsor reviews the status of the project in relation to the organisation as a whole. The sponsor review tracks the project in terms of timelines, budget tolerances and resource availability. This position serves as an interface between the organisation and the project itself. When a review indicates the need for more support, resources, a redirection, or any other issue which impacts the ability of the project to proceed as planned, the sponsor is responsible for taking appropriate action.

Project Communicator

The project sponsor has key communication responsibilities. The sponsor is the person who communicates project needs to the project steering committee or executive staff. The sponsor has the critical duty of insuring the organisation as a whole understands the goals of the project and provides the ongoing support the project needs for success.

Project Diplomat

It is seldom a project reaches its goals without experiencing problems along the way. The possible problems are varied, but it is the ones which require diplomacy skills for resolution that can be the most difficult. For example, interdepartmental conflict requires sensitive diplomacy, which balances the need to get the project back on track with the need to force adherence to organisational policies and procedures.

The project sponsor plays the role of diplomat in a number of ways:

  • Conveying project status to the ultimate organisational authority
  • Resolving external issues impacting project success
  • Negotiating project goal or objective changes
  • Establishes team and organisation-wide communication programme

The project sponsor is the person who is responsible for controlling the project in a way that benefits and outcomes are achieved. This requires the ability to manage, co-ordinate, and most importantly, communicate.


Timothy Millett, head trainer at i perform, has extensive expertise in performance training, sales training and customer service training. Tim has helped participants from organisations such as SWIFT and UBS achieve peak levels of personal performance. For more information please visit i perform


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Is it true or false that green is a number?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

12 Tips for Being a Good Manager

Businessman revealing the inner superhero

Keeping a project management team running smoothly can be a challenge, especially when budgets are lean and expectations are high.

The Mythical 50% Resource

Red blocks with the percent sign on a white background

Most managers of software development projects have had an encounter with a resource who is committed to their project some percentage of the time.

Helping Project Teams Succeed

Business team brainstorming using coloured labels on a table in an office

Project teams will be successful when the right environmental conditions exist; sadly this is not always the case.

How Agile Practices Reduce Requirements Risks

Road warning sign - Risks Ahead

Every software project carries some risk, but many of these risks can be mitigated. That's true of problems related to product requirements.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Joseph Marandus commented on…
How to Apply PRINCE2: Engaging Senior Management in Your Projects
- Tue 21 March 1:59pm

Janine Greene commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Fri 17 March 1:30pm

Ben commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Sun 12 March 12:30pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • No Sponsor https://t.co/ii52CgAiCs #projectsmart #pmot about 7 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Software Product Delivery Plan for an Agile project https://t.co/v8ondVdaME #projectsmart #pmot about 7 days ago

General Project Management • Re: How do you track who from your human resources have related… https://t.co/QzAyOJ27cp #projectsmart #pmot about 8 days ago