The success of any project is directly related to the effectiveness of the project team. Key roles on the project team go beyond that of Project Manager and direct team members. One of the most critical roles is that of Project Sponsor. Establishing who the Sponsor is and defining their roles and responsibilities is an integral task during the incubation stage of the project itself.
Critical Attributes of a Project Sponsor
The Sponsor will set the tone for how the project is perceived within the organization and by the project team itself. To drive a successful project, the Sponsor should have the following attributes:
The Sponsor needs to be the voice of the Project with his peers and those to whom he reports. He will need to leverage his influence to mitigate any internal politics while educating those around him of the benefits of the project.
Every successful project aligns with the big-picture and the strategy for the organization. The Sponsor will provide the project with these insights and provide feedback as to alignment with the organizational strategy.
The Sponsor needs to ultimately lead the project through accountability for the ultimate deliverables. His leadership should reinforce the appropriate level of urgency for the project both from a project and an organizational perspective.
4. Change Agent
If the project deliverables are not adopted by the organization, a project can not be deemed to be a success. The Sponsor has to take accountability over the adoption of the project to ensure the realization of the benefits therefrom.
As the ultimate leader, the Sponsor needs to act as a coach and mentor to the team. Celebrate successes and support the learning from mistakes. He will need to work with the Project Manager and the team to manage the peaks and valleys found in every project.
Ultimately, you have to balance the role of the person and the characteristics person themselves when formalizing the Project Sponsor role. Determination of this balance is a critical step forward in the delivery of a successful project.