Strategies for Project Sponsorship

Critical to any projects success is having a good project manager we all know but after that then it is pretty important to have a good project sponsor, in fact it can be argued that the project sponsor is the more critical role; but, like the saying goes, ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives’ and the same is true of project sponsors.

There are many ‘types’ of project sponsor and some are really good at what they do but most can, at best, be described as the ‘accidental project sponsor’ – never having been trained, supported, or advised as to what is expected of them. This was confirmed in some startling figures uncovered during the research for our book ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ (Management Concepts Press) – remember these numbers, 85, 83 and 100. We found that 85 % of people who responded to our survey declared that their organizations had ‘project sponsorship in place’, a good number, not perfect of course, but not bad. But then 83% of the same organizations did absolutely nothing to help, aid, guide, support, train the sponsors in place, they just assumed that they could ‘learn on the job’ or naturally had all the skills necessary. And finally, to cap it all off, 100% of people said that ‘project sponsorship was critical to project success’. Well these are pretty a scary numbers, and we are not alone in focusing on this key issue, The Standish Group in its report Chaos Manifesto 2012: The Year of The Executive Sponsor, stated: ‘We believe improvement in the skills of the executive sponsor is the single most important factor that will increase project success’.

If you are a project manager then ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ offers advice on many types of sponsor with suggestions for ways to work with them, or compensate for their ‘skills’ or ‘interest’ gaps. They also speak of the concept of a ‘balanced sponsor’ – being involved in the project, being objective about the project, being supportive of the project, and being reactive to project needs.

The authors then turn their attention to the project sponsors themselves with a definition of what makes for a good sponsor and how to develop these skills.

And finally a challenge is laid down to the organizations themselves to take project sponsorship seriously and invest in their sponsors (and therefore in their project portfolio).

Remember, 85, 83 and 100 and join us in the Campaign for Real Project Sponsors.

It has been said that ‘A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager’ – but wouldn’t we all be that much happier if that ‘giant leap’ was supported by a really focused and competent project sponsor?



Vicki James, PMP, CBAP (Seattle, WA, USA)    Vicki is passionate about learning and sharing best practices in project management and business analysis. Certified in both project management (Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute since 2005) and business analysis (Certified Business Analysis Professional from the International Institute of Business Analysis in since 2010) provides a broad view to support project governance and processes. Vicki spent 11-years in the public sector successfully delivering projects to support governmental operations. Today she provides private consulting to government and private industry clients in addition to writing and presenting on all things project. Vicki is a contributor to The Complete Project Manager (2012) by Randall Englund and Alfonso Bucero as well as a popular blogger and Tweeter.

Peter Taylor, PMP (Coventry UK)   Peter Taylor is the author of two best-selling books on ‘Productive Laziness’ – ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. In the last 4 years he has focused on writing and lecturing with over 200 presentations around the world in over 20 countries and with new books out including ‘The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’, ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’, ‘Leading Successful PMOs’, and ‘The Project Manager Who Smiled’. He has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’ and he also acts as an independent consultant working with some of the major organizations in the world coaching executive sponsors, PMO leaders and project managers.  His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the battle of the work/life balance.

Ron Rosenhead (London, UK)  Ron Rosenhead is known for his highly practical approach to life alongside project management. Over 25 years as a trainer and consultant with the last 17 years specializing in helping organisations to increase the probability of project success. He has personally trained, coached over 10,000 people in the project management world; some project managers, others project sponsors. He has worked across sectors: financial services, public sector, engineering, pharmaceuticals, universities, car retailing, It etc. He is a professional speaker and author of Deliver that Project (an e-book), is a regular blogger and tweeter. Ron regularly writes practical project management training materials which are in use all over the world.


To order the book and for more information go to and also join our LinkedIn group ‘Project Sponsors’.