Choose the Right Project Sponsor

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How many times have you had all the right ingredients -- a great project team, all the right skill sets, a scoped business problem to solve -- and yet project success was still elusive? Ask we have the right executive sponsor for our project?

Choosing the right executive sponsor for your project is a critical, and often overlooked, factor in project success. The role of the executive sponsor in a project is to socialize the project charter and benefits with his/her executive staff peers, ensure proper funding is obtained/maintained, and, most importantly, knock down obstacles when they are encountered.

Symptoms of a project that is missing the proper executive sponsorship are:

  • Other organizations, whose participation is critical to the project, are not made to uphold their project commitments.
  • Original funding commitments are reduced or not honored at all.
  • Although the project is solving key business issues and contributing to the bottom line, this is not recognized beyond the bounds of the project team's organization.
  • As a result of the previous bullet, new projects which solve the same business problems begin to pop up inside and outside of the project team's organization.

Consider the following when choosing a project sponsor:

  • Does this person have control or at least significant influence in the areas of the business the project aims to improve?
  • Does this person have the necessary relationships to create strong partnerships with key organizations and hold them to their project commitments if needed?
  • Is this person someone who will evangelize the project and build awareness of the business problems the project team is solving to help ensure funding and to eliminate project duplication?

Obtaining commitment from an executive-level project sponsor is one of the first steps to take when considering the launch of any new project. Without this backing, especially in a large organization, there is great risk of executing on the best project plan with the best team at your side and still not achieving your project goals.

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