Project Sponsor Responsibilities

The project sponsor, in taking on the role, accepts overall accountability to the organization for achieving the project goals. The project sponsor is, in reality, the boss. The sponsor is typically a senior person within the organization who has a high impact on the business, has the necessary experience relating to the project being undertaken, or has the organizational ability to make things happen. The sponsor could also hold the title of senior manager, director, CEO, or CIO. The sponsor sees that things get done in ways that would normally take the project manager forever and a day to complete. The sponsor also reviews the overall progress of the project and serves as the source of support if there are conflicts. The individual who assumes the role of project sponsor would be responsible for

Selecting the project manager

Establishing the project goals

Providing leadership for the overall team

Selling the project to stakeholders

Resolving crucial risks and issues, if the project manager cannot resolve them

Ensuring that the project manager is communicating progress and following the best approach

Ensuring that approval is provided to proceed to the next project phase

■ Approving major project changes (together with the Change Control Board (CCB))

■ Providing overall direction for the project

■ Potentially assisting in obtaining valuable resources when the project demands it

■ Assisting the project manager with appraisal and performance reporting

Before taking on the role of project sponsor, there are some key questions that the identified individual needs to ask him - or herself and others, as an assessment and personal commitment will be necessary. Table 2.1 identifies a brief "acceptance checklist" used on an IT project.

Table 2.1: Typical project sponsor acceptance checklist

Acceptance List for Project Sponsor

Yes

No

Unsure

The project is already underway and is in bad shape.

>

I have the available time to dedicate myself to being a project sponsor.

>

I will enforce unfavorable decisions where needed to guide the project forward.

>

I will place the project on hold or cancel the project if appropriate.

Success is possible by interfacing with the project manager/team.

>

I will be able to sell the project to stakeholders where required.

>

Table 2.1: Typical project sponsor acceptance checklist

Acceptance List for Project Sponsor

Yes

No

Unsure

I am able to motivate and pursue the necessary resources for the project.

ACCEPTANCE SCORE

5

1

1

Based on the acceptance score of 5 in Table 2.1, the project sponsor is able to see that the majority of issues can, in fact, be agreed upon, and that the role of project sponsor is acceptable. For the two items that remain unresolved, the project sponsor must ensure that a mechanism be established that will allow these items to be performed by the sponsor or delegated representative.

IDENTIFYING THE PROJECT MANAGER

During the past few years I have often encountered project managers that are well qualified but lack the necessary skills for leading a project. Project managers have to be more than just qualified and appointed to the position of project manager. The profession not only entails familiarizing oneself with key knowledge areas and being certified, but also having the practical ability to get by on the job. Today, the art of project management covers so many fields that the project manager starts wearing many hats in a variety of disciplines: Project managers are unique and multiskilled, in that they are able to function in almost any environment. The first prerequisite is to have a solid understanding of project management. What makes a good project manager? In my personal experiences I have found that project managers with the good leadership skills who work well with people contribute hugely to a project's overall success.

I am always so fascinated when I see how other people would do under similar circumstances. During the writing of this book, I observed a colleague of mine who manages about $15 million a year in IT projects and manages up to fifty IT staff. He gained success largely due to his ability to build strong relationships with all his clients and project teams. The clients absolutely enjoyed having him around. He commanded a loyal network of repeat clients and successful projects. I estimate that out of all his projects, sixty percent came from repeat business and leads and forty percent were from loyal referrals. I was intrigued to find out what his secret was, so I redoubled my efforts on assessing the things that he did well. They include the following traits:

• He was enthusiastic and optimistic about all his projects.

• He had excellent relationships with all his client and project staff.

• He knew how to work with people and showed his appreciation for good work on his project.

• He knew what was expected from him and was dynamic in moving forward with the next series of tasks.

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