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Ten Questions Project Managers Should Ask Project Sponsors

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 17th October 2013

Being a project manager requires various skills to get the project done successfully in the allotted timeframe. Project managers need effective project sponsorship to ensure proper funding. Each sponsor will wish to discuss the project’s budget and other crucial factors, but project managers should first ask these 10 questions to retain the right sponsors.

1. What Is Your Role in This Project?

Project sponsors play a key role between the organization’s management and its project management team. The sponsor should “own” the project and be responsible for the realization of intended benefits, assisting with the facilitation of organizational support for strategizing and creating successful projects.

2. What Do You Want Out of This Project?

Project managers need to know what their sponsors expect out of the project. Sponsors who are unsure of what they want will create a lot of confusion during the project, requiring the project manager to make changes and redo tasks that could result in the project not meeting the designated deadline.

3. Will You Provide the Necessary Support?

Project sponsors advocate the project by continually communicating a personal commitment for the project’s success to senior management and stakeholders. Project managers should ensure the sponsors maintain interest and visibility, obtaining the proper resources and providing adequate funding in operational and business matters.

4. When Are You Available?

Project sponsors are often extremely busy executives, which may limit their availability. Sponsors may be geographically or hierarchically remote, but project managers need to still implement one-on-one meetings to make sure the project is running smoothly.

5. Can You Provide Clear Priorities?

Project managers should discover the primary objectives, such as scope, schedule, or resources, of the sponsors. Managers should ask the sponsor which objective is least flexible, which objective is the most flexible for the project, and why the sponsor feels this is so.

6. Do You Fully Understand that Discipline Is Vital to the Project?

Many sponsors do not understand the true importance of systematic tracking and proper planning when it comes to projects. Sponsors need to appreciate that there are many moving components to a successful project.

7. Do You Understand What a Project Plan Is?

Sponsors need to understand what a project plan is in order to approve the project plan. If necessary, project managers should supply a plan review checklist to show what steps need to be taken throughout the project’s duration.

8. How Will You Accept the Work?

Project sponsors often supply a list of expectations, and they should be willing to ask any relevant questions to ensure their expectations are met on time. If sponsors do not review the project’s information, updates, and reports, then a trust breakdown can occur and hinder the project.

9. Will You Keep the Project on Task?

Keeping the project in alignment with both cultural and business goals is crucial for completing the project within the deadline. This means the project sponsor should arrange available resources to initiate and sustain potential changes.

10. Will You Facilitate the Proper Problem Solving Skills?

Problem solving occurs at all levels of management. Sponsors should be able to make necessary decisions on any risks, changes, and conflicts that develop outside the project manager’s authority.
For those who wish to take courses in APM or APMP should consider taking courses from Parallel Project Training. Focuses on maximising the value of APM training, Parallel Project Training provides various accredited courses that are based on the Parallel Learning System, including study guides, podcasts, e-learning, and workshops.

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