Posts Tagged ‘development’

July 27, 2017

The following executive sponsorship development methodology has been designed and proven by Peter Taylor – find out more peter.b.taylor@btinternet.com

Critical to any project’s success is having a good project manager. We all know that, but then it is also pretty important to have a good project sponsor: but like the saying goes ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t pick you relatives’. The same might be said of project sponsors.

It has been my experience that the skill profile of project managers continues to grow, and more and more organisations are investing in project managers in a disciplined and mature manner. But the same cannot always be said of project sponsors; many wrongly believe that project sponsor is just a figurehead – never called to actual duty – and for these reasons I concluded some time ago that we are in the age of the ‘accidental project sponsor’.

But how do you effectively go about developing project sponsors inside an organisation? In my book ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ (Management Concepts 2013) I uncovered the reality – 85% of organisations had project sponsors in place, yet 83% of these organisations did nothing to help, train, support, guide, or develop these sponsors, and yet 100% of these same organisations recognised that having a good project sponsor was critical to project success! Go figure!

But the challenge is that these sponsors, these executive leaders, are ‘too cool for school’. And so, I have developed a process, or methodology, that recognises that a different approach is required to raise necessary standards in project sponsorship (see figure above).

Stage 1 Preparation work

Here it is important to collect some background into the current project success rates and issues, and taking comment on the ‘health’ of project sponsorship inside an organisation

Aligning terminology used (for the workshop)

Gathering any sponsorship templates or guidelines in place

Agreeing format/timing/delivery of the workshop

Stage 2 Workshop

Here the key is to take a collective of the executive leadership on a journey of understanding of the importance and value of project sponsorship in general – not to target individuals or to challenge specifics; but only to reach consensus that ‘investment in sponsorship is needed’, and that ‘there is real value in this investment’ for the business

Delivery of the workshop

Summarising output and recommendations

Stage 3 Project Manager Development

Here the key for project managers, whilst the ongoing project sponsorship is happening, is to empower them to work effectively with the sponsors they have right now. Development would include; what role a sponsor should play and what good sponsorship looks like, how to understand the sponsor they have right now and how to work more effectively with them, understanding the role that project managers should play in developing project sponsorship inside their own organisation, and recognising (at a personal level) what is needed to make the transition from project manager to project sponsor.

Stage 4 Sponsor Coaching

Here, once the awareness workshop is completed, then the most productive way I have found to work the existing project sponsors is through one-to-one coaching. Away from the glare of their peers and in privacy of their own offices, many are more open to change and also open to asking for help and guidance of becoming better project sponsors. This allows for a very personal, private, and focused engagement to bring the best possible outcome with regards to sponsorship capability; it also offers the opportunity to identify ‘good sponsors’ and ‘good sponsorship behaviour’ to use as a showcase for others.

Stage 5 Project Manager Surgery

Here there is the realisation that this is not a one-time solution and there will be questions and challenges. To follow up on the project management training regarding sponsorship, the open offer of a ‘surgery’ perhaps one month later, allows the project managers to come back with questions and requests for help with regards to the sponsors they are working with on a day to day basis. This, in turn, contributes to the effectivity of the one-to-one coaching of the same project sponsors with whom the project managers are working with.

Stage 6 – Health Check

Here it is good to take a step back and consider, objectively, the progress that has been made, and what needs further effort of focus and, of course, to celebrate success and progress amongst sponsors and project managers. If there are areas requiring further effort, then make the necessary plans at this stage. But if reasonable improvements are recognisable, now is perhaps a great time to bring the communities together in some way in a combined acknowledgement of joint achievement.

A final part – Future Project Sponsorship Development

The key to all of this is the need for organisations to acknowledge that the projects they sanction are the ones they believe will deliver the business’s strategic objectives. To succeed in these initiatives, then it is logical that they would want these projects to be as low-risk as possible and key, if not critical. Part of this low-risk management strategy is to invest in and support great project sponsors – now and in the future. Therefore, to formalise project sponsorship development can be considered the best possible investment for future change.

Peter Taylor is a PMO expert who has built and led four global PMOs across several industries, and has advised many other organisations in PMO and PM strategy.

He is also the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, along with many other books on project leadership, PMO development, project marketing, project challenges and ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’.

In the last 5 years, he has delivered over 250 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’.

His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the battle of the work/life balance.

More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

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