According to a study by the Project Management Institute, 62% of all successful projects have an active sponsor. But what is a project sponsor? How do you know if you need one? And how can you tell if they’re any good?
Learn more about the roles of a project sponsor and how they can supercharge your next big assignment.
Introducing the role of the project sponsor
Use this overview to help define, find, and work with the best possible project sponsor for your unique team and company makeup.
What is a project sponsor?
A project sponsor is a lot like an event or sports team sponsor; they own the project and make key decisions throughout the process. The project sponsor is usually someone on the client’s team who acts as the point person. It’s their job to make sure they know what their company’s goal is and that they properly communicate it to you.
What are the benefits of having a project sponsor?
In general, you can count on project sponsors to make key decisions, offer insight into the client’s vision, and problem-solve as needed throughout the project. The other benefits of a good project sponsor include:
- Clearer communication between the client and your team.
- Saving time previously spent on sending out constant project updates and reminders to both your company and theirs.
- Having a point of contact who can sort out any confusion and act as a liaison for difficult conversations if they come up.
How do you get a project sponsor?
Every assignment has at least one sponsor, whether they know it or not. The key is to identify exactly who the sponsor is on every new project. Doing so will help define their role, streamline communication, and hold everyone accountable throughout the collaboration.
Having a single project sponsor makes it easy to consolidate information and speed up decision-making. Having more than one project sponsor, on the other hand, may cause a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario.
When you approach the project sponsor conversation with your client, be sure to have one or two of your top choices from their team in mind. Include trustworthy people on your list who you and your office already have a good rapport with. Ideally, they’d also have a clear understanding of how your team works and what projects like these usually entail.
Also, consider how their expertise for this particular assignment can benefit everyone involved. Even if your client has already picked out their sponsor, it’s good to have these details in mind before the kickoff meeting just in case. Even if they don’t go with your top choice, you now know exactly who else will be a great asset to the project as a whole.
What is a project sponsor role on the project?
A project sponsor’s role in any project is to have a clear vision and oversee the process. They will attend all relevant meetings, check-in on important updates through their project management dashboard, and approve necessary changes as they come up.
Before the project begins, a great project sponsor will double-check all relevant timeline and budget details. They’ll also make sure that the proposal aligns with their own strategy and expectations. You can even expect them to establish KPIs and other big picture concerns.
During the course of the project, a sponsor will likely keep up with daily progress, field questions, and resolve any issues that arise. They may help bring in new team members from their company or even help reconfigure the project timeline and tasks as needed. While they won’t take on any of the workload needed to actually complete the project, they will be in charge of pretty much everything else.
After the project is over, it’s up to the project sponsor to affirm whether or not the goals were achieved. They’ll also help with any post-project evaluations and sign off on the finished product.
Project sponsor vs. project manager: What's the difference?
Project sponsors and project managers seem interchangeable at first glance. After all, they both work to establish and execute the master plan of any project. However, there are some key differences worth noting if you want to take full advantage of both these team members.
The biggest project sponsor responsibilities include working on behalf of the client while project managers lead the team hired to execute the project. Also, managers will often make the plan so sponsors can tweak and approve each phase. And, even though sponsors will be involved with the day-to-day, it’s completely up to the project manager to make sure all tasks are being carried out and that every responsible party is on schedule.
Get your project sponsors and project managers on the same page
Now that you know why the roles of a project sponsor are so important, it’s time to get the tools you need to help everyone succeed. Wrike’s project management software offers everything you need to help your project sponsor perform at a high level. From centralized communication and document storage to real-time project and timeline updates, Wrike is a must-have tool for any project sponsor. But don’t just take our word for it — explore Wrike’s many helpful features through our free trial.