Project managers and sponsors work hand in hand on projects. Project managers do not get to choose the sponsor that they want to work with. Typically, a sponsor is already in place, before a project is assigned to a manager. If your sponsor does not understand the roles that he/she need to fulfill, then you should be be bringing up the same with them, else you may be held responsible in case the project falls through. Here are some essential functions of a project sponsor.
A sponsor should ensure that a project has sufficient resources to go about its operations. Whether it is at the start of a project or due to a change in process, it’s the project sponsor’s job to see if the project is well equipped resource-wise, and arrange for the same if otherwise.
Say you need additional funding or financial resources for a project, then a project sponsor should facilitate the same. Of course, this may turn out to be a smooth or difficult process, depending on whether they are relying on other departments for funding or otherwise.
Facilitate change decisions
In a project scenario, any change that has to be introduced should be approved by the project sponsor. The project manager merely presents the change process to the sponsor, along with recommendation and information on how it impacts the current project plan and timeline. The sponsor should facilitate any changes that have to be made if they find it suitable.
While most project issues can be handled by a project manager, some of them are out of their scope. This is where a project sponsor steps in. The sponsor will have to resolve issues related to project risks, conflicting objectives, and so on, which are not under the project manager’s role of authority or supervision.
Communicate with stakeholders
A project sponsor is undoubtedly the advocate of a project, and it’s her/his job to obtain commitment from stakeholders. They communicate the progress of the project with key stakeholders and senior management from time to time, by staying updated about project progress from regular talks with the project manager.
Mentor the project manager
A project sponsor acts as a mentor to a project manager, just how the manager does to team members. The project sponsor guides the manager through operational decisions and business matters, so they take strategic decisions in the leadership role.