“Influence” of a Good Project Sponsor


Early in my career I was appointed IT Project Manager at a large retail chain responsible for implementing a new storewide computer aided ordering system (CAOS).  The project sponsor was the executive vice-president who chaired a kick-off meeting where individuals were introduced and their expected participation and commitment defined.  At this meeting the EVP stressed the importance of this project to the organization and reaffirmed my role to lead all IT services within the project.

Shortly after the initial kickoff I was asked by the EVP to schedule a follow-up meeting.  I did so and sent email invitations to the approx dozen team members.  I arrived early at the meeting room and waited for the team to arrive.  At approximately ten minutes past the appointed meeting time the room was empty with the exception of me and the EVP who had just arrived.  His obvious question was “where is everyone? To which I replied I did not know.  He went on to ask if I had any responses that individuals could not make the meeting, my response again was no. 

Obviously not pleased he said the he would call the next meeting and I did not have to attend.  Curiously I asked why I would not have to attend.  His response was the next meeting would be at 3:00 am and no son of a bitch had better tell me he has anything better to do.  My response was I wouldn’t miss this for the world. 

He called the meeting as he said he would for 3:00am and everyone on the team was there.  Prior to the meeting I had several phone calls and emails asking if this was some kind of a joke or was he serious.  My consistent response was No he was not kidding and I strongly encourage you to be there. 

He began by asking the team why no one had attended, or even responded to Mr. Kelley to say they would not attend. There were no solid responses.  He made it clear that the next time Mr. Kelley called a meeting attendance was mandatory and if for some reason an individual was not able to attend they were to notify both Mr. Kelley and himself via email with the reason why. 

Suffice to say he both motivated and inspired the team going forward and the support received by my IT group was excellent.  

Epilog: The project was completed on time meeting the go live date, consumed less than 88% of the budgeted amount, and after both a 30 and 90 day management review found to be returning measurable and sustainable benefits that exceeded the original project return on investment expectations.       

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Subject Matter

Project Management ExpertiseExecutive Sponsor

About the Author:


Robert Kelley

Robert Kelley is a senior professional with experience in IT from start-ups and Fortune 200 companies. Mr. Kelley has much experience with SAP and Oracle, especially in FDA compliance and governance.

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