Handling Disagreements With The Sponsor

For years, we believed that the project sponsor had the final say on all decisions affecting the project. The sponsor usually had a vested interest in the project and was responsible for obtaining funding for the project. But what if the project manager believes that the sponsor has made the wrong decision? Should the project manager have a path for recourse action in such a situation?

There are several reasons why disagreements between the project manager and project sponsor will occur. First, the project sponsors may not have sufficient technical knowledge or information to evaluate the risks of any potential decision. Second, sponsors may be heavily burdened with other activities and unable to devote sufficient time to sponsorship. Third, some companies prefer to assign sponsors who have no vested interest in the project in hopes of getting impartial decision-making. Finally, sponsorship may be pushed down to a middle-management level where the assigned sponsor may not have all of the business knowledge necessary to make the best decisions.

Recognizing that these conflicts can exist, companies are instituting executive steering committees or executive policy board committees to quickly resolve these disputes. Few conflicts ever make it to the executive steering committee, but those that do are usually severe and may expose the company to unwanted risks.

A common conflict that may end up at the executive steering committee level is when one party wants to cancel the project and the second party wants to continue. This situation occurred at a telecommunications company where the project manager felt that the project should be canceled but the sponsor wanted the project to continue because its termination would reflect poorly upon him. Unfortunately, the steering committee sided with the sponsor and let the project continue. The company squandered precious resources for several more months before finally terminating the project.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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