A ‘Chocolate Chisel’ or ‘the Rock at the heart of your success’?
Have you ever been involved in a project where the project sponsor was disengaged, unrealistic or overly demanding? Have you experienced a sponsor who limits their involvement to managing upwards with little or no facts, hindering project delivery or causing it to fail altogether?
The recently published second edition of the APM guide Sponsoring Change highlights the essential role that sponsors must play in delivering successful change:
‘Programme or project sponsors are accountable for the realisation of desired outcomes and benefits from any investment. They provide the governance link between the organisation’s senior executives (the board) and the management of each project’
Project sponsors are crucial to any project – being proactive, engaged, visible and committed to supporting project teams in their pursuit of successful delivery. Failure to secure a sponsor who both understands and successfully delivers on their accountabilities, is a common risk missed by many organisations embarking on major change. Consciously addressing this risk at the outset of the project lifecycle – through robust sponsor selection, education and ongoing support – will make a huge difference between success and failure.
There are several key attributes that make up a great project sponsor:
Understanding: the sponsor must clearly understand the problem being solved by the project, be able to coherently articulate this, and must ensure that the proposed solution truly addresses the root cause.
Competence: the sponsor must have the knowledge, and skills to fulfil the role. This includes acting as the conscience of the business, ensuring that the project team doesn’t waste valuable resources through over-engineering the solution.
Leadership: the project sponsor is a crucial member of the project team – coaching, supporting, encouraging and clearing the way for the project team. The sponsor has accountability for building the right team with the right skills to deliver the solution. Visible leadership is essential, including regular meetings with the team and other stakeholders to review project status.
Commitment: the sponsor can’t fulfil their duties on the corner of a desk! They must be able to give the role the personal time and priority necessary to fulfil the duties and responsibilities.
Engagement: the sponsor must be willing to take personal ownership of the project, ensure that effective communications are in place, and have the personal gravitas be able to influence stakeholders at all levels towards a successful outcome.
Courage: the sponsor must be able to make difficult, and sometimes politically unpopular decisions, that are right for the organisation. This is not just about keeping things moving on the project, but also putting the company first by being prepared to ‘pull the plug’ when a project no longer meets its stated purpose.
To find out more about getting the right sponsors in place, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.devereauxkellyassociates.com for further details.