OFFICIAL! Project sponsorship has been declared null and void.

At a meeting of the International Project Management Convocation (IProMco) this month, the Board ruled there was no need for projects to have a project sponsor.

The Board suggested that as the role was not being played out fully by project sponsors then it was ‘unnecessary.’ In addition, the amount of project sponsorship training has fallen dramatically over the last 24 months.  There were some heated debates and on a day when temperatures outside were a hot 40 degrees Celsius inside temperatures really rose as did tempers. The hosting delegation from Australia nearly walked out. They were however stopped when the Chair cited an obscure ruling.

Interesting decision however where’s the benefits management strategy?

The conclusion from the Board and ratified by the Senior Executive Committee was that because sponsors failed to carry out their role effectively and training was falling  it should cease to be an ‘official’ position in project management. The formal date for this to take place is 1 June, 2018.

The Board of IProMco said that there are some great advantages for project managers:

  • They will no longer need the sponsor to approve the business case and charter. This will save a lot of time in long badly run meetings a lot of meetings involving sponsors and stakeholders
  • Linked to the above the project manager will now provide direction and guidance for strategies and initiatives linked into the overall strategic agenda
  • The project manager will be able to make really important decisions. They have had the training especially around strategy and organisational politics so this is great. There will be no more waiting for sponsors to make a decision
  • The project manager will deal directly with all key stakeholders. No matter how senior and how committed they are to the project the project manager will now oversee this aspect. All the engagement, selling and getting buy in (especially where there are boundary management issues) will be down to the project manager

It will enable the project manager to make go/no go decisions. The sponsor only gets in the way so the project manager can easily cover this off!

They can take real risks – sponsorship reduces risk taking and stifles innovation!

IProMco suggest that there will be Time saving: this is as a result of the project manager being in two positions delivering the project alongside monitoring the project

The results of IProMco decision will take a while however it will be far reaching in its consequences.

I have one major question: who has done a benefits management study on this decision?


Image: Original image from Google Images amended labelled for use with modification


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7 Responses to OFFICIAL! Project sponsorship has been declared null and void.

  1. I agree that Sponsors are usually not effective. But I do not agree with the action proposed here. There should be a more fundamental discussion.

    It is, in my view, a discussion about the positioning of your project management. Is it a “delivery-focused”/supplier’s approach or is it a business case/customer’s approach?
    In the first approach (PMI/IPMA) you will have a sponsor that will indeed usually be not effective. In the second approach (PRINCE2) you will have a usually far more effective project owner.

    In this post I described the issues in greater detail:

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Hi and thanks for your comments Nico.

      What’s in a name? Project owner, project sponsor…..I think that the name does not matter. What does matter though is the need to ensure that the person carries out a role that adds value to the project management process. I have run many project sponsor workshops where I take people through a job role (after discussions and getting agreement with the company). I discuss in some detail the role they need to play and l;ink this into some solid research on the value of the project sponsor (my name however owner is fine by me. The results have been positive and there is now a clarity over what is required by the role holder.

      Sponsors are essential to projects. They need training, they need educating to play their role effectively.

      Finally, the latest PMI report (Pulse of the Profession 2018) says that effective project sponsorship is the number 1 driver for project success.

      Thank you Nico for your comments.

      • Hi Ron,

        As my reply shows I disagree, Ron. Semantics are very important. The role “Sponsor” has a very different meaning to people than e.g. the role “Owner”, which will be reflected in their behavior taking on accountability and responsibility. This is basically why using the term “Sponsor” will make the feeling of accountability disappear. A Sponsor will never take accountability (is the sponsor of a football team ever accountable for their results?).

        Add to that the way different approaches to project management see the project: is it supplier-driven (e.g. PMI/IPMA) or customer-driven (e.g. PRINCE2)? In a customer-driven project, the Executive will take accountability. In a supplier-driven project, the sponsor (customer) probably can not and will take accountability.

        Especially the combination of semantics and approach can make accountability disappear.

        Best regards,

  2. Andy Dobson says:

    Controversial as ever Ron…

  3. Paul Sumners says:

    This is an April fool surely. If true then the arrogance of PMs knows no bounds. Projects will fail to deliver business results – even more than currently.

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Hi Paul. I could not possibly comment about it being a spoof!!

      Thanks for connecting and commenting.

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