4The Critical Project Sponsor Role

Finding the project sponsor can sometimes be like that game Where's Waldo? Instead of trying to find Waldo, though, you are trying to find the one person who is accountable for the value delivered by a project. At some companies, Waldo is not even in the picture because the project sponsor role does not exist. At other companies, Waldo may appear blurry and out of focus because the role is not well defined or there is no accountability for the performance of the role. Weak project sponsorship leads to projects that do not produce as much value as they could have and projects that regularly fall short of delivering the value promised at authorization.

To understand the project sponsor role, I first need to explain what being accountable for the value delivered by a project actually means. I also want to emphasize that the role I am going to describe is a leadership role. Much of the project sponsorship work I describe is done by others. The project sponsor leads by guiding the work and overseeing decision making.

The accountability for delivering value breaks down into three areas (see Figure 4.1). The project sponsor is the one person who is accountable for all three areas. Having this single point of accountability is necessary to eliminate any ambiguity about who is responsible for making each happen.

Figure illustrating project sponsor accountability represented by three circles placed horizontally in series connected by rightward arrowheads. From left to right the circles denote “the value is there to begin with,” “the most value is extracted,” and “the value is not lost.”

Figure 4.1 Project Sponsor Accountability ...

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