10 Nov The 10 Critical Success Factors of Effective Project Sponsorship
An executive project sponsor’s role is a difficult one to navigate and execute.
There are many strings pulling you in different directions, especially at the higher levels of management – such as multiple priorities and initiatives that compete for limited organizational resources, capacity, funding, and focus.
You also have a day job and perhaps other projects to support. To be effective you will need to focus on the high impact factors of project sponsorship.
According to extensive research on how executive sponsors influence project success the following ten factors are the most critical for success.
Project Initiation Phase:
1) Set performance standards
2) Select and monitor the project manager
3) Establish priorities
Project Planning Phase:
4) Ensure planning
5) Develop relationships with stakeholders
Project Execution Phase:
6) Ensure adequate and effective communication
7) Maintain relationships with stakeholders
8) Ensure quality
Project Closing Phase:
Timothy J. Kloppenborg and Debbie Tesch conducted four separate studies; one study for each of the stages of initiating, planning, executing and closing. In all, more than 1,000 people participated in the research (about one-third executives, one-third managers, and one-third consultants, educators and researchers).
The participants were recruited from professional groups, conferences and networks. About half had more than 25 years of experience. Just over half of the projects were less than one year in duration. About two-thirds of the participants were from the United States. No respondent helped in two consecutive parts of the research (such as focus group and pilot survey) or in the studies of two consecutive stages (such as initiating and planning).
For each study, they started with literature searches, discovering generally more than 100 possible sponsor behaviors. They then conducted focus groups with senior managers from various industries to help document similar behaviors, express ideas more clearly and eliminate irrelevant data.
They conducted pilot surveys to reduce the length of the study and eliminate any possible confusion. Then they conducted large-scale surveys. Finally, for each project stage, they conducted principal components analysis to identify, reduce and confirm both sponsor-behavior factors and project-success factors.
To estimate the effects of sponsor-behavior factors on the project-success factors, a path model was created for each project stage. This identified the core sponsor behaviors that a sponsor should perform at each project stage and the specific success factor each helps achieve.
In a nutshell: Successful project sponsorship isn’t as simple as this list, but it will put you on the right path for the journey.
Author Henrico Dolfing 1st October 2019
Detailed findings from the research were reported in the February/March 2014 issue of Project Management Journal.