Project Management

Project Sponsorship: Effective and Productive Engagement Key to Success

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

It is all too common for project managers to view a project’s sponsor as the person who does little more than endorse a project. Often, PMs try to recruit a sponsor, someone who has the power and political clout to get the project approved. Project sponsors are far more than a figure head. They should never need recruiting. Instead, they should be the originator of the project’s concept, be the driver of the project’s business case and be the one working with the PM to ensure the project is successful.

So with that in mind, let’s re-examine what project sponsors do, what their role and responsibility is to the project’s they sponsor, and how PMs can leverage them to promote project success.

Let’s start this process by establishing a definition for project sponsorship. Wikipedia defines Project Sponsorship as:

“…the ownership of projects on behalf of the client organization…project sponsorship includes the identification and definition of the project…the project sponsor is responsible for the project’s business case and should not hesitate to recommend cancellation of the project if the business case no longer justifies the project.”

Using this definition, a project’s sponsor:

  • Owns
  • Defines
  • Provides the Business Case
  • Recommends continuance or cancellation …

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