Reviews in for Strategies for Project Sponsorship

Thanks Jon Hyde for this review on Amazon UK:

Strategies For Project Sponsorship (SPS) is a fine (and entertaining!) book by project management gurus Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead and Peter Taylor, which plugs a gaping hole in industry literature by comprehensively, pragmatically, and concisely addressing all aspects of project sponsorship. A quick scan of Amazon reveals just a handful of other books with a similar focus, compared with project management titles which run into the tens of thousands! Coupled with the fact that effective project sponsorship is consistently cited as a major project success factor, we’re left scratching our heads as to why this area has remained so neglected for so long – BUT the wait is over!

SPS is a well written, well structured, waffle free zone, brimming with practical advice for project managers and sponsors alike. The book covers the entire project life cycle and clearly explains how the roles and responsibilities of the project sponsor should interface with those of the project manager at each stage of the cycle. The authors have helpfully split the book into three parts: I) For the Project Manager; II) For the Sponsor; III) For the Organisation. This is great as sponsors are far more likely to read their specific section (everyone loves to feel special, right?) – 27 pages of solid gold – than to find the time to read an entire book.

The book benefits from the combined authorship of three industry giants who have a vast amount of cross sector, international experience between them. I particularly enjoyed the real world case studies that are presented throughout the book, which bring concepts and strategies to life. The material presented is backed up by references to some serious research, notably The Standish Group’s 2012 CHAOS report, The Year of The Executive Sponsor, as well as the results of surveys conducted by the authors – detailed results of which are presented in the appendices.

I liked the book’s coverage of soft skills e.g. how to bond with and influence your sponsor and project team; how to work with challenging sponsors; how to upskill your sponsor! The authors point out that many experienced sponsors may be `Too cool for school’, and instead propose more subtle (education by stealth!) approaches to addressing the sponsorship skills and knowledge gap.

Overall, `Strategies for project sponsorship’ is highly readable (only took me a few hours) and frequently had me chuckling out loud – a most unusual and welcome quality in a management book! The authors conclude with a call to action to join the `Campaign for Real Project Sponsors`: Well Vicki, Ron, Peter, you had me at hello! The book is also complemented by a LinkedIn Group of great people, devoted to the cause, that I’m pretty sure you’ll want to join as soon as you put it down.

Thanks Mike Clayton for this review on Amazon UK:

Strategies for Project Sponsorship addresses a vital and much neglected area of project management. It is a large subject area and the authors tackle it from two principal perspectives: from that of the Project Manager looking for tips about how to “handle” their sponsor, and from that of the sponsor focusing on their responsibilities and how to handle them. There is a third, organisational perspective, which is by far the weakest.

The PM perspective is well handled, with lots of good tips, although I did find that parts of the “working with challenging sponsors” chapter sometimes came across as flippant and thin. I think this first part is why most of the audience will buy the book, and they will get a lot of useful tips.

For me, it is part 2 – for the sponsor – that is the most valuable part of the book and I hope that many project sponsors will take up the authors’ challenge to improve sponsorship skills and practices. For this reason, I found part 3 – for the organisation – the big disappointment. This is the main justification and, in parts, impassioned plea, that the authors put for good sponsorship. They are spot on. So, I would really like to have seen more on the strategic role of project sponsors in organisational governance and in the process of selecting the right portfolio of projects.

This is a good book, that could easily have been a great book. It is a tactical manual with a lot of good ideas, that has missed out on being a classic. It is the only book of its kind, however, so I recommend it highly, and hope it does well enough to merit a second edition. If that happens, then my plea is for more strategic focus, to supplement the good tactical support it offers.

Thanks Michael Greer for this review on Amazon US:

Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations. As a PM author reading this book, I found myself in awe of how nimbly the authors weaved together seemingly disparate elements: here citing research findings, there providing war stories or case study examples, and finally pivoting to morph these into powerful, ready-to-use tools. As someone who’s both managed projects and trained project managers for more than three decades, I know this for certain: This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase.

Here are six reasons I believe this book will become an instant PM classic:
1. It shares powerful PM wisdom, based on real-world experience, regarding the subtle and nuanced process of sponsoring a project.
2. It provides insights that are typically unavailable to project managers without spending years gaining experience and acquiring scar tissue!
3. It provides practical, easy-to-use tools for project managers.
4. It does what every project manager has always wanted to do: It gently, but firmly, educates project sponsors about their crucial role.
5. It provides practical, easy-to-use tools for project sponsors.
6. It is firmly grounded in research. (Specifically, an extensive original survey: The Strategies for Project Sponsorship Survey and The Standish Group’s CHAOS Manifesto 2012: The Year of the Executive Sponsor)

Reading this book, I had two voices in my head repeatedly proclaiming enthusiastically:
* “Yes! That’s right! I know exactly what they’re saying. I learned that same lesson myself via the School of Hard Knocks on the [XYZ] project a few years ago.”
* “Wow! What a great resource! This is the tool I’ve always needed, but didn’t realize I was missing!”

My recommendation: If you manage projects, get a copy of Strategies for Project Sponsorship for yourself. And then get one for all your project sponsors.

 

More reviews on all Amazon sites and others always welcome – thank you

 

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