Beginners Guide: Project Sponsor Definition

Project Sponsor Definition

The project sponsor is the owner of the project and they can make or break a project. So it is important that as project managers you know how work with a project sponsor. In this article I will help you understand more about the project sponsor. The first thing we will cover is who the project sponsor is and understand what they do. Then we will move on to cover what they worry about the most. We will finish the article on how they can make a difference to the success of a project.

Who is the Project Sponsor?

The project sponsor is the owner of the project. They are the person that the project manager answers to with the delivery of the project. The project sponsor does not get involved in the day to day running of a project. They do hold a lot of influence over the project. The project sposonsor approves all requests for more money or resources. Also the project exists to deliver the sponsor’s vision. As the owner of the project it is what they want that is being developed. Understanding what a project sponsor wants is critical to the success of the project.

A good way to understand what a project sponsor does is to compare it to the owner of a sports team. In sports, owners don’t impact the game during a match. That is, they don’t suit up and get on the field with the other players. Yet, they still make huge decisions that have a major impact on their team. This is the same with project owners. They make the huge decisions but day to day running of the project they leave to the project manager.

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3 Things Project Sponsors Worry About

There are three things that project sponsors worry about. These are what keep them awake at night and fill their email inbox by day.

Money

The project sponsor holds the purse strings for the project. Chances are there is never enough money to go around so they have to be careful. Spending more money on one project will often lead to less money to spend on other projects. The sponsor has to balance the demands for more money to make sure there is value for money on all projects. Sometimes a sponsor has to decide if enough is good enough. If so then they only give the project a little bit of extra funds if it means they can still get most of their vision.

Resources

Like money, there is also never enough people to go around. Due to efficiency and change companies often have the least amount of staff possible. The staff are often busy rather than sat around doing nothing as this would offer very poor value for money. In a similar way sponsors must balance the books. They must try and share out the resources between projects to deliver as much of the vision as possible.

Vision

This is the reason why the project exists. The project sponsor has a need for something and the project exists to deliver that need. It might be to fix something. Or so the organisation can take an advantage of something they could not do before. Whatever the reason the sponsor needs to sure that the project will deliver their vision. They are not involved in the day to day running of the project. So it can be difficult for the sponsor to make sure the project meets their vision.

How a Project Sponsor Can Make a Difference

There are two things a project sponsor can do to make a real difference to their project. By doing this should reduce the amount of time they spend worrying about it.

The first thing a project sponsor should do is appoint a champion. This person should understand the project sponsor vision. They should have a vested interest in the project being a success. This is often done by the champion having their day job affected by the project. This is either the problem that the project is trying to fix or by what the project will deliver. The champion should work on a day to day basis with the project manager and the project team. They answer questions and make sure that was is developed is what the sponsor wants.

The second thing that the Sponsor should do is champion the project. They need to fight for the project with other executive managers. When there is a round of budget cuts they need to be able to stand up for their project. If their project needs more funding or resources it is up them to get it. An enthusiastic sponsor is far more likely to have a successful project.

Summary

In summary, the project sponsor is the owner of the project. The project exists to deliver the sponsor’s vision. They make the huge decisions but day to day running of the project they leave to the project manager.

There are three things that project sponsors worry about. These are what keep them awake at night and fill their email inbox by day.

Money – The project sponsor holds the purse strings for the project. Chances are there is never enough money to go around so they have to be careful.

Resources – Like money, there is also never enough people to go around.

Vision – They are not involved in the day to day running of the project. So it can be difficult for the sponsor to make sure the project meets their vision.

This is a basic summary of what a project sponsor does. I hope you have found this helpful.

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