How can your project sponsor help you?



By Yogi Schulz

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Project managers and teams suffer dysfunctional consequences when project sponsors aren’t helping or shirk their roles. Projects flounder when sponsors are absent, hiding deliberately or unsure of their role.

Ideally, project managers collaborate with project sponsors and stakeholders to position projects for success, reduce risks, and mitigate the impact of the various issues that arise as projects proceed.

Here’s a list of actions project sponsors can undertake to help project managers and teams.

You can explore these and other tips to help project sponsors and project managers be more effective in our new book, A Project Sponsor’s Warp-Speed Guide – Improving Project Performance. It’s available from Amazon at this link.

Champions project benefits throughout the organization

The project sponsor and steering committee members must enthusiastically communicate, sell and defend the project benefits in meetings and informal discussions throughout the organization. If these individuals fail to champion the benefits or, worse, challenge the benefits or criticize the project, the project is doomed.

For example, they remind the organization of the project’s value proposition and maintain its commitment to the project at various management meetings or town hall events.

When this visible public support is not occurring, project managers provide project sponsors and steering committee members with brief talking points to encourage more communication.

Provides support and guidance for the project manager

The project sponsor provides support and guidance for the project manager. The project sponsor offers organizational insights to the project manager, who often does not have enough seniority and reputation for the organization to accept necessary but unwelcome recommendations.

When project managers feel neglected, they can reach out to project sponsors to reconfirm the following best practice points for their relationship:

  • Commit to a firm schedule of meetings with the project manager. The frequency is usually weekly or bi-weekly.
  • Respect the project manager’s mandate and delegation.
  • Provide open, frank feedback to the project manager on project observations and how improvements could be made.
  • Demand honest opinions from the project manager about project status and issues.
  • Guide the project manager in helpful areas such as internal politics, corporate history, and prejudices held by various stakeholders.
  • Will not create pressure to provide a false, overly optimistic project status.
  • Operate the project manager relationship based on mutual trust.
  • Ensure the project manager receives leadership coaching if needed.

Conversely, if the project sponsor loses confidence in the project manager, the project sponsor must replace the project manager.


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How to cite this article: Schulz, Y. (2024).  How can your project sponsor help you? PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/pmwj142-June2024-Schulz-how-can-your-project-sponsor-help-you.pdf

About the Author

Yogi Schulz

Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and systems project management.

Mr. Schulz regularly speaks to industry groups and writes a regular column for IT World Canada and for Engineering.com. He has written for Microsoft.com and the Calgary Herald. His writing focuses on project management and IT developments of interest to management. Mr. Schulz served as a member of the Board of Directors of the PPDM Association for twenty years until 2015. Learn more at https://www.corvelle.com/. He can be contacted at yogischulz@corvelle.com

His new book, co-authored by Jocelyn Schulz Lapointe, is “A Project Sponsor’s Warp-Speed Guide: Improving Project Performance.”

To view other works by Yogi Schulz, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yogi-schulz/