If the project sponsor (PS) and project manager (PM) are aligned, the project will go very well. To sustain these connections requires some very specific discussions, though.  Having the guts to ask the tough questions requires trust and authenticity.  It also requires a clear understanding of responsibilities. 

Here’s a look at key tasks of the PS and the PM: 

Lou Russell Figure--PM/PS Roles

What’s more, to show competence, the project manager must help the project sponsor answer these questions accurately with a shared, consistent message:

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  • How often do the PS and PM meet?
  • How often does the PS meet directly with executive stakeholders?
  • When will the project be completed and transitioned to operations? 
  • What will we have as a business when the project is completed that we don’t have now?  What will be the ROI (return on investment)?
  • What percentage of hours of the whole project is being used to manage the project? (Typically, strong projects are 10 to 25 percent.)
  • Are all key stakeholders actively involved in the project?

The PS must also ask the PM these questions, as his or her leader:

  • Where is your project charter?
  • What is the prioritization of various project constraints (time, budget, scope, quality)? 
  • Where are we on this project right now (percentage done: time, budget, scope/quality as appropriate to the specific project)?
  • What do you need that I can get you?  What keeps you up at night?
  • How can I help you improve stakeholder collaboration together and with us? 

For a deeper dive into project management for L&D, join me September 29 in New Orleans at ATD’s Core 4 Conference for the session: Methodology Madness: Complete Your Projects and Save Your Sanity.