One project about which I am aware started strong, went for several years spending millions of dollars, and ultimately ended up being canceled with no productive gain. This was a significant, cross-functional project that would impact every operating division of the organization. At the start, senior leaders established a sponsorship committee at lower levels of the organization. Unfortunately, the sponsorship committee was not accountable to a single sponsor, nor was there a mechanism in place for that sponsorship committee to be accountable to any senior leadership team. Soon, there was conflict between different members of the sponsorship committee regarding the scope and priority of the project. This led to the ultimate demise of the project.

What happens when you don’t have the sponsor at the right level?

• Conflicting priorities. Different leaders want distinctive things to support the needs of their teams.
• Lack of cooperation. If there is no single aligned leader or leadership team driving the project, there is little cooperation, and individual departmental needs will always trump what’s best for the project.
• Scope management. The individual leaders start tinkering with the scope to achieve their personal goals, often at the cost of the entire effort.

All of this leads to projects that spin their wheels, and ultimately don’t return the value that was expected.

How do you avoid this problem?

1. Have a single senior sponsor who has decision-making authority across the entire project team and scope of the project.
2. When this is not possible, the sponsor committee must be held accountable by senior leadership team that makes the project a high-priority in the organization.
3. The sponsor or sponsor committee must be able to make decisions rapidly about project scope, risk mitigation, or other issues affecting the quality of the results of the project.

When you put the appropriate sponsor in place, at the right level, with the right authority, you will have gone a long way to achieving the results you expect.

Dedicated to your profitable transition,

Steve

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