Governance and Support in the Sponsoring of Projects and Programs

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1 13-16 July 2008 Marriott Warsaw, Poland Governance and Support in the Sponsoring of Projects and Programs Dr Lynn Crawford ESC Lille, France; Bond University, Australia; Human Systems International Ltd, Dr Terry Cooke-Davies Human Systems International Ltd, Dr Brian Hobbs University of Quebec at Montreal, Dr Les Labuschagne University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr Kaye Remington University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, Dr Ping Chen Tsinghua University, China, 1

2 PMI funded research project Aims To address both formal and informal aspects of the sponsorship role and To provide guidance to organizations and professional organizations in: Defining the role and responsibilities of the sponsor within corporate and project governance frameworks Identifying the characteristics of effective performance of the sponsor role Research Methodology Review of literature Project Management General Management Phase 1: 5 pilot studies Phase 2: Cross Regional Qualitative Study 108 interviews 36 projects / programs 9 organisations 5 geographic regions Australia, China, Europe, North America, South Africa 2

3 Profile of Project / Programs 21 Projects 15 Programs Organizational Assessment of Success of Projects / Programs Frequency Percent Successful Moderately successful 4 11 Turnaround 7 19 Challenged 9 25 Total % assessed as being of high complexity 3

4 Interview Profile Interviews Total Sponsors 28 Program Managers 6 Project Managers 37 Team Members 28 Other 9 Total 108 Literature Review: Key Themes General agreement on Formal accountabilities - the governance aspects of the role; Support functions of the role; and Behaviors, personal characteristics and motivation of the individuals performing the role 4

5 Sponsor and Sponsorship Roles Sponsorship role well recognized and accepted as: the person or group performing the functions of providing the Project or Program Manager s authority, making investment decisions and providing direction But the term sponsor is not universally used May be the owner, financier, client, etc., or their delegate (Wideman, 1991) Vice-President or Director (Chinese case studies) Multiple and Complex Structures The governance framework of the permanent organisation One or several committees or boards «Steering», approval, tracking, impact. Manager with important responsibilities Little availability Delegation frequent and necessary A hierarchy of sponsorship Multiple sponsors 5

6 Sponsorship Roles Executive Team Steering Committee Governance Board Executive Sponsor Member of the Executive Team Project / Program Sponsor May report to Executive Sponsor May be a Functional or Divisional Manager From Sponsor to Sponsorship Sponsor Individual(s) Central role in sponsorship But incomplete respresentation Sponsorship Organisational role or function Includes committees and boards Aligned with permanent organisation s governance framework 6

7 The role in standards [1] The person or group that provides the financial resources, in cash or in kind, for the project. PMI, 2004 PMBOK Guide The individual or body for whom the project is undertaken and who is the primary risk taker. The sponsor owns the business case and is ultimately responsible for the project and for delivering the benefits. APM, 2006 APM Body of Knowledge The role in standards [2] Sponsoring Group representing senior managers who are responsible for: The investment decision Defining the direction of the business Ensuring the ongoing overall alignment to the strategic direction of the organization and Senior Responsible Owner (SRO): The single individual with overall responsibility for ensuring that a project or programme meets its objectives and delivers the project benefits. OGC,

8 Sponsor Research Findings [1] Sponsorship provides bridge between permanent organization and temporary organization (project or program) Sponsorship requires experience, knowledge, perspective, credibility and authority senior position Senior people are very busy hierarchy of sponsorship, often complex with multiple sponsors, boards and committee The Bridge Between Permanent Organisation Sponsor Temporary Organisation Project/programme 8

9 Member of the permanent organisation Manager with important responsibilities Influence, experience, business knowledge, network of contacts Representative of: Interests of the permanent organisation Governance Interests of the temporary organisation Support A Complex Network of Relations Upward Parrain Horizontally internal Downward Horizontally external Project/ programme 9

10 Sponsor Research Findings [2] There are two dimensions to sponsorship: governance and support In certain situations, one dimension may be dominant Effective sponsorship depends on personal characteristics and behavior Effective sponsorship requires: Excellent communication skills, including listening ability, Ability to handle ambiguity, Ability to manage self, including time and stress management. Governance Role can be structured around six dimensions: Govern the project Take accountability for business case and benefits Give direction and make decisions Critically review progress Manage internal and external interfaces Have sufficient seniority to represent the project to the organization 10

11 Support Role can be structured around four dimensions: Have credibility and use networking ability Provide leadership Maintain effective relationships Be available and provide timely support In Practice 11

12 Govern the project Governance Applying corporate governance, and ensuring processes are followed Conducting reviews We look to the sponsor to provide the direction, based on their business acumen. [Project Manager] I have been sponsoring a number of reviews on the program to assure its value of delivery. [Sponsor] Governance [cont.] Take accountability for business case and realization of benefits Sponsorship with us is not just do the money and you walk away, it really means owning it from idea to implementation and then right through to the point of realising the business benefits. [Project Manager] To be effective the role must be linked to the outcomes of that project, very tightly linked [Sponsor] All Chinese sponsors interviewed were executive sponsors. They are leaders in their organizations and stated that accordingly they take leadership accountability for their projects. 12

13 Governance [cont.] Give direction and make decisions a very effective sponsor [is] also leading from the front, quickly making decisions, set into action, very clear about what he wants, specifies very clearly upfront what he wants. [Project Manager] I think you need to be strong because sometimes, you need to make hard decisions in projects. You might have to stop a project for some reason and people need to understand why that decision s being made. [Sponsor] Governance [cont.] Critically review progress The most effective sponsors were those who proactively evaluated the progress of the project and took action I found her very insightful. She asked the hard questions, and then provided help in overcoming them. [Project Manager] So we don t want a sponsor who just goes, Yes, okay, yes, no problem, good, yeah, who takes everything on face value. We want someone who s going to challenge assumptions, challenge conclusions, challenge recommendations and then once they re convinced we re going in the right direction then to lead that charge back into the business. [Project Manager] 13

14 Governance [cont.] Manage internal and external interfaces Internal: The role of the sponsor as link between permanent and temporary organizations External: Management of stakeholders Ideally, a sponsor should have the ability to manage stakeholders, and also important is their handling of escalation. The last guy, X, did this very well. He had seniority and knowledge. Without needing to talk to dozens of people he could give me an answer and quickly hone down an approach. He had the answers at his fingertips. [Project Manager] Governance [cont.] Have sufficient seniority to represent the project / program I think an executive sponsor certainly needs to be at senior level, and most of our executive sponsors are at the general manager level. The project sponsors have got to be I guess at a level of maturity that allows them to confidently represent the project and be able to influence other stakeholders to achieve the outcomes. [Project Manager] 14

15 Support Have credibility and use networking ability You need to be able to defend the project at the higher levels within the company, especially when there are limited resources and there are other projects competing for those resources. [Sponsor] To resolve [a particular problem] we escalated it to the executive sponsor and to the sponsor of the other program. Got the right people in the room, had the discussion, got it resolved and now we re just getting on with our job. [Project Manager] Support [cont.] Provide leadership I think the other role is to let them know that I care and I want to hear them and I think leadership is about that, leadership is also about listening to people and being able to know that they can ask you a question and that you can take a look at that, when people stop asking you questions I think that you're a failure. [Sponsor] You re in crunch mode and things aren t going so well and team morale is down, you need somebody there who can enable or empower you to do something about it. [Project Manager] 15

16 Support [cont.] Maintain effective relationships One sponsor of a successful project reported that he particularly enjoyed the interactions at the personal level, working with project manager, working with the customer, and with the business unit; the range of relationships. Support [cont.] Be available and provide timely support He was fabulous to be honest, very supportive always gave me the time to listen if I asked to talk to him. (Project Manager) With the last one (sponsor) I chatted to him when I saw him walking by in the corridor and he was always interested in hearing how the project was going from my perspective. This one I simply don t see to do that. He s not interested. [Project Manager] 16

17 Need for Governance Representing the needs of the organisation / client Low High Competent project manager and team Strategic importance High visibility Competent project manager and team Strong organizational support Repeat project Low visibility Challenging project Strategic importance High visibility Challenging project And/or Weak PM and/or team Repeat project Low visibility Model of Sponsor Role Low High Need for Support Representing the needs of the project Need for emphasis on governance High risk exposure for organization if project fails Persistent under-performance of project Rapidly-changing market conditions Corporate governance (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley) has drawn attention to the project Suspected illegal or non-compliant behaviour in the project Project is mission-critical Need to realign project to new strategy or organizational context 17

18 Need for emphasis on support The organization is failing to provide sufficient resources for the project Some parts of parent organization are resisting the project s implementation Different stakeholders in the parent organization are seeking to impose conflicting requirements on project The parent organization is failing to provide the project with decisions necessary to maintain planned progress Project manager is inexperienced or weak Early signs of difficulty within the project, such as possible shortfall in benefits Using the model Feedback from practitioners: A basis for assessment of the sponsorship needs of programs and projects as guidance for Appointment of appropriate sponsors Assessing sponsor workload Sponsors in carrying out their role A developmental path for sponsors 18

19 Need for Governance Representing the needs of the organisation / client Low High Competent project manager and team Strategic Judge importance High visibility Competent project manager and team Strong organizational Guardian support Repeat project Low visibility Professor Dumbledore Challenging project Strategic importance High visibility Challenging project And/or Weak PM and/or team Mentor Repeat project Low visibility Model of Sponsor Role Low High Need for Support Representing the needs of the project and behaviors are crucial Excellent communication skills Communication skills are very important. They need to be able to sell the project if necessary, to push its aims and goals. They need to have passion and commitment to the project. They need to be able to articulate their vision in order to get people involved in it. [Project Manager]..trying to think of the impact of the customer in the marketplace and trying to see through the rhetoric and the emotion to see what they actually want, and whether we can meet those wants. It s just communication. [Sponsor] you have to just spend the time talking to people, asking questions so that you can get a real understanding of what they re saying. [Sponsor] 19

20 Behaviors Ability to handle ambiguity I think I m good at admitting when things have changed, but some people tend to think that it s a criticism of their past decisions. Perhaps they think that changing their minds is like admitting they were wrong, when it s simply that the environment has changed. [Sponsor] Behaviors [cont.] Ability to manage self Like I was sponsoring three big projects so how much time do I devote to one versus the other? It s a balancing act plus the other things you have to do is business as usual in your day job. [Sponsor] They need to be approachable, and they don t get involved in the detail. They don t need the detail. They re an executive sponsor so they need an executive summary so they can make an executive decision and get it over and done with in minutes. They re pragmatic. [Project Manager] 20

21 In conclusion It s very difficult being a project sponsor, a bit removed from the detail to really understand what people were telling you. You know, that s probably going to be an issue for any project sponsor to be honest, but you have to just spend the time talking to people, asking questions so that you can get a real understanding of what they re saying and that s a big challenge for project sponsors when you ve got so many other things to do.. [Sponsor] Governance and Support in the Sponsoring of Projects and Programs Dr Lynn Crawford ESC Lille, France; Bond University, Australia; Human Systems International Ltd, Dr Terry Cooke-Davies Human Systems International Ltd, Dr Brian Hobbs University of Quebec at Montreal, Dr Les Labuschagne University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr Kaye Remington University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, Dr Ping Chen Tsinghua University, China, 21

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