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Why are project sponsors so important?

by Martyn Green on May 13, 2011

To plan and continue to have a successful intranet, it is vital that you have a project sponsor. But what exactly is a project sponsor? What role do they play in ensuring your intranet is a success?

A project sponsor, sometimes referred to as an intranet champion, is an individual with the authority and finances to adopt the new technology.

Your first step will be identifying potential project sponsors within your organisation. Ideally, this person should be someone at senior management level. They should have access to funding and the authority to oversee the project whilst making strategic decisions.

Make sure you don’t just allocate the role to an individual you consider as suitable. You want to select someone who is willing to see the project through to the end.

Reasons for having a project sponsor are:-

  • To keep senior management informed about the project and raise awareness with them.
  • To ensure the project has adequate financial backing.
  • To guide the strategic direction for the intranet.
  • To understand the goals and purpose of the intranet.
  • The sponsor gives the intranet project priority.
  • Internal political issues can be resolved by a senior level sponsor.

So what happens when the right project sponsor is not on board?

Although the project may still reach completion, the intranet is less likely to succeed because:-

  • With no senior decision maker the project could get stalled by internal conflicts.
  • It may not be aligned with the overall business objectives, lacking direction.
  • Long term costs may be higher as the intranet may need to be reviewed in the future.

The project sponsor’s role isn’t over when the new intranet has been implemented. It is their duty to ensure that the intranet is successfully adopted by their employees. A good sponsor will be continuously involved with strategy, providing the flexibility to make changes as the company grows or business needs change.

Our most successful customer intranets have been those that were backed by a sponsor that embraced the intranet’s vision. Their sponsors have identified their intranet goals and ensured they are aligned with business objectives.

One final point to note is that should your sponsor need to move to other projects, you will need to identify a likeminded individual to replace them. This will allow for successful continuity of the project.

Topics: 2. Plan

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