Sponsor & Team


If you are working on a project that impacts more than just yourself, you need a project sponsor and a project team. In this lesson, we'll review the role of the sponsor,  project leader and team members.


Project Sponsor: a person with the authority to approve and implement change.

The Sponsor:

- Eliminates roadblocks
- Assigns resources (people or money)
- Approves changes
- Accountable for changes and project success
- Signs off at Tollgates
- Approves project expenses and savings (if applicable)

Tollgate: a tollgate is a control point used to review project progress before the team moves on to the next step.

Most commonly, the project sponsor is your immediate supervisor. If you are making improvements to your own work or within your own team, your supervisor should be the sponsor. 

If you are impacting multiple departments, multiple processes or multiple locations, you may need a sponsor outside of your leadership chain of command.

For example: If you work in the engineering department and your project involves engineering, customer service and supply chain, your sponsor needs to have authority over all three departments.

Engaging your Sponsor

When approaching your project sponsor to ask for support, share your Why statement (Three Whys) and Project Charter. Make it easy for the sponsor to support you!

Be receptive to changes your sponsor suggests. She or he may be aware of conflicting efforts or other priorities, or may have a different perspective on the challenge. Work together to effectively define the problem, scope and objective. 

Project Leader

The Project Leader guides the project team step-by-step through the process to solve the problem or leverage the opportunity.

Project Leader:

- Lead the project team to address the problem or opportunity using a structured-problem solving approach
- Responsible for ensuring the project stays on track, on time and on budget
- Manages the project team
- Communicates with the project sponsor
- Maintains all project documentation (project charter, stakeholder engagement, sustainment plan, etc)

The entire team is responsible for the project's success - not just the Project Leader. The Project Leader and Sponsor must work together to clearly communicate the expectations of the project team and sure they stay on track.

Team Members

Your team members make the project happen. For small projects and quick wins, your project team may have just one or two people. For large projects and long-term efforts, your project team could become very large.

We have two types of team members: Core and Extended/Ad Hoc

Core Team Members:

- Attend all meetings
- Remain closely involved in the process
- Own action items and deliverables - often requires reaching out to additional stakeholders or co-workers to gain input or feedback
- Are directly impacted by the problem/opportunity

Limit your core project team membership to 8 people. This group will own the action items and deliverables, but will often reach out to extended team members or others for help or input. A large core team group creates challenges - scheduling, engagement and accountability. This team needs to be comfortable with gathering feedback from others and sharing it within the core team and with the sponsor.

Extended/Ad Hoc Members:

- Attend meetings only as needed
- Provide subject matter expertise
- Provide input into action items and deliverables

Add as many extended or ad hoc members as needed, but clearly define their expectations and where their input is needed. 

When meeting with your Sponsor, review your list of proposed team members and ensure he or she supports the selection.

Team Diversity

The Core and Extended Team should have a diverse representation of those impacted by your change. Diversity comes in many forms. Think not just about age and gender, but of diversity of thought, perspective and experience. 

This could be:
- Experience with other departments or processes
- Experience at other companies or industries
- Experience with other major projects

You want team members who can think critically and can objectively see all aspects of the problem at hand.

Also think about your own skills and abilities. What experience or skills do you lack? Who could bring complementary skills to help you balance your team?

When meeting with your Sponsor, review your list of proposed team members and ensure he or she supports the selection.

Project Kickoff

When you are ready to officially begin your project, host a project team kickoff. 

During the kickoff, you should:

  • Have your Sponsor provide opening comments
  • Review your Three Whys
  • Review your Project Charter
  • Introduce all of the team members
  • Clearly set expectations for roles and responsibilities

A kickoff helps build engagement and ownership from the very beginning of a project.

Develop your list of proposed Core and Extended Team Members and add it to your Project Charter. Schedule a Project Kickoff.

Lessons in this Course:

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