Sponsor Risk Assessment

Before implementing a project, it is crucial to measure the readiness for project implementation. An overall environmental assessment survey instrument (EASI) is available on the Web in the "Offerings" section of http://www.englundpmc.com. EASI relates specifically to each component of Creating an Environment for Successful Projects (Graham and Englund, 2004). The environmental assessment may point to specific areas of strengths and development opportunities.

In Exhibit 6.1, we introduce a risk assessment survey to raise the awareness of the organization's current positioning for the change caused by the project. This tool provides a high-level analysis of possible risk areas for the planned project. It thus allows you to know more about the situation and the attitudes of the people involved. Risk is assessed on the basis of eight critical factors for any change: motivation, commitment, shared vision, culture, alignment, communication, planning, and skills.

Use this tool with all project stakeholders, possibly with different layers in the organization and with various groups. In that way, you collect contrasted opinions to check the issues found. Report survey results back to all participants in a sensitive way. Figure 6.2 provides a graphical means to summarize risk assessment scores. A tight grouping around low scores indicates low maturity and high risk. Jagged scores—some high and some low—helps pinpoint areas of strengths and development needs.

Exhibit 6.1 Risk Assessment Survey


The following items reflect the key elements of risk assessment. Rate each element on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 = "disagree strongly," 2 = "disagree somewhat," 3 = "neither agree nor disagree," 4 = "agree somewhat," and

5 = "agree strongly."

1. Motivation for the Project Score

1.1 There is a convincing business need for the project. _

1.2 There are significant risks to the business if the project _

is unsuccessful.

1.3 The level of dissatisfaction with the current situation is _

mutually shared by employees and management.

1.4 There is a sense of urgency to change felt by everyone. _

1.5 The extent of the impact on those affected by the _

project (in terms of work habits, power, and security) is minimal.


2. Commitment to the Project

2.1 There is publicly committed sponsorship for the change. _

2.2 Resources, time, and money are committed to sustain the _


2.3 The sponsor is at a high enough level in the organization to _

have decision-making authority.

2.4 The parties implementing the change are considered credible _

by the parties affected by the change.

2.5 The sponsor clearly understands his or her responsibility, _

especially when conflict arises.

2.6 There is a guiding coalition (other leaders supporting the _

sponsor) to drive the project.

2.7 First-line managers actively support the change. _

Exhibit 6.1 Risk Assessment Survey, Cont'd

3. Shared Vision of the Project

3.1 There is a tight link between the vision for the project and the organization's overall vision.

3.2 People can relate the vision for the change to themselves personally in a positive way.

3.3 There is a well-articulated vision of the change that is commonly understood and shared by all stakeholders.

3.4 There is a strong leadership to sustain the vision for the change.

3.5 The vision statement is clear, convincing, and compelling.


4. Cultural Match with the Project

4.1 The project aligns with the culture of the organization.

4.2 The implementation approach is appropriate to the organizational culture.

4.3 The strength of the culture is likely to reinforce the change direction.

4.4 Previous changes have been handled well in this organization.

4.5 Decision making is timely and implemented.

4.6 There is a high degree of trust between managers and employees in the areas affected by the change.


5. Organizational Alignment

5.1 Planning cycles support project resource requirements.

5.2 Reward structures encourage adoption of the change by all affected parties.

5.3 Processes support the sustainability of the change.

5.4 Consequences are articulated and followed through on.

5.5 Management practices and behavior support the change.

5.6 There is a manageable level of stress in the organization.

Exhibit 6.1 Risk Assessment Survey, Cont'd

6. Communication

6.1 The organization uses three-way communication.

6.2 Communication generally reaches and is understood at all levels.

6.3 The communication plan is comprehensive and timely.

6.4 Multiple media are available for communicating in this organization.

6.5 The magnitude of the change is small both vertical and horizontally.


7. Transition Planning

7.1 There is a transition plan in place that allows adequate time for the change.

7.2 The transition plan is comprehensive, covering human, process, and technical dimensions.

7.3 Transition measures are incorporated into the plan.

7.4 Potential problems and risks have been identified, and plans are in place for resolving them quickly.

7.5 The implementation approach is aligned with the scope of the change (time frames, methods, degree of involvement).


8. Skills

8.1 The change agents have sound skills for implementing the change process.

8.2 Those affected by the change have the technical and job skills necessary to perform the new activities.

8.3 People understand their personal transitioning process.

8.4 There are suitable mentors available to help people through the change.

8.5 Employees have a sense of empowerment that is appropriate to the nature of the change.

8.6 Teamwork is highly developed in this organization.

Exhibit 6.1 Risk Assessment Survey, Cont'd

Scoring Instructions

1. Total the scores for each section (1 through 8).

2. Divide the section scores by the factor identified in the following table to obtain an adjusted score.




Adjusted Score





Shared vision












3. Total of adjusted scores_

4. Multiply the total adjusted score by 2.5 to obtain an overall risk assessment score_

5. Mark the range for your overall risk assessment:

High/Danger (20-40)_

Moderate/Caution (41-70)_

Low/Opportunity (71-100)_

6. Draw a spider diagram similar to the one shown in Figure 6.2 to show the main areas of risk. High scores indicate minimum risk, low scores require risk strategies.

Figure 6.2 Radar Chart for Sponsor Risk Assessment Results

Sponsor Risk Assessment Chart


Figure 6.2 Radar Chart for Sponsor Risk Assessment Results

Sponsor Risk Assessment Chart


Nonsponsors can also complete the survey and use it to give structured feedback to the sponsor. Use these surveys as a data source for accelerating dialogue around project and sponsor processes as well as for providing feedback to the sponsor (feedback will be discussed at greater length in Chapter Seven).

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