A01 - Appoint the sponsor
This management activity belongs to the Project Initiation group. This group of activities are run at the beginning to prepare us for the project.
The first management activity is for the organization to appoint a senior manager (preferably a board member) as the sponsor. The sponsor is the highest role in the project and the project manager reports to them.
The sponsor is
- accountable for the justification and outcome of the project,
- responsible for making high-level decisions for the project, and
- responsible for making sure the project is properly funded and resourced.
The sponsor’s role is necessary because
- project managers have to be focused on the day-to-day work and the outputs of the project, which distract them and don’t leave them enough time and mental energy to manage the high-level aspects of the project;
- project managers may not have enough organizational power to be able to get resources for the project, or to have enough strategic information to make sure that the project is aligned with other organizational endeavors.
The following should be considered when deciding about the sponsor:
- Sponsors don’t have to spend a lot of time on the project, but they still need to be involved and dedicate a small portion of their time to the project.
- Sponsors must feel they own the project and have to protect it, yet they shouldn’t hesitate to cancel the project if it loses its justification.
- When possible, you shouldn’t have a single person as the sponsor for all projects because all constants have a tendency to fade and lose their meaning.
- You shouldn’t appoint a single person as the sponsor and the project manager for the same project (unless it’s a single-person project) because they will be distracted by the concrete project management responsibilities and forget about their relatively abstract duties as a sponsor.
- Project managers and sponsors should not be micro-managers.
The following principles play a significant role in this management activity: