Engagement of Project Sponsors and Business Owners

As a project manager you need to know that all Sponsors and Business Owners want no surprises. Some of them might just not know it.

They are like the leader of a cycling peloton, focused on the direction ahead and pulling the pack behind. When they look around its your eyes they should meet for reassurance.

So how do you get these people to look for you? You do this by making contact in a way that creates a relationship.

Develop a relationship

Sponsors and Business Owners are busy people your job is to decipher the right style, frequency and depth of contact to build this relationship.

You need to do some homework to set these relationships up. Ask yourself, how does this person prefer to engage? Check with colleagues, their peers and their administration staff.

  • What is their style, do they relate better to words, pictures or numbers?
  • What frequency of meeting do they prefer, daily, weekly, or monthly and for how long – 5 minutes, 10 minutes or an hour? 
  • What is the depth of the relationship, is it a phone call, coffee, a meeting or some form of written report?

The most successful projects are where the sponsor is engaged by the project and some form of relationship is formed that empowers them to make the difficult decisions.

Focus on what is needed

Sponsors and Business Owners need your reading on the current and future state of the project. These conversations build trust. They want to reduce risk – removing fear, uncertainty and doubt as much as possible.

Set your difficult conversations up as scenarios using common project constraints. Talk about where your project is and where it needs to get to, use Time, Cost, Quality, Scope and Benefits to tell your risk story. Always give your sponsor and business owner a preferred option.

Nurture the relationship

Once you’ve built a successful Sponsor or Business Owner relationship nurture it, you will need your sponsor and business owner to be your biggest supporters.

There will be times when you meet each other where you may have nothing new to bring to the table. Do it anyway. These are the times when there is space to explore what could be.

Or as a successful project manager I met recently says: “be truthful, meet regularly and never cancel” .