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The Importance of the Project Sponsor’s Involvement
By Gina Abudi

First, let’s define Sponsor. According to the Project Management Institute’s, The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide, the Sponsor “is the person or group [of people] that provides the financial resources, in cash or in kind, for the project.” As defined by Wikipedia.com, “….(t)he project sponsor will be a senior executive in a corporation who is responsible to the business for the success of the project.”

While the project sponsor may not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the project in usual circumstances, he/she is the champion of the project. Project managers (PMs) should be able to rely on the sponsor to be involved in the project beyond just the initial support of initiating the project. The larger the project, the more involvement that might be required from the sponsor to help ensure a successful end result. The sponsor does have quite a few responsibilities, including:

  • Developing the business case
  • Securing funding
  • Selecting the project manager
  • Assisting in the development of the project scope and charter
  • Securing resources – human resources, facilities, equipment, etc.
  • Assisting with identifying the stakeholders
  • Clarifying any questions regarding the project scope once the project is underway
  • Reviewing and approving any changes to the schedule and budget if such changes exceed the PM’s authority
  • Monitoring the progress
  • Providing direction to the PM on federal, state or international regulations or any other compliance requirements for specific industries that may exist
  • Assisting the PM by getting involved in making key go/no go decisions, authorizing changes in the scope, solving problems that arise, and helping to secure additional resources if necessary

If contract resources are required, the sponsor will review and approve procurement strategies and plans. The sponsor will assist in selecting the most appropriate vendors and will negotiate contracts with the selected vendors. Depending on the authority level of the PM, the sponsor may be involved in, or oversee another individual responsible for, authorizing contractor work and reviewing all contractor invoices, including authorizing payment for the work.

The sponsor should also work closely with the PM to measure the project’s performance against the baseline, identifying any variances from the plan in areas of cost, scope, schedule and quality. If required, the sponsor will take the lead on ensuring that corrective actions are put in place to avoid such variances and keep the project moving forward.

Project managers I have spoken to, from a variety of industries, tell me that when they have a sponsor who is involved their job becomes easier. They have the support they need to ensure it is successful and feel, frankly, that there is someone higher up in the organization “who has their back.” This leads to an increase in the number of successful projects.

In summary, the sponsor is the person or persons the PM and the team can turn to for support. The sponsor should have reach throughout the organization to ensure that the PM gets what he/she needs to ensure ultimate success.

In your opinion, what else can the sponsor do to help? What other support do you as a PM need?

Gina Abudi Blog http://www.GinaAbudi.com

Website http://www.PeakPerformanceGroup.com

Gina Abudi has over 15 years consulting experience in a variety of areas, including project management, process management, leadership development, succession planning, high potential programs, talent optimization and development of strategic learning and development programs. She is Partner/VP Strategic Solutions at Peak Performance Group, Inc. in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She has been honored by PMI® as one of the Power 50 and has served as Chair of PMI®s Global Corporate Council Leadership Team. She has presented at various conferences on topics ranging from general management and leadership topics to project management. Gina received her MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.

Copyright © 2009 – 2010 Gina Abudi – All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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