Project Sponsorship

Authors: David West
Publisher: Gower

Project Sponsorship is one of the least well understood and enacted roles in the whole change management structures of organisations whether Public or Private sector. David’s book is well-structured and absolutely packed with detailed material on everything a Programme Manager, Project Manager or Programme Director would need to know how to do or supervise happening. If you are a first time Project Sponsor with little experience in any of the previously stated roles, then this book will fill many of the gaps in education and experience.

The style is quite dense and engineering-based culturally, but that’s OK – as it punches above its weight against some of the methodology books which are not good at teaching post-holders how to carry out their role. This certainly fills that gap and is of use to any post holder, including and beyond project manager, who takes getting it right seriously.

Chapter 2 is useful and could be expanded to include some of the competency frameworks that are around with 360 degree assessments which are relevant to this role and would check suitability and aid development in the role and beyond.

Chapter 3 on Governance gives a good background as to why we need more of it, I would like to have seen more ‘so what does good look like’. There are many historical lessons drawn but a future section and perhaps a mindmap of all the legislation and compliance aspects would be helpful. I think that combined with the planning section; there should be demonstration of the comprehensive scope offered by Enterprise Resource Planning tools. I despise the retrospective bean-counting view of project accounting and admire all the forecasting and modelling tools out there that shows a Project Sponsor where the project is heading and that allows him or her to model different courses of action and outcomes.

Chapter 5 on Corporate Strategy gives a lot of the tools that a Business Analyst, working with the Board, would use to analyse strategic intent, justification, modelling the business and identifying the drivers for change.

Chapter 6 on Business Case is probably one of the most comprehensive I have read on the subject. It gives lots of examples.

The stakeholder management chapter is pretty standard and good content but a bit light on political intelligence, influence planning, strategies and skills. A project sponsor has to manage the 90% of the iceberg under the water as well as what can be seen as a hazard on the surface.

I commend all the hard work gone into developing this title; it deserves to run to a second edition. I have, despite some suggestions, no hesitation in recommending this excellent book. I believe that David should consider entering it in next year’s Practical Manager category of the Chartered Management Institute’s Management Book of the Year competition. The winner was announced last week at the British Library and – full disclosure – I was there having been one of the Judges.

March 2011 — Reviewed by Jill Dann


About Jill Dann: Jill Dann deploys diverse skills and tools in executive coaching, change management and facilitation where she applies her extensive experience in Emotional Intelligence, having published 4 books on the subject. Her work has been translated into Simplified Chinese, Spanish, French, Thai and Greek. Jill has been an examiner in portfolio, programme and project management plus support roles since 1992. She is currently developing a new enterprise of web 2.0 and social media products and services with several enterprising collaborators. Previously Jill has developed innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship programmes for Consultation Limited clients here and abroad. She has led large teams of consultants (40-65) in a number of new business launch scenarios, covering multiple workstreams. Jill has written for Ashridge Business School for over ten years on a broad variety of business and management topics and assessment of them.

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