Monday, 10 February 2014

O Sponsor, Sponsor! wherefore art thou Sponsor?

Shakespeare knew a bit about Project Management and many of his quotes have relevance to Project Managers. In this post, I want to focus in on his quote "O Sponsor, Sponsor! wherefore art thou Sponsor?" - OK, maybe I have tweaked it a little unless your sponsor happens to be named Romeo :-) 

Shakespeare knew a bit about Project Management

Who is the Sponsor?

You are given a project to run. Amongst your early questions should be, "who is the Sponsor?" Sometimes you may receive the answer "there isn't one and there is no need for this project" WRONG!
The Sponsor should be on the hook to deliver the benefits and no Sponsor could mean no benefits have been thought about for the project which is bad news - put bluntly, if the nobody has an idea what benefits the project might deliver at the outset, you need to question whether to start?

When No Sponsor is seen, think of Shakespeare

But I have been faced with the situation of no Sponsor when picking up a project and have resorted to Shakespeare for help. Go searching. "Who is the person who will benefit from the project?" If you can't find the person to "own" the project, exit Stage left as Shakespeare might have said. Remember you might "run" the project day to day but you don't "own" it i.e. set the objectives, constraints, benefit case, be the authoriser of plans and budgets etc - all the things I look towards the Sponsor for.

Project Governance Roles

I will not run a project without a Sponsor which is the minimum form of governance. But PRINCE2 extends the concept in a useful way and if possible, try and form a "Project Board" which has a number of roles:

1) Sponsor (or Executive as PRINCE2 likes to name the role)
  • ultimately responsible for the project
  • chairs the board 
  • owns the business case
  • ensures the project is value for money and balances the demands of business, "user" and "supplier"
2) Senior User(s)
  • the specification of the needs of all those who will use the final product(s)
  • user liaison 
  • securing key user resources in the business
  • monitoring that the solution will meet those needs within the constraints of the Business Case in terms of quality, functionality, and ease of use
3) Senior Supplier(s)
  • represents the interests of those designing, developing, facilitating, procuring, implementing (and possibly operating and maintaining) the project products
  • securing resources in the team developing the products

Conclusion

So go hunting when you get given your project. And when you have your first Project Board meeting, I always include the responsibilities of the Project Board members in the slide pack. Then there are no excuses regarding what I am expecting!

Back to Shakespeare. In his quote "O Sponsor, Sponsor wherefore art thou Sponsor?" many people think that the old English "wherefore" means where but it really means why. Exactly the question to be asked when seeking a Sponsor.

I told you Shakespeare knew a bit about Project Management in the 16th century!

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