The need of support from the project executives: the project sponsorship
Many organizations do not spend time on training managers who act as sponsors in projects or explain what is expected of them, that is their role and responsibilities in the project.
Some years ago, I worked as a leader of a project office in a multinational company in which business managers were assigned as project sponsors for the entire life cycle of the project. At first, the results were not very good because the project managers often felt alone in front of customers.
Searching for a solution, I organized a workshop with the project sponsors. I asked some questions to find out the level of knowledge they had about their projects. Seventy percent of them did not know exactly the status of the project and fifty percent never visited the project customer. Most managers who acted as sponsors did not know much about the projects managed their project managers.
The sponsor must be involved in the project
Over the past five years, I have seen organizations focus on improving project management methodologies to implement and develop the career of project manager. But I have seen few organizations are aware that they must also develop the skills of its executives.
Organizations often confuse the role of project sponsor. Sometimes the sponsor is not sufficiently involved in the project. Other times, the project sponsor is too involved and acts as a super project manager, generating conflicts and problems.
The project sponsors must spend time with their project managers, with the team and with the customer: Executives learn how to become more effective and even potentially generate more business. Complex projects need sponsors that are more leaders than leaders, ie people setting guidelines for the future, communicate through a vision, to align their teams, they get adequate performance, and that focus on planning and the short-term goals. Complex projects need leaders who inspire people and join them in a motivated team with a common vision.