Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Sponsorship and Leadership

Question 1: Do you have adequate business sponsorship and leadership?

Project sponsor meeting with the project team

21 Ways to Excel at Project Management

Good Practice: A senior business sponsor should be identified at the highest possible level in the organisation, and named in the Project Definition document.

A Steering Committee must be set up and become operational from the beginning of the project. The Steering Committee is responsible for taking all key decisions about the project and should be composed of senior managers from the business.

The chair of the Steering Committee has ultimate responsibility for the project. The Project Manager leads the project and is fully accountable for delivering the project described in the Project Definition document.

In his article Six Ways to Give Proper Project Leadership Dr. Keith Mathis offers this advice:

  • Create an atmosphere of trust.
  • Build the right team.
  • Spell everything out for your team up-front.
  • Monitor and give feedback.
  • Keep communication open.
  • Keep the end goal clearly in mind.

The project sponsor is perhaps the second most influential person on the project, after the project manager and in some cases may even wield more influence on project results. - Dave Nielsen

Common Mistakes

  • Wasting time and money on projects that do not have enough sponsorship, commitment or leadership to succeed.
  • Hoping that people who do not commit early, will find time later.
  • Not involving the sponsor with setting direction and keeping the project on track.

Note: Before you start your project, find a committed project sponsor who has enough clout in your organisation. Your project sponsor will prove invaluable in helping you overcome organisational roadblocks as they arise.

Put simply, a project without a senior business sponsor is at serious risk of failure.