This is the single person (think executive, even if they’re not) who wants the outcome of the project. He or she wants to get a Return on Investment (ROI) for the organization. He or she really doesn’t care how the project gets done (they have enough other stuff to worry about), they just want the results with no drama. Whenever you want to communicate with a Project Sponsor, always approach like this:
Project Sponsor, I have a challenge that I’d like your advice on. Here’s the challenge …. Here are the two things I could do…. What do you think is best?
Notice how diplomatic this is. You’re not dumping your projects on your Sponsor, you’re giving them choices. Even if the Sponsor comes up with a different option, you now know what you need to do – you win!
This is the single person (think traffic coordinator or router) who makes sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing and when. The Project Manager role has three (and only three) responsibilities: Plan the Project in the beginning, Organize the Project when things need to be changed, and Manage the Project surprises that pop up. The Project Manager role watches over the future, the now and yesterday. Most think of the Project Manager as the project. The Project Manager is the ‘Steward’ of the project – they are a servant leader. It is not their project – the project belongs to the organization represented by the Sponsor. It’s tough not to get your ego tied up in a project, and the PM must work hard to remember whose project it is.
At this point you may have noticed that the Project Manager roles doesn’t build anything. You may notice that you are a Project Manager and you are building a lot of things. You can have multiple roles, and most Project Managers play other roles (see Stakeholders below) as well.
Stakeholders are all the people you need to get your project done. The Project Sponsor is a stakeholder as well. The only one not a stakeholder is the Project Manager. The Stakeholders provide stuff to the project and receive things from the project. They do the building and work. Most of them don’t have to do what you say, and all have a lot of other priorities. It’s always a two-way transaction which you’ll see diagrammed in #4 The Fabulous Scope Diagram.