When trying to figure out the various roles that people are playing in your project, who is connected to it and what their responsibilities are, the question can often arise about exactly who is the sponsor of a project?
They are usually a manager or executive within the same organization but if you’re wondering what exactly to look out for, the roles that you can use to define who is the sponsor of a project are the following:
- An extra avenue of communication between the team and other stakeholders
- Promoter of the project, ensuring its value is known and that it has the resources for success
- Helps the project manager with business expertise and guidance
- Provides a focus for escalation of issues
- Is a connection between the project and the broader community
While the project sponsor is generally external to the day-to-day running of a project, they can be an excellent resource for a project manager and make a big difference in determining whether the project is a success or not. When engaging with your project’s sponsor, it is therefore important to know what exactly their responsibilities are, so that you can both get the most out of the relationship.
The benefits delivered by a project sponsor
One of the major advantages of having a project sponsor and having a strong relationship with them is the experienced “second set of eyes” they give you. The worth of experience to your project cannot be overestimated and, while not a reason to pass the buck, having someone who’s keeping at least a casual eye on how your project is going can be a huge help.
- Risk Assessment
Knowing the ins and outs of a certain industry, your project sponsor will help you in identifying and planning for risks. Some elements of risk can only be learned about the hard way, through experience, so make sure to tap into all the knowledge a project sponsor can offer.
- Structure Alignment
In the corporate world a project is often only as good as the structures which are supporting it. Especially for inexperienced project managers, or those taking on a role in a relatively new field, the structural understanding of the project sponsor can be invaluable. By being able to look over your team and regulatory structures, they will be able to spot gaps or potential risks which you mightn’t have noticed.
- Sounding Board
There comes a time in every project when you could do with a second opinion. Whether it’s a problem with the team or a worry about deadlines being missed, a project sponsor is a sympathetic and objective person you can share ideas with and ask the opinion of.
It’s not always easy to know if your project is going well or not. Milestones may have been reached but you might still have a sneaking feeling that not everything is as it should be or, conversely, important way-points might have been missed but you are feeling quite confident it’s all still on track. Your project sponsor should be able to give you a to-the-point evaluation of how they see the project and whether it’s actually on the path to success or not.
Overall, knowing who is the sponsor of a project and what you can expect from them can be very beneficial for any PM. The experience, objectivity and interest in seeing you succeed is a valuable asset, so know what to expect and work to create a relationship with them that works well for both of you. Once you identify the project sponsor, the next step is to ensure they are in the loop and has full visibility into the project(s) that they are sponsoring. With this in place, the sponsor is empowered to provide the assistance, air cover and oversight your project needs.