Section 5.7. Identifying the Project Sponsor

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.

The IT Factor…
Approaching the Assigned Project's Sponsor

As you know from your experience and from reading the opening pages of this chapter, some projects are assigned from higher up in the organization. Typically, the person that assigns it to you is the project sponsor. You might at first glance think that you should simply take the project and run with it, since it was assigned. However, in the ideal world of project management, you would step back and go through the exact same steps you would as if you were working on a needs-driven project. While you must be aware of corporate politics and accepted work methods, you should still go through each project step. Here's why. Executives in companies often rely upon the project manager to come back and validate the project and/or its parameters. They may rely upon the knowledge, expertise, and skills of the project manager in planning the project (even if they don't specifically say so). If you and the project team go through the project definition stages and determine this is the wrong project, the wrong time, or it's solving the wrong problem, it's your job to say so. The project sponsor may still want you to move forward, but if there is a problem with the project the sponsor is not aware of, it's certainly better to find out now rather than later after hundreds (or thousands) of hours and dollars are spent pursuing a flawed project plan.

How to Cheat at IT Project Management
How to Cheat at IT Project Management
ISBN: 1597490377
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 166

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