Executive Project Sponsors

Executive Project Sponsors

Insights | 09 June 2015

What is a Project Sponsor?

The Project Sponsor is the accountable manager/person who oversees a project, delegates authority to the Project Manager and is responsible for the business outcome.

What is the difference of an Executive Sponsor to a Project Sponsor?

The objectives of an Executive Sponsor and Project Sponsor are the same… to see the successful outcomes of the project.

However, an executive sponsor is usually appointed to significant projects that have a larger impact and benefit outcome for the organisation or business, i.e. the project requires a more significant influence and understanding of importance to the organisation or business. The Executive Sponsor is often at, or just below, board level and are commonly the funding source for the project or programme.

 What Role do they play?

How important is the Executive Sponsor to the Success of the Project Delivery?

Most people think of an Executive Sponsor as “the person in the organisation that secures the funds for the project and usually not seen until the project finalises.”

However; Executive Sponsors play a greater role than being the funding source for the project.

In our experience at PM-Partners group the most successful project outcomes, that deliver on the organisations strategy and the project benefits, is where there is a fully engaged Executive Sponsor.

Here are some tips to assist Executive Sponsors to ensure their projects deliver great outcomes.

  1. The Executive Sponsor needs to be at the kick-off meeting of the project to:
    1. Define a clear and simple vision for the project
    2. Ensure the real business need is addressed and the project is aligned with strategy
    3. Define what success and failure look likes for the project
  1. Set the standards for the Project with the Project Manager about interactions with the Sponsor and the role they will both play. The Sponsor and Project Manager need to work closely together from start to finish. Things to consider in the conversation are:
    1. What time commitment is needed from the sponsor?
    2. What reporting is required and frequency?
    3. How to deal with issues when they arise? And,
    4. When to escalate the issue?
  1. The Executive Sponsor needs to play a governance role and not get trapped in micro managing the Project Manager (this is a recipe for disaster). The sponsor is to authorise the project and the project manager is to execute the project.
  1. The Executive Sponsor should not take a boss like role with the Project Manager. This needs to be a collaborative approach where an environment of trust and transparency is created.
  1. Other roles the Executive Sponsor plays:
    1. Champion the project to the organisation at executive level
    2. Negotiate a common ground with stakeholders when decisions on changes to the project have to be made and communicate this effectively to the Project Manager
    3. Chairing the Steering Committee for the project

Executive teams within organisations have increasing pressure to deliver better results with less resources.

Contact PM-Partners group to get expert advice and gain further insights into Executive Project Sponsorship to ensure your projects are set up for success. 1300 70 13 14

View our infographic on the top 10 characteristics of the Sponsors’ role.

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