My plea to project sponsors

Project manager (PM) – so you are asking me to deliver this project by 30 January 2013? (This is after a 30 minute discussion about the project)

Project sponsor (PS) – yes, that’s right

PM – At this stage, I cannot be certain that we can deliver this by the end date.

PS. Why do you say this?

PM –  Well, we have not developed a business case yet and established what the business benefits will be. I cannot see where the 31 January 2013 fits.

PS – It’s the date I promised delivery. I gave this date to the Board

PM – I understand the promise however as mentioned, I cannot guarantee that the project will deliver by that date. I am at a loss as to why you have given a date for delivery to the board when I as a project manager haven’t been involved in discussions on delivery date.

PS – Well, that’s the end date you will need to work to

PM – OK, so as project manager I will need 3 more staff or £28,000 to hire some extra staff to cover that period. That’s my estimation of how this project will be delivered by the date you have given

I want this project by.......

PS – But how can you say that without going through the planning process?

PM – Easy, I have used the same way you have estimated the end date!

PS – Ah!


Well, let’s leave these 2 to discuss the outcome……………..

My plea to all project sponsors; please, do not promise to deliver by a specific date or budget without consulting your project manager. I have had so many project managers’ complain to me that they are left with impossible deadlines given in the spur of the moment. Yes, there are those projects that absolutely must be delivered by a specific date – compliance type projects spring to mind. But, and it is a big but, ensure delivery dates (and budgets) are realistic, and not given ‘on the hoof.’

So, to repeat my plea to all project sponsors; please, do not promise to deliver by a specific date or budget without consulting with your project manager

Picture by

This entry was posted in project management training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My plea to project sponsors

  1. Gill Key says:

    …. On the other hand, what if there is a requirement for a project to be finished by a certain date and the project manager is given a clear request to produce the best product he can do within those parameters? I’ve seen this from the other side where a project team is determined to produce a high quality product however long it takes, without taking into consideration market forces. By the time the project is complete on those quality standards, the market will have moved on, when the reality is that a satisfactory quality product would have been sufficient to satisfy market needs, gain market share after which, the product could have been upgraded at leisure.

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Thanks for these comments.

      I have no problem with your analysis: however what is too often missing is the dialogue between the project sponsor and the project manager. Fast and dirty v quick and over engineered – its something that needs to be debated and explained and for the perfectionist project manager. BUT, communication is needed first alongside the sponsor checking that this is happening.

      Thanks again, Ron

  2. Gill Key says:

    Completely agree. Communication first, last and throughout the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *