5.7. Identifying the Project Sponsor
Throughout this chapter, we've mentioned the project sponsor. At the outset of the chapter, we defined the project sponsor as the person to whom you must go to get formal and informal approval for project parameters such as the project proposal, the cost, time, and other details of the project. Sometimes the project sponsor is your manager, sometimes the project sponsor it an executive higher up in the company. Sometimes, though less often, you are both the project sponsor and the project manager. However, for the purposes of our discussion, we're assuming there is another person to whom you must go to get approval for various elements of the project.
The project sponsor is also the person who will defend the project if it gets into political, financial, or other trouble; he or she is the person who (ideally) can rally corporate resources for your project. The project sponsor is typically the person to whom you must go for budget and schedule approval and to sign for or approve "big ticket" items. Finally, the project sponsor can act as your ally to help you keep the project on course and on time. While the project sponsor may or may not be in constant communication with you about the project, there should be a clear line of communication between you and the project sponsor. We'll discuss how to set up some of the communication protocols and procedures in the next chapter.
Why are we discussing this? Because sometimes it's not clear who the project sponsor is and this creates a problem both near and long-term. To whom do you go for clarification? To whom do you go to get approval to spend $10,000 on new equipment required for the project? Typically a project manager will have the authority to spend money or assign resources within certain limits, but the project sponsor is usually the person that approves the overall project proposal, scope, budget, and schedule. It's also important to identify your project sponsor not just because he or she will be signing various requests for resources, but because if the project runs into trouble, you need someone with the authority to back you up. Ensuring you know who your project sponsor is (and that your project sponsor knows he or she is the project sponsor) is critical, so this is as good a time as any to get that squared away.