Working With Project Sponsors

A project's sponsor is the 'client' who wants it delivered.

© iStockphoto/melhi

No project will ever get off the ground without a sponsor. He or she is the person who has identified the need for change in an area of the business, and is committed to making that change happen. The project sponsor is the person who proposes the project, and who procures the resources – the people, the money, and the time.  

The sponsor has the authority and influence within the organization to champion the project, and ensure it has all the support it needs to succeed. In other words, the project sponsor is the internal 'client' to whom the project manager has to deliver the project on spec, on budget, and on time.

The project manager/project sponsor relationship is, therefore, extremely important to a project's success. If you're a project manager, then understanding exactly what a project sponsor does is critical to managing this relationship effectively and proactively. 

The Role of a Project Sponsor

First and foremost, a sponsor must have the authority and commitment to ensure a project's success. While a project manager's influence is often limited to the project team, the sponsor is the one who leads and directs the overall business environment related to the project. Therefore, the sponsor is responsible for making sure the organization understands the value of the project, and is ready to receive and implement the project's deliverables,

The project sponsor usually holds a senior position within the business function that will ultimately support the project. This way, the sponsor has significant input into the project, and is highly committed to the results.

Some of the key project sponsor responsibilities are as follows:

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