Project Sponsorship

Project-Sponsorship-West-Ch1

The hourglass project sponsor - project manager relationship

Project Sponsorship or Executive Sponsorship is the ownership of a project within the organization investing in the project. Projects are designed to change organizations so as to deliver greater value. Perhaps a new factory is to be built which will increase production at lower cost, or the stock control software is to be upgraded. The idea for a project will begin to take shape and someone, whether they realize it or not, will become the project sponsor or Senior Responsible Owner.
The sponsor will define the project and make an assessment of the business case. Will the benefits of the project outweigh the costs? If the sponsor thinks they will, then approval will be sought to develop the project and a project manager hired. The relationship between the project sponsor and the project manager is rather like an hourglass. The project sponsor and project manager stand back to back at the neck of the hourglass with the project manager organizing all the consultants and contractors delivering the project and the project sponsor facing all the stakeholders in the organization with an investment in the project and that will be affected by it.
Whilst the project manager will be fully focussed on delivering the project the sponsor must be the guardian of the organization’s investment. If the project suffers delays or increased costs then it is the sponsor who must re-assess the business case and determine whether the project should continue or not.
Almost as soon as the sponsor has handed responsibility for delivery to the project manager, the sponsor should begin planning for how the organization will realize the benefits of the project. For example, if the benefits of the project are greater efficiency and reduced manpower, then the planning for reduction in manpower must begin.
As I write this, a search on Amazon reveals 62,305 books on project management and 995 on project sponsorship. When I did a similar search as I wrote the author proposal for my book it was 35,000 to 1.

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Here are a few of the things that reviewers have said:

‘Having previously had the pleasure of working with David on some very challenging projects, I was delighted to be asked to review his book…David’s text meets a real need. Effective project sponsorship is an essential discipline for all but the simplest projects, and can be the difference between a success and a high profile and expensive disaster. Sponsors…must be both the guardians and translators of the interest of investors and funders. Through cogent analysis; reference to apposite examples; and a well structured explanation of practical techniques David has provided an excellent guide to the realities of effective project sponsorship. Reviewing this text has provided me with a valuable opportunity to reflect on best practice and how to apply it. I have no hesitation in recommending it to others.’ – Bill Reeve, Director, Rail Delivery at Transport Scotland

Project Sponsorship is one of the least well understood and enacted roles in the whole change management structures of organisations whether Public or Private sector. David’s book is well-structured and absolutely packed with detailed material on everything a Programme Manager, Project Manager or Programme Director would need to know how to do or supervise happening. If you are a first time Project Sponsor with little experience in any of the previously stated roles, then this book will fill many of the gaps in education and experience.
Chapter 5 on Corporate Strategy gives a lot of the tools that a Business Analyst, working with the Board, would use to analyse strategic intent, justification, modelling the business and identifying the drivers for change.
Chapter 6 on Business Case is probably one of the most comprehensive I have read on the subject. It gives lots of examples.
I commend all the hard work gone into developing this title; it deserves to run to a second edition. I have, despite some suggestions, no hesitation in recommending this excellent book. I believe that David should consider entering it in next year’s Practical Manager category of the Chartered Management Institute’s Management Book of the Year competition. The winner was announced last week at the British Library and – full disclosure – I was there having been one of the Judges.

Jill Dann for Arras People

  1. Thanks for the article, is there any way I can receive an email whenever you publish a new update? gegfagbkfdbe

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