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What Does it Mean to be a Project Sponsor?

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
What Does It Mean To Be A Project Sponsor?

A Manager is often called upon to fulfil a variety of roles, above and beyond his or her standard management duties. One such role is that of the Project Sponsor.

What does it mean to be a Project Sponsor? And what are you expected to provide in this role?

What is a Project Sponsor?

The Project Sponsor is the person with ultimate accountability for a Project. This means that if the Project goes well, this is the person that will be praised for its great achievement, and equally, if all goes wrong, this will be the person who’s head is on the block!

Perhaps a little extreme however I've exaggerated to highlight the Sponsors importance. Someone needs to take ultimate accountability; particularly where decisions need to be made, and the Project Sponsor is that person.

The Project Sponsor is not necessary responsible for completing the work. Typically they delegate this to the Project Manager, who has the responsibility for delivering the Project.

Driver Behind the Project

The Project Sponsor is the driver behind the Project. They are the person who will make this Project happen; if they are not driven for this Project to proceed, then it will struggle. Without a Project Sponsor pushing behind the Project, it will not have the necessary importance to survive against other, more important Projects. Resources are limited: money, people and time. Therefore only the most important projects will survive. And the most important projects are those that have a Project Sponsor prepared to fight for its survival.

The Project Sponsor's Role

  • Approve the Business Case:
  • Is there sound business justification to proceed with this Project, given the proposed benefits and expected costs?

  • Approve any changes outside of approved Boundaries
  • The business world is changing and projects need to be adaptable. Projects would run smoothly if only there weren’t changes! A Project Sponsor must approve any changes to the original plan.

  • Make Key Project Decisions
  • The Project Sponsor is the ultimate decision maker on the Project. A Project Board may support him or her, but where there is conflict of decisions, it is the Project Sponsor who makes the final call.

  • Supports the Project Manager
  • The Project Manager does not necessarily have the influence with the organisation to make things happen. This is where the Project Sponsor can help.

    The Project Sponsor Plays an Active Role

    The Project Sponsor is NOT a figurehead. They need to play an active role, and while they may not be actually delivering the work, they need to provide other vital services to the Project.

    These Include:

  • ensure the project has solid Business justification to proceed
  • ensure the project remains focused on delivering Business Benefit
  • promoting the Project at senior level
  • strong advocate for the Project across the Business
  • communicate the need for the Project
  • work with the Project Manager to ensure the Project remains on track
  • remain aware of key Risks and Issues, only becoming involved in the resolution where the Project Manager is unable to successful address the problem
  • ensure the Project has appropriate support at senior management level
  • provides support to Business Managers who may be impacted by the Project

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Very Helpful , in simple language.. Thanks
Cheko - 17-Apr-12 @ 9:08 AM
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