Project Management Central
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I have a very different understanding for the Project Sponsor. You see the project Sponsor as the provider of Project finance. I see the Sponsor as the Champion of the project.
The Sponsor role is not limited to the finance. He is there to represent the project outside of the project Environment. He defends the project interests and makes sure it gets the required attention from all stakeholders. He is also the one defending the project priority in a portfolio.
Financially however the Sponsor is providing the cash, he is first of all the owner of the Business Case, the balance between costs and benefits. His financial input is than limited by the potential benefits of the project. Some methodologies like Prince2 include also a role for the main supplier and for the user. The user being responsible for the benefits side of the project and the supplier for the cost side.
If you consider the various approaches that the Sponsor must handle, he really becomes the Project Owner.
Every time I have got the opportunity of working with a real Sponsor, he was really the Champion of the projet. He was the one I could go to when I had an issue outside of my sphere of influence. He was a strong motivator for the external stakeholders.
Having the right Sponsor is a real asset for a project. Talking about Management Commitment is really talking about Sponsor commitment.
The Sponsor term is used in almost all contexts whereas the Owner term is only used in some and may be industry specific.
As Patrice has indicated, the Sponsor is nearly always expected to be a champion for the project and usually acts as the conduit for providing funding to the project. They may not have the funding themselves but would be responsible for securing it from those that do.
Where I have heard the Owner term used is as someone that has responsibility for the business processes which will be improved or affected by the project. In such cases, the Owner might be the sponsor but if they are at too high a level in the organization to be able to spare the time for the role, one of their trusted reports might be appointed as the Sponsor.
in my view reducing the sponsor role to providing funds may be contributing to one of the root causes of project trouble: lack of executive support.
There is only one sponsor standard I know of, the one from GAPPS, and they define 3 main responsibilities for a sponsor:
1. Take accountability for the project
1.1 Ensure the project is justified.
1.2 Sustain effective governance.
1.3 Orchestrate plans for benefits realisation.
2. Support the project manager
2.1 Be available to the project manager.
2.2 Assist the project manager with conflict management.
2.3 Provide feedback on the
performance of the project manager.
3. Support the project
3.1 Resource availability is sustained. (which includes funding)
3.2 Cultivate stakeholder commitment.
3.3 Ensure readiness for project reviews.
3.4 Provide decisions in a timely manner.
Look it up here: https://www.pmprofessions.org/download-tools
Several other definitions can be found, none of which focuses on funding. In my own experience, especially in programs, there often are multiple funding sources.
other notable definitions:
APM (UK): The sponsor has a critical role as part of the governance board of any project, programme or portfolio. The sponsor is accountable for ensuring that the work is governed effectively and delivers the objectives that meet identified needs.
PS - I enjoyed selecting a good sponsor for my projects and influencing them to support the project.
I agree with Kiron.
*Project sponsor is a stakeholder interested in the project, that has
*Project owners are accountable for the project's success or failure,
adequate completion on time and on budge, and with the defined
From the Prosci Change Management Methodology perspective, here is the link to Prosci's article describing the primary sponsor's role in change, The ABCs of Sponsorship, and the importance of sponsors during change.
I know all the books and teachings say what you are all saying but what I am saying is perhaps the terminology of "Sponsor" is used the wrong way given the term "Owner" reflects all control and sponsor reflects more of a financial flavour in general English
Jan 23, 2023 9:21 PM
Replying to Ian Baker
I do see owner more in terms of responsibility although I would loosely use the word control when talking about projects. The top level process of any major company spell out who has authority of what, and how that authority is delegated to whom. The owner is the position in the organization delegated to act on behalf of everyone else. In most businesses though, you have to lead people through influence. Trying to control them will lead to revolt.
The point is: project owner does not exists as a role. And that is because we are creating solutions where solution is the thing to be created plus the process to create it. Just my personal experience.
Project Sponsor and Project Owner, same thing in my experience - the person who has "the bat and the gold" as I once was taught (acknowledgement to whomever it was but apologies for not naming you as I can't recall), and who champions, defends and protects the project to all and sundry as needed. Where I believe some confusion creeps in though is with the term Business Owner; this is the person who takes delivery of the outcome of the project, and it may not be the Project Sponsor.
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