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Who is a Project Sponsor? Skills, Responsibilities & Tools

19th Feb, 2024
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    Who is a Project Sponsor? Skills, Responsibilities & Tools

    Project sponsor is an individual or a group of people responsible for the complete success of the project, including appointing the project manager and team, defining the success criteria, and making sure that the delivery of the project is successful. Project sponsors provide high project sustainability and successful implementation of the project’s objectives.

    Project sponsorship is a process that entails providing the necessary financial, material, or other resources to support a specific project. The project sponsor's pivotal role in fostering collaboration and communication cannot be overstated.

    By bringing together disparate stakeholders and building long-lasting relationships, the project sponsor helps to align everyone's efforts toward achieving the project's ultimate objective. If you seek to advance your career in project management, enrolling in an online Project Management certification can equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills.  

    Who is a Project Sponsor?

    A project sponsor is a senior executive who plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of a project. Their responsibilities include providing guidance, securing funding and resources, and ensuring the project's alignment with the organization's goals.The project sponsor also acts as a liaison between the upper management and the team members.

    The terms project sponsor and project sponsorship can sometimes be puzzling to people who are new to project management. While the former refers to a specific role within an organization or a company, the latter is a process of providing support and resources to ensure the success of a project.

    Effective project sponsorship is critical for project success. The project sponsor must have the authority and influence to make decisions and actively participate throughout the project life cycle. The sponsor sets the tone for the project and fosters a culture of collaboration and accountability. Similarly, project sponsorship plays a vital role in project management by providing support and guidance to meet the project's success.  

    Project Sponsorship Styles Matrix

    Project managers can improve their project outcomes by understanding the project sponsorship style and the sponsor's role in project management. This knowledge will help them foster an effective relationship with the sponsor, ultimately leading to greater success.

    One tool project managers can use is a project sponsorship style matrix, which categorizes sponsors based on their level of involvement and decision-making authority. The matrix typically has four quarters, ranging from hands-off to fully engaged sponsorship styles.  

    • Hands-off Quarter: The sponsor provides minimum involvement and delegates most decision-making authority to project managers.  
    • Bureaucratic: The sponsor is highly involved and tends to micro-manage the teams, causing slow progress due to excessive bureaucracy.  
    • Spectator: The sponsor observes the project closely, and guides project managers but leaves most decisions to them.  
    • Fully Engaged: The sponsor stays closely involved with project managers throughout the project, providing support, guidance, and assistance from start to finish.  

    Responsibilities of a Project Sponsor

    Now that we have discussed the definition of a project sponsor let us explore the various responsibilities that fall under the purview of a project sponsor.

    1. Guidance

    For a project sponsor, providing clear direction and guidance for the project team is a vital responsibility. A project sponsor must collaborate closely with project managers to develop a distinct vision for the project and guarantee that it is in line with the organization's strategic goals. By maintaining a big-picture perspective and providing leadership, the sponsor can help the team stay focused and motivated throughout the project lifecycle.

    2. Securing Necessary Resources

    A project sponsor must be able to get the required budget, manpower, and other resources in order for the project to be successful. A sponsor should guarantee that the project is properly resourced from the start by leveraging their position of authority within the company. This entails thorough planning and budgeting, as well as regular project monitoring and adjustment.

    3. Ensuring Stakeholder Engagement

    The project sponsor is responsible for ensuring that stakeholders are involved and informed throughout the project lifecycle since it is essential to the project's success. Effective collaboration and communication with stakeholders are required for this in order to comprehend their wants and concerns. Regular updates and progress reports are also necessary to keep stakeholders updated on the project's progress.

    4. Risk Management

    Every project involves risks, and it is the responsibility of the project sponsor to identify and mitigate those risks as much as possible. Risk management involves working closely with project managers to identify potential risks and develop effective risk management strategies. By maintaining a proactive approach to risk management, a project sponsor can help to minimize the impact of unexpected events and ensure that the project stays on track.

    5. Decision-making

    A project sponsor must be able to make important decisions that affect the project's success as the primary decision-maker. This includes authorising adjustments to the project's scope, offering more resources, and resolving any problems that could develop throughout the course of the project.

    6. Ensuring Project Success

    Ultimately, the project sponsor is responsible for ensuring that the project is successful and delivers the intended benefits to the organization. By maintaining a focus on the project's objectives and outcomes, a project sponsor can help to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.  

    Skills Required to be a Project Sponsor

    Now that we have discussed what a sponsor is in project management, it is important to understand the necessary skill sets to become a project sponsor. If you are eyeing to become a project sponsor, you need to have a combination of the following skills:


    To define project sponsor, the first quality that comes to mind is leadership. Project sponsors must stay calm and guide the team members in any critical situation. A sponsor should have considerable leadership qualities to guide the team to do better in the project.

    2. Communication

    The next skill a project sponsor should possess is effective communication. They should be flexible and approachable. Moreover, they should communicate thoroughly regarding the project with all the managers, team members, and stakeholders associated with the project.

    3. Vision

    The project sponsor's expertise in vision is reflected in their ability to foresee and communicate a compelling picture of the desired future state of the project, including its goals, benefits, and outcomes. This skill is vital for setting direction, aligning stakeholders, and inspiring the team.

    4. Credibility

    Credibility plays a key role in securing support and buy-in for the project. A project sponsor's credibility skill is their talent to build trust and establish their reputation as a reliable leader. It involves transparency about their intentions, commitments, and communication.

    5. Business Awareness

    A project sponsor should know and understand the broader context in which the project operates. This can be market trends, customer needs, and competitive forces. A sponsor should be aware of all of these factors. It will help them make decisions quickly for a project and anticipate the challenges. Moreover, it also creates high value for the organization.

    What a Project Sponsor Does in Each Phase?

    The word project sponsor is not restricted to providing funds but checking overall project direction, establishing governance, and approving major decisions regarding the project phase. Get the cheapest PMP certification to understand and learn about project management in a better way. Below are the different duties that a project sponsor has to perform:

    1. Initiation Duties

    During project initiation, a project sponsor's duties include defining the project's purpose, goals, and scope. They also have to identify the stakeholders, along with appointing the project managers. The sponsor also establishes the project governance framework and approves the project charter.

    2. Planning Duties

    In the planning phase, a project sponsor's duties will contain reviewing and approving the project plans. He must ensure that these plans are linked well with the company's strategy. Therefore, the sponsor should be able to analyze the risk beforehand and set performance targets. During this phase, a project sponsor will also monitor progress and approve if any alteration is required in the project plan.

    3. Implementation Duties

    As a project sponsor, the primary implementation duties will include checking if the project is successfully executed and completed within the defined scope and budget plan by meeting all the deadlines. Furthermore, this includes providing necessary supplies, monitoring the progress and addressing the risks, communicating with stakeholders, and approving the project deliverables.

    4. Closing Duties

    In this stage, the duties of a project sponsor will contain the conducting methods of final reviews of the project. He has to check if the project objectives have been met, obtain formal acceptance of the project from the stakeholders, finalize and make project documentation, celebrate the project's success, and give feedback to the team for future improvements. 

    How to Get a Project Sponsor?

    To get a project sponsor, you need to identify someone with the authority, influence, and resources to support the entire project. It is needless to say, getting a project sponsor is not an easy task. However, you can get a good project sponsor with the right approach and preparation. Below are a few tips you can apply to get a project sponsor: 

    • Define your project goals and objectives. It will help you to identify potential sponsors who are interested in your project's outcome.  
    • Research potential sponsors who have a vested interest in your project's success. This could include senior executives, stakeholders, or other department heads. They can help you with support and resources.  
    • Create a compelling project proposal showing a considerable Return on investment (ROI) for the sponsor. This should also include a clear plan of action, timeline, and estimated budget.  
    • Reach out to the potential sponsors you think will be interested. Fix a meeting and always be prepared with the questions and answers. Before investing in your project, a sponsor will surely ask you numerous questions. Therefore you should be prepared to address all of them.  
    • Follow up with the prospective sponsors and give them additional information or clarification they may need to make a decision.  

    Project Sponsor Example

    To understand project sponsorship and project sponsor, let us take an example:  

    Seco Tools, a Swedish company, is a leading manufacturer of metal working tools and solutions. They run their business on an ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) system to manage their operations and productions. It helps them to get real-time data. Therefore, Seco Tools will not require a project sponsor for day-to-day operations.

    However, they would still need a project sponsor for the larger scale of operations that require significant resources. For instance, expansion of their production capacity or launching new products and even developing new technologies - all of these will require an experienced project sponsorship.

    In such cases, a project sponsor would help them with funding, guidance, and support to make sure operational success is achieved.  

    Best Tools for Interacting with Project Sponsors

    As we know about what is a sponsor in project management, effective communication with project sponsors is necessary to ensure project success. The following are some best tools for interacting with the project sponsors: 

    1. Project Charter: It is a document that outlines the scope, objectives, stakeholders, and timeline of a project. The main purpose of this Project charter is to align the project sponsor's expectations with the project manager's plan. 
    2. Status Reports: Regular status reports keeping project sponsors informed regarding the progress of the project. These reports should summarize completed tasks, current activities, and upcoming milestones. 
    3. Meetings: Meetings with the project sponsors are important for face-to-face interaction. It provides an opportunity to discuss project risks and solutions. Zoom and Google meetings are the best examples of this. 
    4. Project Management Software: To track project tasks, timelines, and deadlines, project management software like Trello, Asana, and Jira is useful. Project sponsors can be given access to these tools to view the progress. They can also provide their feedback over here. Enrol for PRINCE2 training providers and gain industry-agnostic project management skills and prepare for the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner exams. 

    Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Project Sponsor

    Dealing with a difficult project sponsor can be a challenging experience. Here are some exclusive tips you can use to improve your relationship with a difficult project sponsor and increase the chances of a successful project outcome: 

    1. Clarify Expectations: Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the project sponsor's expectations. Also, the sponsors should understand the limitations of the project's wells. These restrictions or limits should be discussed with the project sponsor.  
    2. Communicate Regularly: Update every change or progress of the project to the difficult project sponsor and talk about the solutions as well. This will help to create a trusting bond with the team members and project sponsor. Project sponsors will understand easily whenever any challenging situation arrives in the project if they are informed early.  
    3. Establish Boundaries: To prevent micromanagement and unrealistic demands, it is always recommended to form boundaries around difficult project sponsors.  
    4. Be Proactive: The project managers should anticipate issues and be proactive in finding solutions before they become huge problems for the project sponsors.  
    5. Trust Building: This is the most important tip for handling difficult sponsors. You can create a trust bond with the help of effective communication and delivering the right results. If trust is built, then the working relationship with the project sponsor and the other members will automatically improve.  
    6. Seek Input: Involve the sponsor in important decisions and try to get their input on key issues. This will create a good impression of you in a difficult project sponsor's mind. They will understand you have ownership and project engaging attitude.  

    Benefits of Having a Good Project Sponsor

    Having a good project sponsor can provide numerous benefits to the success of a project. Usually, it is seen project managers complain about lack of funds. As the project sponsor meaning suggests that they will provide sponsorship and resources whenever any project requires it after discussing with the project managers.  

    Moreover, protecting the sponsor with the help of a clear vision can guide the project direction well, secure necessary resources and provide support throughout the project's duration. Again, this assures that the delivery of the project will happen in a given time without any errors.  

    Another reason for having a good project sponsor is they have excellent risk management abilities. The project sponsors can communicate with the team members and stakeholders well to analyze the risk regarding the project and provide solutions effectively.  


    Project sponsors are the important individuals responsible for the project's successful completion. They have the authority to agree or not with the alterations required for the project fulfillment. For every project, a business strategy is required. It is the vital role of a project sponsor to understand the business strategy and invest in the projects to gain a return on investment.  

    The scope of project sponsors in the coming years is vast, ranging from providing high-level oversight to hands-on involvement in project planning and execution. The sponsors ensure that projects are aligned well with the business objectives and are completed within the budget and timeline. You can become a future-ready project manager and boost your career through KnowledgeHut's best Project Management certificate programs.  

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What does a project sponsor need?

    A project sponsor needs to provide a clear direction for the project, resources, and support to ensure the successful completion of the project. They should have a clear understanding of the project's objectives, timeline, budget, and scope. An efficient sponsor should also communicate regularly with the project team and stakeholders and help to remove any roadblocks that may arise during the project.

    2Why Is It Critical to Keep the Project Sponsor Informed?

    To achieve the project's success, it is always important to inform the Project sponsor about the potential issues and progress from time to time. This will help them to make clear and fast decisions or even take necessary actions to keep the projects on track.

    3How does a project sponsor help ensure the success of a project?

    Every project sponsor plays an essential role in the particular project. The success of that project largely depends on the necessary support and resources which he provides to the team. Moreover, the project sponsor has to make critical decisions to keep the projects working and aligned with the overall goals and strategies of the business.

    4How does a project sponsor differ from a project manager?

    A project sponsor is the one who is responsible for providing thorough guidance and support for a project, while a project manager manages the daily activities of the project, ensuring that it is completed within budget and on time without missing the deadline. Mostly the senior and experienced executives of the companies become the project sponsors as they possess the expertise to deal with a challenging situation.


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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