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The Types of Project Sponsors
By Andrew Meyer

Ideally, the sponsor has a stake, is invested in making the project succeed, and has enough time to dedicate to the project. In practice, this is not always the case. Below is a list of the different types of project sponsors.

The Ideal Sponsor

Understands the business purpose, knows the main business people necessary to make the project succeed, dedicates the time to understand intuitively what is happening on the project and has a personal stake in making the project succeed.

The Showcase Sponsor

This is a sponsor who is very highly ranked in the company, maybe the CIO or even CEO. Be careful of these types of sponsors. It’s gratifying to be working with people at the top of the house, but in all likelihood, they don’t have much time to dedicate to the project. Be very careful if you can’t secure time every week with your sponsor.

The “I want to be more important” Sponsor

A sponsor needs to have enough clout in the company that they can break down walls and solve problems. It doesn’t help if they have to go to their boss to solve the problem, they need to solve it themselves. If the company has a steering committee, they need to sit on the steering committee. Be careful if your sponsor has bitten off more than they can chew.

The “always on a plane” Sponsor

There are some sponsors who really do want to help, but somehow they are never around. Phone calls, IM’s, skype and all the rest are nice, but it’s even better if you can talk to your sponsor face to face. They are your partner making the project work.

The Lone Wolf

Be very careful if you are working for someone who tries to limit your access to the rest of the organization or who wants to develop the project in secret. In some cases this is necessary and beneficial, but in other cases, the person can be going off on their own little adventure and if they lose the support of the organization, it can all come tumbling down fast!

Andrew Meyer studied systems and industrial engineering before spending fifteen years implementing global IT and Business Process Re-Engineering projects. Frustrated with seeing communication issues hurt projects again and again, he returned to get his MBA from the University of Southern California and focused on project communications and risk management. To apply this to real-world problems, Andrew founded the Capability Alignment Professionals (http://www.CompanyAlign.com), which is dedicated to aligning incentives and encouraging communications. He discusses these issues in his blog Inquiries Into Alignment (http://alignmentinquiries.blogspot.com/)

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