Project Sponsor – The Role and Responsibilities

project sponsor: definition, types, role, respomsibilities

Successful initiation and delivery of a project is always based on project sponsorship – a senior management role to support a project financially and through providing consulting and leadership.

If your project is well-funded by the project sponsor (who acts as an initiator, investor, key decision maker, advisor, administrator), your team gets the necessary resources and support to carry out the works, achieve the objectives and produce the deliverables as per the project plan. The sponsor authorizes the allocation of funds and makes key decisions related to cash flows within your project.

Who is a Project Sponsor? - Definition
Let’s briefly talk about the role, responsibilities and types of project sponsor.

Who is a Project Sponsor?

In terms of stakeholder management, a project sponsor is a person(s) or an organization(s) that is in charge of moving the project towards directions that will bring it to the successful realization of expected benefits. Project sponsor administers project finances, approves ideas and changes, participates in making key decisions, takes care of engagement and communication processes, facilitates the development of initial scope and the project charter, and participates in stakeholder management.

The major responsibilities and activities of a project sponsor include:

  • Negotiate funding for the project and be a spokesperson to the senior management
  • Provide direction and guidance for project empowerment, key business strategies and project initiatives
  • Identify and qualify project benefits and manage project benefits realization
  • Participate in initial project planning, including developing the project chart and the project scope
  • Identify members of Steering Committee and facilitate the work of project management office (optionally)
  • Review changes to the project environment, including schedules, priorities, tasks, etc.
  • Identify project critical success factors and approve deliverables
  • Negotiate with stakeholders to gain consensus when differences of opinion take place
  • Involve stakeholders in the project and maintain their ongoing commitment to the project through using communication strategies and project management planning methods
  • Evaluate the project’s success on completion.

Project Sponsorship: Four Roles

Project sponsor is critical to strategic planning, high project sustainability, and successful implementation of project objectives. The role of project sponsor covers the financial and organizational responsibilities and activities that are directed to effective governance of the project.

In this article, we briefly describe the following four roles relating to project sponsorship. Each role represents the focus area and the responsibilities that the project sponsor is supposed to fulfill to completely address project governance and delivery.

At least one distinct person should be assigned to each role, and those individuals should have prior relevant experience in project management even if they are not assigned to delivery responsibility.

#1. Executive Sponsor

This stakeholder is the highest-level project management executive who is sponsoring the entire project initiative (usually, in the form of direct funding of the business case) in the organization that is implementing the project.

Key responsibilities:

  • Provides sponsorship and financial support
  • Establishes a project funding model and approves sources of financing
  • Governs change management and escalation processes.

#2. Business Analyst

A person obtaining this project sponsorship role is typically a senior business management professional with a slight technical background to understand in detail the entire value chain of the project delivery cycle and to determine the business needs for the project.

In simple terms, Business Analyst looks at every activity that the project team deals with and helps in improving performance through data analysis.

Key responsibilities:

  • Analyzes and documents the value chain throughout the project
  • Controls and analyzes the project delivery process
  • Provides suggestions for improvements to the project plan
  • Establishes and governs performance standards.

#3. Technical Advisor

This role involves the highest-level technical consulting and leadership to establish and support the technical infrastructure of the project in the performing organization. Technical Advisor makes strategic decisions regarding using, acquiring, and phasing out technology throughout the project life-cycle.

Key responsibilities:

  • Establishes a technology stack for the project
  • Plans and evolves system capacity and architecture requirements
  • Provide technical guidance and leadership
  • Promotes and governs technology use and reuse.

#4. Strategy Lead

This role is typically taken by a full-time employee in the performing organization who organizes, articulates, and drives the agenda for project implementation activities.

Strategy Lead works closely with the project manager to agree on the project scope and change management. This stakeholder has a full-time commitment to translating the chosen business strategy into action plans activities by means of project management and implementation.

Key responsibilities:

  • Determines and manages the strategic elements of the business case
  • Prioritizes overall project pipeline
  • Facilitates requirements development
  • Establishes and governs methods and standards of project delivery and tracks project progress.

Eric Morkovich

Eric is a enthusiastic project manager who has worked on various projects in the software industry for over ten years. He took a variety of roles and responsibilities for projects and teams. Today Eric helps product companies in reviewing and improving their software definition, development and implementation processes. Follow Eric on Twitter.

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