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Project Sponsor – The Role and Responsibilities

Eric McConnell
April 26, 2010

What duties and responsibilities an project investor carries out

project sponsorSuccessful initiation of a new project is always based upon project sponsorship. If the project is well funded by the project sponsor (investor), it has the required financial foundation to carry out works, achieve objectives and produce deliverables. The sponsor authorizes the necessary resources and makes decisions related to finances and cash flows of the project. Let’s briefly talk about the role and responsibilities of project sponsor.

Who is Project Sponsor?

Project sponsor is a person(s) or an organization(s) that is in charge of driving the project towards directions that will bring the project to successful realization of expected benefits. Project sponsor finances project initiatives and approved ideas, takes care of engagement processes, facilitates the development of initial scope and the project charter, and participates in processes of communications management.

The Role

Project sponsor is critical to strategic planning, high project sustainability, and successful implementation of project objectives. The role of project sponsor covers the financial and organizational responsibilities and activities that are directed to quick and decisive governance of the project.

The major responsibilities and activities of project sponsor include:

  • Negotiate funding for the project and be a spokesperson to the senior management
  • Provide direction and guidance for project empowerment, key business strategies and project initiatives
  • Identify and qualify project benefits and manage project benefits realization
  • Participate in initial project planning, including developing the project chart and the project scope
  • Identify members of Steering Committee and facilitate the work of project management office (optionally)
  • Review changes to the project environment, including schedules, priorities, tasks, etc.
  • Identify project critical success factors and approve deliverables
  • Negotiate with stakeholders to gain consensus when differences of opinion take place
  • Involve stakeholders in the project and maintain their ongoing commitment to the project through using communication strategies and project management planning methods
  • Evaluate the project’s success on completion

The role of project sponsor is critical to ensuring the success of projects, especially IT projects. If an inappropriate IT project sponsor has been chosen, then effectiveness of the role is reduced, the project is not funded sufficiently, and the overall success of the project is likely to turn into failure. In fact, any project which is initiated without an appropriate degree of executive sponsorship (executive sponsor) will fail. Therefore, when initiating a new project, you need to define project sponsor taking into account the importance of project sponsorship.

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