Earlier we covered how to maintain enthusiasm for early-stage projects within your Project Team, but what about finding the sponsors that every project needs? Without them, your project is unlikely to have enough support for final approval. Fortunately, in the majority of situations, your sponsors will come to you—they’ll have a project in mind and will bring along a good dose of eagerness (and hopefully some much-welcome resources and a willingness to help move the project on to final approval). But occasionally a potential project will find its way to your Project Team through other channels, leaving you to recruit sponsors and convince them of the project’s merits. We’ve put together some guidelines for attracting influential sponsors and keeping them engaged throughout the process.
Finding the right sponsors. The ideal project sponsor is one who brings two important factors to the table: they’re aligned with or support the groups who will reap the largest benefit if the project is brought to fruition, and they have the clout and the seniority to successfully negotiate for or ensure approval of sufficient resources. You may need to seek out multiple sponsors to gather the right mix of those interested in the project’s benefits and those able to get adequate funds and staffing allocated. Start with the department heads and work your way up.
Keeping sponsors excited. The vetting and approval process can sometimes be quite lengthy, and keeping sponsors interested and supportive is occasionally a challenge. However, this situation also presents you with a handy bit of persuasion—the longer the project doesn’t happen, the longer your sponsors can see how inefficient and expensive their operations are right now. Use that data to continue reminding sponsors about the project’s long-term capacity to save time, save money, increase efficiencies, and improve your organization’s competitive advantage.