How to get the most from your sponsor

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Vicki James, coauthor of Strategies for Project Sponsorship. Peter Taylor, Ron Rosenhead, and Vicki James just published a book called Strategies for Project Sponsorship about (surprise surprise, surprise) project sponsoring. Peter was last time interviewed about managing when your sponsor is a jerk. Today, Vicki and I will be sharing our conversation. We talked about how to get the most out of your sponsor and tips for first-time supporters. Here’s what she had a to say.
Vicki, to get the best out of your sponsor, you must have one! Many projects don’t have sponsors or clear sponsorship. What do you think the reason is?
The current challenges are exacerbated by the uncertainty and ignorance surrounding the role of project sponsors. Unfortunately, project sponsors don’t have the education and training necessary to be successful in their careers.
To get the support needed for the project, project managers must play an active role in informing and motivating project sponsors. This is a difficult task for many project managers, as their sponsors are likely to be higher up in their chain of command.
This book will help to reduce these factors by providing best practices for sponsors and arming project managers with strategies to influence.
It is full of great advice for sponsors and project managers. If you could pick one thing to help your sponsor get the most out of their sponsorship, what would it be?
Here are three tips.
Focus all conversations and requests on the common goal of a successful project.
To maximize project success, frame the needs of the project and team.
To have a greater impact on the project sponsors and their support, remove personality from the conversation.
Thanks! How would you advise first-time project sponsors?
Keep in mind these words from Theodore Roosevelt. “The best executive is one who has enough sense to choose good men to do what they want to do, and self-control enough to not interfere with them while they do it.” You can trust the expertise of your project manager as well as other key players.
Serving as a project sponsor is the best way to serve your clients. Remember that you are there to provide tactical interference and strategic leadership to project barriers.
You will be the greatest contributor to the project’s success if you end each communication with “What can you do for me (the project)?”
Vicki, great advice!
Next time, I’ll be speaking with Ron Rosenhead, my final co-author. He shares his thoughts on the top challenges facing sponsors and tells me a story about sponsorship gone sour.
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Vicki is passionate about sharing and learning best practices in project management. She is certified in both project management as well as business analysis and can provide a broad perspective to help projectgovernance. Vicki worked 11 years in government, delivering projects that supported government operations. She is now a private consultant to government and private sector clients, and she also writes and presents on all things project. Vicki is a contributor for The Complete Project Manager (2012) by Randall Englund, Alfonso Bucero, and a popular blogger.