Project Sponsor Role
The role of a the Project Sponsor, or Project Executive, is to act as guardian of the project business case, and ensure that the project is able to deliver the benefits predicted, outweighing the costs. The Project Sponsor should appoint the Project Manager, and thereafter the Project Sponsor and Project Manager must work very closely together. I liken the project structure to an hourglass in which the Project Sponsor and Project Manager sit at the neck of the hourglass. The Project Manager directs the bottom half i.e. all the consultants and contractors delivering the project, whilst the Project Sponsor coordinates the top half, all the departments of the investing organization such as operations, marketing, finance, HR etc.
The key project sponsor’s responsibility is for the business case. Projects are conceived to add value to the investing organization. If the project becomes delayed or is heading over budget the Project Sponsor must re-asses the business case and decide whether it should continue or not.
The Project Sponsor should be someone who understands the business of the investing organization very well. He or she should command the attention and respect of the board and have direct access to all of the departments mentioned above. Ideally the Project Sponsor will have a good understanding of corporate strategy and project appraisal techniques. Once the Project Manager is appointed and fully briefed the Project Sponsor should start to plan for the day when the project is handed back. That is the way to ensure that the benefits are fully realized.
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