Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Importance of Project Sponsors

I was talking to a friend of mine about what hurts projects, and he reminded me of how important project sponsors are. Ideally, the sponsor has a stake, is invested in making the project succeed and has the time to dedicate to the project that they can at least understand intuitively what is happening and represent it to the rest of the company.

Ideal Sponsor
Understands the business purpose, knows the main business people necessary to make the project succeed, dedicates the time to understand intuitively what is happening on the project and has a personal stake in making the project succeed.

Showcase Sponsor
This is a sponsor who is very highly ranked in the company, maybe the CIO or even CEO. Be careful of these types of sponsors. It's gratifying to be working with people at the top of the house, but in all likelihood, they don't have much time to dedicate to the project. Be very careful if you can't secure time every week with your sponsor.

"I want to be more important" Sponsor
A sponsor needs to have enough clout in the company that they can break down walls and solve problems. It doesn't help if they have to go to their boss to solve the problem, they need to solve it themselves. If the company has a steering committee, they need to sit on the steering committee. Be careful if your sponsor has bitten off more than they can chew.

The "always on a plane" sponsor
There are some sponsors who really do want to help, but somehow they are never around. Phone calls, IM's, skype and all the rest are nice, but it's even better if you can talk to your sponsor face to face. They are your partner making the project work.

The Lone Wolf
Be very careful if you are working for someone who tries to limit your access to the rest of the organization or who wants to develop the project in secret. In some cases this is necessary and beneficial, but in other cases, the person can be going off on their own little adventure and if they lose the support of the organization, it can all come tumbling down fast!

Are there other types of sponsors you've worked with?

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