5 Things Every Sponsor Should Know
By Bogdan Gorka
- You are accountable for the project
If you have a project in mind that has been requested by the organisation you work for, remember throughout the project duration that the project is yours. When you find a good project leader, he/she will be responsible for delivering the project but the accountability for its benefits (called also Business Case) stays with you. In real terms it means that if the project fails to deliver benefits, YOU personally will face the consequences regardless of the reasons of failure. Make sure you want to be a Sponsor for this project before making a final decision and make sure you want to actively support the project.
Ensure project alignment with your business strategy
There are many ideas people may have. New IT system, new processes, new departments – everything for the good of the company. But there is not enough resources, time and money to do everything. That is why only projects closely aligned with company strategy should be delivered. Otherwise, a project that is interesting for you may not be interesting for other departments. And they should be interested because in most cases you will not be able to do the project only with resources that report to you.
Choose a good project manager
Project Manager is the key to your project. The profile of the person you need depends heavily on the type and scale of the project in hand. Make sure that the person is knowledgable about managing projects and is well respected among people he is going to lead in your project. Just like you are supposed to mentor and supervise project leader, he/she are supposed to do the same with his team.
Champion your project in the organisation
Unless you help project leader with liasoning to the organisation, it may be very hard to win the attention for your project. Potential project members may be tight up with other projects and your project may be very low on their agenda.
That is why it is important to contact your peers early in the preparation phase, explain to them the project mission and strategic alignment. Also, put your project high in the priorities not only for you but also for others. Having it in the annual goals list is one of the tips I can give you here.
Direct project progress
Project spans over some period of time. It may be as short as three months and as long as 18 months. In either case your primary job is to provide direction to project leader. There may be some issues or unexpected obstacles on the way, your involvement is necessary when it is time to make decisions. That is why it is important to agree with a project manager to what extend he or she is authorised to make decisions and what decisions should be made by you and the Steering Committee. Also, you should be interested in receiving status reports and ask questions about the delivery process. There may be some risks that can be mitigated before it is too late.
Many Senior Executives find it easy to come up with an idea and kick the project off (all too often without proper planning). Sadly enough for project Managers, when the project sets off for the journey and first difficulties occur, project teams are left lonely with no external support and decisions from their Sponsors. Often due to lack of proper training in being a Sponsor.
Bogdan Gorka is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with more than 10 years of practical experience gained in the FMCG industry. Bogdan shares his IT project management experience in the blog: PMAdept.net