Executive sponsor

Executive sponsor

Executive Sponsor (sometimes called Project Sponsor) is a role in project management, usually the senior member of the project board and often the chair. In smaller organisations (or small projects within larger organisations) the executive sponsor may also be the project manager but typically (especially where a methodology such as PRINCE2 is used) the project sponsor will be a senior executive in a corporation (often at or just below board level) who is responsible to the business for the success of the project.

Where the role of executive sponsor exists as a separate role the person in that role rarely becomes involved in the running of the project. Their role centres around:
* Championing the project
* Obtaining budgets for the project
* Accepting responsibility for problems escalated from the project manager.
* Signing off documents such as the business case and project initiation document

Due to the problem solving needs of the role the executive sponsor often needs to be able to exert pressure within the organisation to overcome resistance to the project. For this reason the executive sponsor will ideally be a person with great executive/political authority and natural authority.

A few research studies have been published that not only detail the role of this individual within project management but also provide a way to ensure that the success of a project is greater increased if this individual plays a more active role.

One such research study, published by Elazar Lechtman (Elli Lechtman) and Professor Lessing Labuschagne (both at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa) titled "A Holistic Framework for successfully sponsoring IT projects from an IT governance perspective"; provides one of the first detailed masters-level dissertations on the role of the individual.

The dissertation, available from [http://etd.rau.ac.za/theses/available/etd-09012006-130759/] addresses both the formal and informal aspects of the role of the project sponsor and has provided guidance to organisations and professional associations in defining the role and responsibilities of the project sponsor within a corporate governance framework.

Additional studies have been conducted by members of the Project Management Institute, in particular, Dr Lynn Crawford and Christine Brett (both at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia). The research study is titled "Exploring the Role of the Project Sponsor" and is available from [http://www.projects.uts.edu.au/resources/pdfs/PMINZ2001CrawfordBrett.pdf]

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