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4 Ways to Improve Executive Sponsorship

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Jul 17, 2014 8:41:00 PM

No Executive SponsorshipDoes it ever feel like the exec sponsor of your project just isn't listenting? Having strong sponsorship is vital for project success, so how do you get it? This blog will look at four steps you can take to dramatically increase the level of sponsorship right across your portfolio.

1. Project Prioritization Matters

One key reason executives lose interest is that you're working on the wrong projects. This is usually because your project prioritization process is not working properly. This post will help you see if your process is broken.

Fixing a broken project prioritization process is not difficult. "Project prioritization is easy to fix," say Dr James Brown, author of The Handbook of Program Management. "Putting value at the heart of the process means you pick the right projects, but you also need to ensure buy-in to get that all-important sponsorship. I find AHP to be a really good methodology for this."

This webinar, delivered by Dr Brown, will set out why and how you can set up value-based project prioritization that gets executive buy-in.

2. Hold a real kick-off meeting

Do you have all your project participants at the kick-off? Does everyone really understand the business value you're trying to deliver? Do you walk away from your kick-off with a project plan? Have got a governence plan baked in right from the start?

"If you answered no to any of those questions, you're storing problems for the future," says Bryan Barrow of Nova Consulting, a consultant specializing in killer kick-off meetings. "Ticking off all these items really helps the executive understand the goals of the project, the risks and what her role is in supporting the project."

3. Maintain focus on business value

Throughout the project delivery process, it's vital to maintain a focus on business value. It's all-too easy to get lost in the detail of deliverables and the technicalities of the projects, but if you don't deliver business value, the project is pointless.

"Having clear priorities flowing out of the project prioritization process helps the whole team stay focused on the business value which, in turn, helps them execute better," said Jim Morris of Raedan, a consulting firm focused on helping PMOs be more effective. A clearly defined business case helps people feel more confident that they are doing the the right projects which are meaningful to the organization. This confidence utlimately improves the project execution.

"But having everything revolve around business goals also helps sustain executive sponsorship," continues Morris. "It reminds the executive what's in it for them."

4. Communicate like an executive

Executives are busy people. They don't want to hear endless technical details. They don't want excuses. They want a clearly stated status report with its business implications set out. They also want specific recommendations. "Everyone appreciates it when their time is used effectively," continues Morris. "The PMO is often a really good channel to help filter and present information to executives, but every PM needs to do it too. It's you that wants support from the exec, so learn to speak their language." 

None of these steps is difficult, but they do take discipline. If you stick to them, you will quickly see an improvement in executives sponsorship. More importantly, each of these points will also help you deliver better projects more quickly and with less risk.

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