Introduction to Project Sponsorship - What are the Duties of a Project Sponsor?

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The successful implementation of a project is critically dependent on the enthusiasm and effectiveness of the sponsor. There are many instances of well-conceived projects becoming less successful because of the apathy and inefficiency of the sponsors. Project Sponsorship is a critical aspect of a project management system which can be achieved through effective collaboration and active participation of the Project Managers, the Project Sponsors and the Project team.

Importance of Project Sponsor

There is no denying that the Project Sponsor is the key person who can lend meaningful direction and support to a project and steer it’s course to fulfillment during the entire project life cycle. This is a responsibility that can not be delegated to anyone else as the sponsor is the one who has the necessary zeal and vision and is fully conscious of the project outcome. It may not be wrong to state that the Project Sponsor is the prime architect of the project and acts as the brain behind the successful implementation of the project.

It is the responsibility of the Project Sponsor to conceive the project in its entirety, set the project objectives, assess, monitor and review the project on a continuing basis till completion. The Project Sponsor will have to work in close coordination with the members of the Project Steering Committee and other key stakeholders. With the Project Sponsor rests the authority to change the course of the project or to reorient the project to achieve the pre-set goals or even abandon the project midway should circumstances so warrant.

Profile of a Project Sponsor

A successful Project Sponsor should be able to lead, organize, motivate and coordinate all the activities of the team members**.** They must be a good communicator and possess a variety of skills including the ability to elicit information, verify unstated assumptions, and resolve interpersonal differences as well as possess overall management skills.

Effective project management also consists of applying budgetary constraints and running the projects as per time schedules. The Project Sponsor should be a senior manager with the right qualifications and background to act quickly and decisively in the overall governance of the project.

Activities of the Project Sponsor

The activities of the Project Sponsor can be broadly summarized as providing the right direction to the project team and define the key business strategies and other initiatives. It is the responsibility of the Project Sponsor to mastermind the initial project planning and to kick-start the project. The Project Sponsor has to meticulously pick the project team members based on their skills and prior experience.

One of the key responsibilities of the Project Sponsor is to arrange funding of the project and to monitor spending. The Project Sponsor has to preside over all review meetings to measure the progress achieved, receive feedback information and seek explanation for lapses, reevaluate the operational strategies, keep the team members focused on the project objectives and to apply necessary correctives in areas that are lagging behind.

For large-sized projects it will be difficult for the Project Sponsor to single-handedly manage the multifarious tasks of the project and the appointment of a full-time Executive Sponsor may become necessary. In this case, the Executive Sponsor would share a considerable part of the responsibilities of the Project Sponsor. The Executive Sponsor might as well be a senior official of the University or the academic body that is entrusted with the project.

The Executive Sponsor will be required to oversee the finances of the project and also render advice to the Project Sponsor on all extraneous issues that may have relevance to the project. The Executive Sponsor may also be entrusted with the work of reviewing the project progress and communicating project status to various outside agencies.