Feb 13, 2010

The disappearing project sponsor

Have any of you been in situations where you see the project team and sponsor disappear for a project which you thought you were only supporting?

Kotter's "Leading Change" talks about creating a guiding coalition as a vital part of enabling change.I also realize that assembling the right project team is essential for any improvement initiative.But increasingly I understand the need for one critical element of the project team : a clearly identified and engaged project sponsor.

In today's world ; probably due to the complexity of today's organizations; decisions to start an improvement initiative may be taken due to top down direction or bottom up (typically middle management) initiative.  Identifying a sponsor becomes vital if the initiative requires changes in many parts of the organization and also organizational resources.Having a sponsor who signs off saying that this initiative needs to be undertaken is not sufficient.

The project team needs to ensure that the identified sponsor is 'engaged' through the life cycle of the improvement project. And that is where many project teams fail. They get the decision to go ahead and then attempt to fight the internal battles on their own.In many cases they even fail to keep the sponsor informed of the progress (or the lack of it).This leads to the sponsor slowly losing interest  and moving on to what she considers to be more urgent priorities..

Here is a shortlist of actions that can help project teams keep the sponsor engaged and the project successful

  • Clearly identify the sponsor
  • Ensure that the project objectives are linked to the sponsors objectives/goals for the year etc
  • Establish governance mechanisms that ensures sufficient project sponsor time commitment and  adequate reporting of progress and issues to the sponsor
  • Ensure meetings/communications etc are undertaken to keep the sponsor informed of progress and also take feedback
  • Find opportunities to demonstrate sponsor commitment
    • Ensure that communications of project progress to larger stakeholders go from the sponsor
    • Invite the sponsor to physically present in meetings to explain project/impact etc
    • Invite the sponsor for celebrations of wins etc from the project
Are there are other good practices to engage the sponsor?

No comments:

Post a Comment