Getting Project Management Right: Project Sponsorship and Experience from the Field

The role of a project sponsor is, arguably, the most important role in managing a project. The sponsor is accountable for the overall success of the project.

There are many articles that outline the roles and responsibilities of a project sponsor, however, what is missing is addressing the culture and behaviour of a sponsor.

From our experience, the characteristics of a successful project sponsor, who will drive a project to reach its full potential, include:

  • They believe and are invested in the project and have their heart and soul behind it.
  • They have an understanding of the problem and the benefits that a project is going to solve and deliver.
  • They set the project vision, goals and objectives and make sure all stakeholders know them.
  • They are there to support the project manager.

  • They build strong working relationships.
  • They are open, honest and appear confidant to the team.
  • They are always asking “how can I help”?
  • They have the ability and courage to change the direction of a project, if needed.

Formal roles that a project sponsor should take on, include:

  • Providing clear direction and expectations on outcomes.
  • Providing the goals and charter for the improvements.
  • Ensuring the improvement initiatives align with business strategy.
  • Providing management support to drive the initiatives.
  • Engaging key stakeholders.
  • Providing resources.
  • Keeping up-to-date on the progress through regular meetings with the team leader.
  • Clearing roadblocks/barriers for the team.
  • Providing guidance to the team.
  • Attending gate reviews.
  • Visibly supporting and advocating for the improvement initiatives.

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