The Importance of Project Sponsorship

Project SponsorIn late 2014 PMI surveyed almost 1000 project management professionals and over 200 project sponsors as part of their Pulse of the Profession® research.  Not surprisingly, PMI’s study revealed stark differences in high- and low-performing organizations’ abilities to leverage the talents and time of sponsors.


Poorly engaged executive sponsors were the primary cause of projects not meeting goals significantly more often for low-performing organizations (43 percent versus 23 percent). High performers wasted 10 times less money on projects than low performers due to poorly engaged sponsors.


Overextended sponsors occurred twice as frequently in low-performing organizations than they did in high-performing ones: 30 percent versus 59 percent. Almost twice as many high performers offered training in how to be an executive sponsor than low performers (36 percent versus 20 percent).


The research revealed a wide gap between what the project managers think about sponsors, and how sponsors consider themselves:

  • Motivating: 34 percent of PMs said sponsors frequently motivated the team; 82 percent of sponsors thought they did so frequently
  • Active Listening: 42 percent of PMs said sponsors frequently listened actively; 88 percent of sponsors thought they did so frequently
  • Effective Communication: 47 percent of PMs said sponsors frequently communicated effectively; 92 percent of sponsors said they did so frequently
  • Managing Change: 37 percent of PMs said sponsors manage change; 82 percent of sponsors thought they did so frequently


While the knowledge that sponsors are important for projects is nothing new (hopefully), and the lack of training for project sponsors is probably well known to project managers everywhere, the data about sponsors believing they are performing well, when they are obviously not in so many cases, is probably a welcome confirmation of what many project managers have felt instinctively for a long time.


Read the full report from PMI here.


About Kevin Archbold

Kevin Archbold, PMP, PMI-SP, has over 30 years of project management experience with large and small organizations in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear, telecommunications, trucking, IT, recruiting, mining, construction, and government. Kevin has presented at local and national levels within the Project Management Institute (PMI), is the winner of a local chapter PMI Project of the Year Award, and is the current president of a PMI Chapter.

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