We don’t do it often, but there are times when putting together a big and complicated puzzle is a fun and rewarding family activity. It will sometimes take several days to do it, and those times when we do tend to put a puzzle out on the card table are during holidays or other special occasions when all the kids are home visiting.
As fun as successfully finishing a puzzle can be, getting to the end and finding that all the pieces aren’t there is incredibly frustrating. You need all the pieces to finish successfully … sound familiar?
I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of us recognize that without a project team and a project leader, not much gets done. They are critical parts of the project management puzzle. However, just like the tiny parts of the puzzle that aren’t the easiest to find (yet without them the puzzle wouldn’t be finished), I don’t think we can ignore the other players who contribute to project success. In my opinion, the role project stakeholders play is critical to project success.
Although there are times when a project might not require a formal project sponsor, there are many times when they do. In fact, there are times when a project without a sponsor could even be doomed to fail. However, simply having a sponsor isn’t enough. Let me share a couple of sponsor issues that can contribute to an unfinished project puzzle:
- The sponsor’s role is not clearly defined: Don’t assume that the project sponsor knows his or her role in the project. Most business people don’t really understand the project management process (they just think they do). Make sure sponsor know exactly what’s expected of them. It’s never a good idea to make them guess about their role. They will appreciate the explanation and you will appreciate the results.
- You sponsor falls out of the loop: If your sponsor doesn’t have the political clout within your organization to help you push issues forward, he or she won’t add much value to the project. It’s important to pay attention to how connected your sponsor is to the decision-makers in your organization. Remember, ineffective executives sometimes get the ax too. Don’t let your project languish on the chopping block along with them.
Sponsor relationships should add value to your project. If they don’t, you may need to evaluate whether it’s the way you interact with your sponsor, or whether you simply have the wrong piece to you project management puzzle.
What do you do to manage sponsor relationships? Have you ever had to work with a sponsor who was “out of the loop?”