Friday, March 4, 2011

Project Sponsorship, by Randall Englund and Alfonso Bucero affiliated link

This book deals with project sponsorship by introducing the "sponsorship staircase" which is an analogy to the necessary steps that one has to take in order to have an ideal sponsorship. It is particularly interesting for project managers focused on the relations between projects and businesses, and I recommend it if that’s your case. But it is not the first book you should buy if you're interested in Project Management.

It’s a good value
Randall Englund and Alfonso Bucero were responsible for a seminar on project sponsorship on last year’s PMI EMEA Congress in Milan. I had the privilege to be on that seminar and I can tell you it was time well spent. The reason I mention this is because the seminar was built around this book and so there’s a lot of practical and useful tools like templates you can take from it. But I’ll get to that in more detail in a bit.

First I’d like to tell you in more detail what the book is about. The book is structure using the “sponsorship staircase” which is:
  • Sponsor responsibilities
  • Obtaining a sponsor
  • Sustaining sponsorship
  • Client sponsor relationship
  • Steering committees
  • Culture evaluation
  • Execution feedback
  • Sponsorship development
  • Sponsorship mentoring
  • Knowledge management
Starting with sponsor responsibilities
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I don’t want to get in too much detail, but they start the book with sponsor responsibilities. These responsibilities vary with the type of sponsor you have (a paying sponsor, the sponsor that needs your project’s results to build upon them, the internal sponsor, the client sponsor, and so on). Add to that the fact that most sponsors don’t know what their responsibilities are as sponsors and you have a problem to solve and a topic for a book and a seminar. And a great topic.

What you’ll get from Project Sponsorship
Some of the good values you'll get from this book are:
  • The disciplines of credibility, they show you how to promote your credibility
  • Functions of steering committees, they are very handy to show what a steering committee should be concerned about (and also what they shouldn’t concerned about)
  • Corporate cultures, a simple 4 category classification of corporate culture so you are aware of the environment where your project is running
  • Roles in Change Management, so you can easily check your part and everyone else’s on the change process that your project is part of
And some real practical tools are also included:
  • Environment Access Survey Instrument, is a survey that can give you a useful insight about organizational readiness for your project
  • Risk Assessment Survey, is a scored survey that can also give you a useful insight about the organization awareness on the risk associated with the change your project is to introduce
  • Political plan, (yes, you read it right!) to give you a tool to position and direct you on your political status on the organization
The book is also filled with alerts and advices. The way they are introduced makes them plain to see to you and easy to explain. One example that comes to mind is when they discuss dashboards to oversee projects. Dashboards make sense when the organization has reached a certain level and they say it like this: sponsors don't need a dashboard before they can drive. Simple and straight, right?

So all considered, I'd recommend this book to anyone dealing to businesses and projects - ranging from project managers and sponsors. It's not the first book you should read to learn about Project Management but it's a book you have to read in the case you're dealing to businesses and projects.

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