What is a project/program sponsor?

The sponsor champions the project/program by acting as the project/program's highest level change leader, communicating the importance to stakeholders and senior leadership, and obtaining buy in and collaboration. The sponsor is accountable for (owns) the solution’s success by supporting the project/program manager, facilitating problem solving, ensuring the solution can be sustainable, and exercising strategic control to achieve project/program objectives and business benefits. 

How do I define who the sponsor should be?

The sponsor should be the highest/most influential senior leader possible who has demonstrable interest/concern for the project/program’s solution and success, in proportion to the project/program’s risk and scope.

The sponsor should meet the following criteria:

  • Have a clear definition of what change must occur and why
  • Have direct accountability to senior leadership
  • Have  the power and ability to lead the change and commit resources towards the change
  • Have the authority to execute timely decisions
  • Have the ability to demonstrate public support to instigate the change
  • Be willing to be held accountable for the project/program outcome
  • Be willing to commit the time and support towards the project/program
  • Believe the project/program’s goals and objectives can be met

What are the sponsor’s responsibilities?

  • The sponsor is accountable for the success of the project/program.  To achieve this, the sponsor will
    • Ensure the business needs are valid, correctly prioritized, and documented in the business case (if applicable)
    • Ensure the project/program delivers the agreed sustainable business benefits, goals and objectives
    • Ensure the project/program is properly launched
    • Ensure changes to the project/program are properly approved
    • Resolve issues and conflicts and remove obstacles that are beyond the control of the project/program manager
    • Obtain commitment and buy in from senior leadership
    • Obtain and commit appropriate resources (budget and people)
    • Ensure project/program manager achieves project objectives
  • Approve key project deliverables such as the business case, charter, milestones/stage gates, final sign off and closeout
  • Provide appropriate updates and negotiations/facilitation with senior leadership and IT governance bodies