Is Effective Sponsorship the Real Game-Changer for Project Delivery

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In a lot of conversations, we are now discussing the method of delivery, should we be agile, should we be plan-driven, how to organise the team and how to be lean through the delivery organisation. This is all good, but doesn’t the art of effective delivery come back to effective sponsorship? I have sat in boardrooms where delivery based discussion are rife with the words structure, organisation, planning, commissioning / testing and ultimately customer focus. This is all truly fine, but shouldn’t the discussion be focused on culture of delivery, sponsorship of delivery and ultimately the willingness to deliver. The need for effective sponsorship can and should be the crux of these conversation is the real game-change when it comes to project delivery. So forget the words, agile, agility, planning and analysis and talk instead of culture, sponsorship and willingness.

Here some of our tips on effective sponsorship for the delivery professionals / organisations out there. At this point, I should be clear on what I mean by delivery … a project delivery  is a system used by an project or organisation for the design, planning, construction, operations, and maintenance services for a project that is required (or contractually committed to) by one or more entities or parties. Here are some tips for planners on how to secure sponsorship for project delivery: – .

  1. One size does not fit all: – We can never repeat based on what we have seen in the past. You should always be open to customisation and work with your sponsors to create the best experience possible for them. Work with them (where they are open to or it not) to get their views on what fits best and ensure they are involved in understanding the delivery methods.
  2. Stay on top of business developments affecting potential sponsors: – This will help identify signs for the best time to approach them. Nobody likes to hear about information second hand and keep them up to date not with internal stuff but the external stuff. Why things are happening, what the consequence is and what they can do to help the project delivery in these situations.
  3. Clearly communicate who is part of the project: – Give a clear picture of the landscape of who is involved and not involved. Be open and upfront to ensure personality conflicts are understood at the earliest time. The worst things is for sponsors to have to deal / interact with those that they have no knowledge of, or in some cases may not want to be involved with.
  4. Sponsorship strategy is no longer just a project function: – It is important for people that are looking to get sponsors to understand to project delivery, that the sponsor should understand other organisational forces / directions. It is not just the project, it can be sales, marketing, public relations, human relations and so on. And it’s a part of a project delivery’s overall responsibility that sponsors are aware of various influences on successful delivery.
  5. Numbers are critical: – Not just random numbers but numbers that can tell a story and allow the sponsor to understand gaps and responses. This is a key, tangible way that sponsors will analyse what is going on. The less identifiable / confusing that the numbers are, the less traction that will be received from the sponsor … what is the expression; keep it simple stupid.

Clarify the sponsorship effort early and often. From a project delivery view, it is critical to identify what is to be accomplished and the tangible deliverables, timing expectations, budget restrictions, roles and responsibilities, known risks, and key stakeholders. But this is the easy stuff and this would be expected from any project manager but by clear on the WIIFT (What’s in it for them). If a sponsor does not understand exactly what they want, ask them to explain their motivation or driving force, then oftentimes there will be two different paths travelled as projects are been delivered.

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