March 21, 2011, 4:49 PM — by Ty Kiisel, @task - As a project manager, the relationship you foster with project sponsors is largely up to you. Everyone, including the project sponsor, has a role to play that helps determine whether a project is successful or struggles. However, unlike most members of the team, a project sponsor might not completely understand his or her role. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for keeping sponsors engaged and participating.
1. Schedule regular meetings (usually monthly) with sponsors, team members and other important stakeholders: This may be a good time for a quick status update, but more importantly, it is a time for reinforcing the value and significance of the project in terms of business value and the sponsor’s commitment to helping the team.
2. Educate the sponsor on their role as part of the team: The sponsor has an important role as project advocate in steering/stakeholder committee meetings to communicate with other stakeholders and provide visibility to executives. Don’t assume your sponsor understands his or her role, you may need to provide a little guidance so they know what they’re supposed to do to help the project move forward.
3. Don’t neglect impromptu one-on-one time with the project sponsor: Make sure your sponsor is willing to have occasional informal meetings when needed. It’s important to cultivate the relationship with the sponsor because your success impacts their success within the organization too.
Keeping sponsors engaged often makes the difference between a project that succeeds and one that fails. Project management tools that facilitate sponsor and stakeholder communication can make this easier, but regardless of whether or not it’s part of your work management solution, allowing project sponsors to sit on the sidelines isn’t a good idea.
How do you keep your project sponsors involved? Is there anything we can add to the list?