Dear PM Advisor. March 11, 2013

Dear PM Advisor, I just recently read this part of the definition for Project Sponsor and had to laugh out loud: 'Sponsor's primary job is to remove obstacles.' In my experience, the sponsor spends most of his time creating obstacles for my projects. He's constantly changing requirements and adding features. How do I reconcile this with the PMI Definition?

Sponsored-out in Woodbridge, NJ.

Dear Sponsored-out,

Sounds like where you work your sponsor is your internal customer. That is a dangerous combination. PMI defines Sponsor as someone OUTSIDE the project for this very reason. That way they can be objective. The Sponsor's job is to use their influence to ensure that the project succeeds without gaining any personal benefit or loss for its success.

I remember the first time I worked in an organization that ran projects properly. I was running a new product development project that was quite R&D-centric. My sponsor was the V.P. of Regulatory Affairs. I wondered how she was going to help me. When there were occasions when I needed to apply more resources or get items through bottlenecks, she would talk to her peers and remove those obstacles quite effectively.

Be very careful about the separation of customers and sponsors. If he is your customer, as I suspect, treat him as a customer. Since he is officially assigned to your team as sponsor, go ahead talk to him as if he was your sponsor but get your obstacles removed that go counter to his best interests by someone else.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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